Rebellion in the Kitchen
Nationwide Walkout by Workers Signals Backlash Against Low-Wage Employers
Published: September 4, 2013
The NRA also took credit for new laws in six states that pre-empted local governments from requiring paid sick leave. The NRA claimed better wages and benefits would kill jobs, despite its own forecast that profits would reach a “record high” in 2013. Nonetheless, the NRA convinced Republicans, and enough Democrats, to vote against workers.
These frustrations have not stopped activists from turning to the political process, which has produced some notable victories. But it has underscored that bolder and newer strategies were needed, like direct action such as Thursday’s nationwide walkouts, as well as taking steps to put minimum wage and sick leave laws directly before voters in states that allow ballot initiatives.
“It is not organic,” said Jen Kern, national issues campaign director forWorking Families, speaking of the coast-to-coast organizing. Her organization was instrumental in raising the minimum wage and passing paid sick leave legislation in Connecticut and New York City. “It’s like Rosa Parks being trained. This is a serious commitment to calling out the scourge of low wages.”
Americans should pay closer attention to the protest walkouts by fast-food workers demanding $15 an hour and sick leave because what ishappening at the bottom of the economic ladder is increasingly defining the fate and future of America’s middle class.
“These jobs not only affect our economy, but the existence of the middle class depends on making sure that there are good jobs,” said Rebecca Smith,coordinator of theNational Employment Law Project’s (NELP) Immigrant Worker Justice Project. “If jobs leave money in people’s pockets, they’ll spend it and businesses will grow, and businesses will hire. Everybody does better when everybody does better.”
Steve Rosenfield and Jodie Gummow are contributing writers and are on staff at Alternet.com. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.