While shareholders gathering inside the Sofitel for their annual meeting yesterday, multiple protests mobbed the sidewalks outside on West 44th Street.
Outside the hotel lobby, a crowd of Fast-food workers organized by the Fast Food Forward campaign packed the sidewalk, chanting their central demand: “$15 and a Union!”
Many of the employees speaking to the crowd referred to the wage theft they experienced at the hands of their employer, adding momentum to the announcement last week that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating the prevalence of wage-theft in the fast-food industry.
“We really need to put pressure on the New York State Attorney General to make sure he investigates this,” City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito told the crowd. “Corporations are going to continue to try to make their profits on the backs of the workers. We need to stand up and say that’s not acceptable.”
“I’m tired of working all week, going to cash my check, and the check bounces,” said Marcus Rose, who works at the Wendy’s on the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn. “A lot of people have children out here, but don’t have enough money to put clothes on their back.”
“You need to hear my voice today,” said Joseph Guerrera, another worker with the Fast Food Forward campaign. “We will not survive on $7.45.”
Down the block, another demonstration against Wendy’s was convened by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an advocacy group calling for better wages for farmworkers through its Fair Food campaign. The Immokalee Workers have had success in persuading some fast-food giants to sign on to the campaign. Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Chipotle have all pledged to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes to help support farmworkers wages. Wendy’s, to date, hasn’t.