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St. Louis Fast-Food Workers Protest for Better Pay, Right to Organize

Categories: Restaurant News

jimmy_johns_protest_2.jpg
Protesters gather outside Jimmy John's in Soulard yesterday. More strikes are scheduled for today.
Rasheen Aldridge had just finished working the lunch rush at the Jimmy John's in Soulard when he says his manager handed him a hand-written sign and asked that he hold it while he snapped a photo. The sign's message? "I made three wrong sandwiches."

"It was humiliating," Aldridge, nineteen, recalls of the incident about a month ago that he says came in retaliation for him putting eight peppers on a sandwich that called for just five and layering meat in the wrong fashion on another sandwich. "I felt that I had to pose for picture. In the fast-food industry, you can get fired at the drop of a hat."

That indignity, coupled with other workplace grievances such as low pay and a lack of benefits, has Aldridge joining dozens of other St. Louis fast-food workers who plan to walk off their jobs this week in protest. Like similar strikes recently in New York and Chicago, the movement here calls on fast-food restaurants to pay their workers a living wage ($15 an hour as opposed to the industry norm that is closer to the minimum wage of $7.35) and to not retaliate against them for organizing a union.

"The fact is that these fast-food chains are multibillion-dollar companies that are making billions in profits, but the worker at the bottom isn't seeing any of that," says Rev. Martin Rafanan with Missouri Jobs with Justice that is spearheading the campaign "STL Can't Survive on $7.35."

See also:
- Missouri Legislature Float Bills to Sink Working Class
- Miners Arrested in Protest of Peabody Energy in St. Louis

The campaign cites statistics showing that 36,000 St. Louisans currently work in the fast-food industry for a median wage of around $8.71. Meanwhile, the self-sufficiency level for an adult with one dependent living in St. Louis calls for an hourly income of $14.84.

"The end result of these low-wage jobs is that the government has to subsidize people in order for them to make ends meet, and the fast-food chains are fine with that," adds Rafanan.

And it's not just traditional fast-food joints that are being asked to step up.

Continue on for other restaurants targeted in the strike and complaints from fast-food employees.



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101 comments
Adam Usher
Adam Usher

He probably just got back from the fast food strike too.

Adam Usher
Adam Usher

Get an education or trade and get a real job!!!!!! Problem fixed.

Kelly Kaufmann
Kelly Kaufmann

Esteban, are you saying I should tip people at fast food restaurants?

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

then why don't you donate some money to their cause? next time you buy fast food, pay double for it.

IKinnard
IKinnard

Why is it the Business Owners should pay for the lack of trade skills for employees? If you want a good job that pays well, go to school and work hard. It's not a big secret. Everyone in America now thinks they're entitled to whatever they want without working for it. I served 4 years in the ARMY, take college courses while working a full time job, and what do I ask for? You to stop complaining about situations you put yourself in.

Timothy McGarity
Timothy McGarity

I'm not sure that a "fast food" worker should be paid $15 an hour but they definitely deserve more than $7.50... and affordable insurance..

jtodaro
jtodaro

Learn a trade, and you'll make a better wage. Fast food (except for Managerial positions) should be for Teens and College Students. I know Charter Communication Installers that don't make $15/hr, so for a Fast Food worker to want this rate is absurd. 


romeo0307
romeo0307

"...the movement here calls on fast-food restaurants to pay their workers a living wage ($15 an hour as opposed to the industry norm that is closer to the minimum wage of $7.35)"

How about 72 virgins and a condo on 5th avenue as a compensation for your superb abilities to make sandwiches?

Joshua Young
Joshua Young

Get your unskilled labor performing a$$es back to work.

Sam Frede
Sam Frede

Ya go get a college education so then your over qualified for fast food and can't even get that job after you realize there aren't any other jobs. I say give them a little raise and let them support themselves so they can get off welfare where we are supporting them.

Tim Doering
Tim Doering

I mean it depends how long you've been doing it, I suppose. Some union food jobs pay well, but it's usually if you've been doing it for years upon years, decades even. I worked in a grocery store and was union; I made more than minimum wage and the benefits were good, but there's no way I could have had a family based upon that income after working there 6 years, even.

Justin Bruce
Justin Bruce

Union meat cutters make fat money. So yeah probably.

Justin Bruce
Justin Bruce

This is rediculous. Fast food is job. If I was the owner I would fire them all, and then hire a new group of people. If you want to work in food, and make good money go to culenary school. If your a dead beat that wants a job where you can buy weed, and work minimal hours then fast food is for you!

Matt Ferch
Matt Ferch

@ Tim - a lot has changed about the world since your grandfather's time. To expect things to be the same would be a bit unrealistic don't you think?

Matt Ferch
Matt Ferch

This is still the land of opportunity. If you want better, work for it, don't expect it to be given to you.

Tim Doering
Tim Doering

To the people here who are saying "Wow, if fast food workers get paid $15 an hour then I must be REALLY underpaid at my current job", I've got news for you: you are. Corporations have figured out they don't have to pay entry-level employees very much, or even employees that have worked 2-5 years at their companies. We may make more now than we used to, but the money doesn't go nearly as far. My grandfather was a butcher who supported his wife and 4 kids off of that one source of income. Could a butcher support a family of 5 with that as the only income now? And actually own a house instead of a shitty apartment? No way. And being a butcher is working with food. And apparently working with food is something only worthy of students and teenagers, according to the comments here. Am I advocating that fast food workers should make $15 an hour? No, but I do think the minimum wage needs to go up.

