New York City’s Fast Food Workers Walk Out

On the 45th anniversary of MLK's assassination, New York City fast food workers tell why they're went on strike to demand higher wage and better working conditions.

By Seth Freed Wessler Apr 04, 2013

Workers from McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King and other chain restaurants in New York City went on strike today for the second time in six months. Strike organizers are calling it the largest mass action of fast food workers ever: over 400 employees from 60 restaurants are refusing to work today, according to New York Communities for Change, the group spearheading the strike. They’re demanding benefits, $15 hourly wages–"We can’t survive on $7.25," workers chanted at rallies in Brooklyn and Manhattan–and say they want a union. caught up with some of these striking workers this morning as they rallied in front of a Wendy’s on Fulton St. in downtown Brooklyn. Many held signs like those carried by Memphis sanitation workers in the 1968 strike championed by Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I am a woman;" "I am a man." Today marks 45 years since King was shot and killed while supporting that strike.

Shalema Simpson, 24 

Brooklyn. Employer: Wendy’s

"I have a three-year-old and I’m not making enough money right now so I’m living with my grandfather and four other people in a one-bedroom apartment. I am supposed to be working inside there right now but I am out here instead. I’ve worked at McDonalds, Hale and Hearty, Shake Shack and they are all bad but right now this is the worst establishment. Sometimes our checks bounce. It’s too much. I don’t know if [the strike] will change anything but at least we’re being heard."