Fast Food Workers and Supporters Rally, Walk Out, March for Living Wage in Philly

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By Dustin Slaughter

Photos by Joshua Albert

Fast food workers with Fight for 15 went on strike and, with the help of 15 Now Philly in the early morning hours at Broad and Allegheney, even served free breakfast to would-be McDonald’s customers outside the fast food restaurant, followed by a march through Center City today.

In a press release, organizers touted this “Community Strikeline” as a relatively new tactic rolled out to put pressure on fast food restaurants, with the hope that other chapters across the country would employ it too:

Boycotts in working class neighborhoods can fail without alternative ways for residents to obtain affordable food, because customers are also low wage employees. 15 Now Philly worker-members will demonstrate that there are alternative ways for every worker to organize our financial resources and strike back against companies that harm our neighbors.

Fight for 15 members have been organizing for some time now to not only win a living wage for service industry workers, but to unionize them too.

Later in the day, demonstrators weaved their way through the streets of Center City from Broad and Arch, where Fight for 15 fast food workers held another strike line, with some breaking off to demonstrate in front of a Suburban Station Dunkin Donuts – and successfully managing to convince two workers there to walk off the job.

September and November saw large actions from fast food workers in Philadelphia, and groups like 15 Now and Fight for 15 are trying hard to win City Council members to their side, such as soon-to-be incumbent Kenyatta Johnson, although he is currently mum on specifics, due in part to the perceived legal hurdles a move to hike the city wage would unquestionably entail.

Similar wage legislation has already passed in cities across the country, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are considering the same.

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The Inquirer‘s Tricia L. Nadonly reported on Monday that the city solicitor has started researching whether such a move is legally permitted. A 2006 clause added to the state’s minimum wage law, signed into law in 1968, has long been observed as prohibiting localities from instituting their own minimums.

15 Now Philly disputes this. In a press release announcing its intention to push City Council members to adopt the increase, the group stated:

[The law] clearly states that its purpose is to prevent the depression of wages and realize bargaining parity for working class employees.

“I think they are good arguments,” Bob Curley, a Philadelphia labor lawyer, told Next City in November.

The group’s next move? To prepare to “ramp up pressure on council citywide,” according to 15 Now Philly’s media liason Kate Goodman.

Editor’s note: Corrections to this article include 15 Now organizing the “Community Strikeline” at Broad and Allegheny, while the rest of yesterday’s actions were led by Fight for 15 fast food workers.

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