Tim Doering
Tim Doering

You probably are. I get a little more than that and I know I'm underpaid.

Matt Ferch
Matt Ferch

I'm thinking it would be good if the entire nation took an economics class together. There's something to that crazy "supply and demand". There are many factors that feed into how much people get paid....but one of them isn't fairness.

Tim C. Ernst JR.
Tim C. Ernst JR.

They will still fuck up my order no matter how much we pay them.

Jesse Shiv
Jesse Shiv

Isn't it explained how much you'll be earning in the INTERVIEW!?! If the wage is unacceptable then fucking bail.

DoucheMcGee
DoucheMcGee topcommenter

Better treatment should be given to them though. And as a customer I would definitely prefer to go in and order food from someone who doesn't look pissed off at me for ordering some food.


Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

I can tell most of you are clueless. Any of the decent (premium) menu items at McDonald's will set you back $7 or $8 with fries and a drink. It's $10 at Jimmy John's for the same. Potatoes and a drink don't cost these companies more than a nickel each. Yes you can get cheaper food at McDonald's but even a restaurant worker is smart enough not to eat that reformed, pressed, meat scrap.

Jesse Speaks Jr
Jesse Speaks Jr

All those protesters are too progressive - Social Democratic Marxists is who they are. Their agenda is clear,they're on the streets already and actively souping each other up for a fight. There you are.....Common street fighters

Jeff Weber
Jeff Weber

So for all you that supports this BS you want to pay $8 for a burger and $5 fries.

Jeff Weber
Jeff Weber

They will Hire ILLGEALS that will be happy to get 7.25 an hour

Kenny Snarzyk
Kenny Snarzyk

Fuck you all. I hope you lose your jobs and homes.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

I got a 4% pay cut 4 years ago and never got it back, I got a 3% raise this year when taxes went up 2%, kinda like a slap in the face. Pay them 15$ an hour or fire them all and re staff or just shudder the stores they're protesting, those companies are big enough to do just that and I kinda hope they do.

Jonathan Schumacher
Jonathan Schumacher

they won't remember the sauce... FAST FOOD !!! I worked in the food industry for 12+ years as I was going to school and as a second job. I didn't expect to get $15 an hour because a FN MONKEY could do there jobs! (sorry monkeys). I am always patient with fast food workers EXCEPT when they bitch about money.

Tortfeasor
Tortfeasor

$15 an hour?!?  I can understand better treatment, but it's not a difficult task to take meat and dressings and apply them to bread, much less a task that requires $15 an hour in compensation.

Alicia Papin
Alicia Papin

AWESOME I know a bunch of people looking for work, I'll tell them where to apply!

Matt Olmem
Matt Olmem

here's the issue, if fast food employees are going to be paid $15.00 (which is more than a lot of state/federal jobs pay), why don't we pay those who work in retail $15/hr.? Where does it stop? If fast food is gonna pay $15 an hour I might as well quit my job and go work fast food.

Justin N Rachel Hager
Justin N Rachel Hager

A job at McDonalds should help kids get thru college not supplement college. You can go to school free or at least with no upfront costs nowadays so there's no excuse to be at a job like that for more than 2-4 yrs. And if you are paid to do a job you should do it right or be fired. These people decided to walk out and if you ask me they don't deserve the job they have. If they want better pay then get a better job by going to school or work harder to move up within the company. People really have a shitty work ethic in this country and expect everything to be handed to them.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

Better pay = better quality employees= better service and better quality.....win win win win win. Pay them more money and give them benefits.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

I have worked a lot of minimum wage jobs. It sucks. I hope these people get their point across. It is shameful that a full time worker still has to rely on government benefits to survive. Restaurant work is physical and aggravating at best. Unless your waiting tables and getting tips, you just have to accept minimum wage+ NO or crappy benefits. These places make enough money to pay their workers a better wage. If White Castle can do it, so can all these other places.

Suzanne P. Miller
Suzanne P. Miller

wow, hope you never make a mistake at your job; and remember to be an asshole after you get your #1, because it will probably come with "secret sauce" next time you come in to eat, and trust me, THEY REMEMBER!

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

I love it when people make up fake numbers regarding the cost of union dues.

Richard Kyles
Richard Kyles

sure let's unionize fast food and you can get $15 an hour and pay the Union 80 percent of your check bunch of ignorance,

Suzanne P. Miller
Suzanne P. Miller

PS Have none of you ever made a mistake at work??? REALLY? you're right Snarzyk, this is nauseating!

Suzanne P. Miller
Suzanne P. Miller

ok then shut up about your burger not being made right....teenagers are not good employees. They don't have to be because they are still being taken care of by their parents. You can't have it both ways.

christen_gray
christen_gray

@jtodaro I am curious to know who you think will be working in these places during the day when most students are in school? I understand that $15/hr is high for a food service worker I just do not understand the assertion that students are the answer.

idnotavailabletome
idnotavailabletome

@Sharon Walker that means that the folks holding the jobs now won't be holding them for long as  they are not qualified for a 15 an hour job.  

idnotavailabletome
idnotavailabletome

@Suzanne P. Miller I will take the HS kid any day.  At least with them I know they will not be depending on this part time job to be a lifelong dream.

jtodaro
jtodaro

@christen_gray @jtodaro  Let me extend my "Teens and College Students" to also include anyone else that doesn't have a family/responsibilities in life, then. While $7.35 isn't a wage you can raise a family on, it's not the industries fault. If you're responsible enough to have a family and/or want more of the finer things in life, you're responsible enough to better your own life and be better skilled to get a better job.

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