Fast-food workers hope management gets the picture during protest

Stephon Johnson | 12/12/2013, 2:51 p.m.
Last Thursday, fast-food workers reminded New York City and the country at large that minimum wage isn’t going to cut ...
Fast food workers fight for living wages to be put on the menu

While the protests have gotten the attention of management and corporations, political figures have showed solidarity as well. New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate-elect Letitia James were present at the rally and gave words of encouragement to those in attendance. New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio wasn’t present but released a statement earlier in the day showing support as well.

“I am proud to stand strong with the working men and women in the Fast Food Forward movement in New York City and across this country,” said de Blasio. “We all know that while the fast-food industry rakes in billions every year, it refuses to pay its workers enough to provide for themselves or their families. I stand fully behind the fast-food workers in our city and across the nation who are on strike today in their effort to organize for a livable wage and fair benefits.”

De Blasio wasn’t the only public figure standing with fast-food workers around the country. Food critic Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “In Defense of Food” and “Cooked,” wrote a letter to members urging them to stand with fast-food workers as well.

“Those of us working in the food movement often speak of our economy’s unhealthy reliance on ‘cheap food,’” Pollan wrote. “But cheap food only seems cheap because the real costs of its production are hidden from us: the exploitation of food and farm workers, the brutalization of animals and the undermining of the health of the soil, the water and the atmosphere.”

Pollan also wrote that in order to produce food sustainably and sell it at an honest price, workers have to be paid a living wage so they can afford to buy it.

“As a society, we’ve trapped ourselves in a kind of reverse Fordism,” Pollan continued. “Instead of paying workers well enough so that they can afford good, honestly-priced products—as Henry Ford endeavored to do so that his workers might afford to buy his cars—we pay them so little that the only food they can afford is junk food destructive of their health and the environment’s.”