Workers strike for higher wages
Conn. workers strike against ‘greed’ of fast food companies, demand higher wage
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 00:08
For the first time yesterday Hartford fast food workers joined the national strike calling for $15 an hour wages and the right to form a union without retaliation.
At 6 a.m. at the Dunkin Donuts on Westin Street in Hartford, 35 workers, elected officials, students and community advocates met to chant “What do we want?” “A living wage.” “When do we want it?” “Now.” Many school buses and trucks driving by the restaurant honked.
Madeline Sanchez, a 22-year-old employee at the Dunkin Donuts walked out of work that morning. She said she had originally planned to take part in the strike, but after seeing her bills on Tuesday, decided not to. When she arrived to work Thursday morning she said, “My beliefs are stronger. … I have two infants at home that I don’t want to struggle.”
In the three years that Sanchez has worked at the Dunkin Donuts, she has received one raise, $0.25.
“It’s greed. They don’t want us to take more. We can’t even take tips.”
Danny Cruz and Devon Johnson who both work at a Subway in Hartford claimed that their store makes almost $2,000 a day, but each of them are making $9 an hour, and not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week.
Currently the minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.25, and the federal minimum is $7.25.
By 7 a.m. the strikers had grown to an approximately 50-person group.
Around that time, the group moved to Burger King on Farmington Ave in Hartford. Later in the day they made their way to a rally at the State House, said Taylor Leake, the local contact for one of the community groups supporting the strike, Working Families.
The workers legally have the right to strike without getting fired, said Leake. To prevent the workers from unjustly being fired when they return to work tomorrow, community members will escort them, he said.
A small group of students from UConn and Central Connecticut State University chanted with the strikers.
“In general I think it’s important for students to get a classroom education, but also its important to know what’s going on in the community,” said UConn 7th-semester senior Milod Kazerounian, who is a computer science and cognitive science double major.
Kazerounian was one of the organizers of the Facebook page, “Connecticut Fast Food Student Bloc.” He said 50 students from the page said they were going to attend throughout the day. He said he is also interested in creating a student group at UConn.
Other UConn students included 3rd-semester sophomore Nicole Simonson, 3rd-semester sophomore Frankie Wunschel, and 7th-semester senior Danielle Donnelly.
“I think it’s important to recognize the correlation between work performed and compensation and cost to meet basic needs and necessities. The current minimum wage doesn’t do that. I think it should be increased. $15 sounds good to me. I’m not even sure if that would provide enough,” said state senator Eric Coleman who chanted with the strikers.
Both President Barack Obama and Gov. Dannel Malloy have said they support a wage increase to $9 an hour. In Connecticut the increase to $9 was approved in May of this year and will take affect over the next two years.
Fast food companies have responded that the industry has much opportunity for advancement, and that many teenage employees are not working to fully support themselves.
When approaching a manager at Burger King, she said that strikers and reporters had to stay on the “other side of the fence.”
Strikes were also supposedly taking place in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York City, Oakland, Raleigh and Tampa yesterday.
More information about the strike can be found at lowpayisnotok.org