Fast Food Forward

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Fast Food Forward is a movement of NYC fast food workers to raise wages and gain rights at work. It is part of the national movement of low-wage workers fighting for a better future.[1]

They have staged rolling strike-demonstrations against fast food restaurants in New York City, USA, the latest being on Thursday, 4 April 2013. (Reported here April 5th.)

In the April 4th action, demonstrators hit fast food restaurants in the city with a series of rallies, the first being at a McDonalds in midtown Manhattan, where roughly 100 people turned out. At noon a similar number clogged the entrance of a Wendy's restaurant near Penn Station.[2] Protests at other establishments were planned to occur throughout the day.[3]

Participants in the protests included workers from local Wendy's and Yum Inc's KFC restaurants.[4] According to Jonathin Westin, director of Fast Food Forward, as many as 400 workers from more than sixty restaurants around New York City committed to turn out for protests.[5]

Many fast food workers in New York make only the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Part time work is common, and even those working full time often must do so on an erratic schedule rather than a regular 9-to-5. Fast Food Forward organisers say that $10,000 to 18,000 are typical yearly earnings for a fast food worker in New York. The organisation is seeking to double the hourly wage of fast food workers in the city to $15 an hour.[6]

A search of the New York Daily News classifieds of 5 April 2013 reveals that of the first 11 rooms for rent for which the prices were listed in the ad (usually the cheaper ones) the average price was $155 a week, which is $8060 a year.[7]

Some fears have been expressed that the wage raise being asked for would cause a large increase in the price of hamburgers. The following is a rough estimate by Communpedia of the share of labour cost in the earnings of a fast food restaurant. Suppose, at a given time, a staff of ten: 3 on cash, one non-management supervisor up front (a "swing-manager"), 4 in the kitchen, one on cleaner/maintenance, and one on break. Suppose each cashier sells and gives a customer a meal ever four minutes on average; that's 15 an hour, 45 an hour for the three cashiers together. We'll be conservative and call it 40. Average meal price: ten dollars. The restaurant's gross take for the hour is then $400. The wages bill? If they're paying each person $7.50 an hour, it's $75. If they double the wage, another $75 might have to be passed on to the customer in the price of the food; ie., the gross take might have to become $475 instead of $400 – an 18.8% increase.

An advantage of the rolling strike-demonstration model being used by Fast Food Forward is that it uses cross-establishment cooperation, one result being that workers do not necessarily have to demonstrate at the same restaurant they work at, which would expose them to recognition by management and possible later reprisals. It also increases the size of the "picket line", although it shortens its duration.

Fast Food Forward is circulating the following petition:[8]

To: The CEOs of Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC, Taco Bell, and Burger King

I stand with the fast food workers of New York City who are fighting for $15 and the right to form a union without interference.

I believe that, here in America, everyone who works hard should be able to afford basic necessities like groceries, rent, and transportation for themselves and their families. Supporting your employees and their families with living wages is a critical contribution to achieving this vision.

Sincerely, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


  1. Quoted from the main page of the group's website: . Accessed 5 April 2013.
  2. "New York Fast Food Workers Turn Up Heat".
  3. "New York Fast Food Workers Turn Up Heat."
  4. Joel Rose, 4 April.
  5. "New York Fast Food Workers Turn Up Heat".
  6. "New York Fast Food Workers Turn Up Heat"
  7. I looked at the first two pages of results from


Joel Rose, "NYC's Fast-Food Workers Strike, Demand 'Living Wages' ". NPR, April 4 2013.

New York Fast-Food Workers Turn Up Heat On Pay Demands". Reuters via Voice of America news. April 5, 2013.

See also

U.S. fast-food strikes