Would You Cross a Picket Line for a Quarter-Pounder?



In a hush-hush meeting at Cobo last week, fast food workers and union organizers from across the country planned strikes they said would hit at least 15 cities August 29.

Organizers said 500 Detroit fast food toilers had already struck May 10, part of a wave of walkouts that have hit eight cities thus far, demanding $15 an hour and a union.

Contrary to the image, fast food workers are not all teenagers. All the ones I interviewed on a west-side Popeye's picket line in May were single moms in their 20s, living on $7.40 an hour.

Turned out McDonald’s worker Aunyetta Crosby, 25, lived a few blocks from me. Asked why she came out, she said, “I want to get the minimum wage up so we can all live comfortably,” including her nearly-two-year-old daughter and her mom, who’s worked at KFC for 14 years, always just above minimum wage. Her mom has gotten raises only when legislators raised the minimum, Crosby said.

Her $7.40 is way under the national median wage for fast food cooks, cashiers and crew: $8.94. And the line pushed by management that their entry-level jobs are steppingstones to better ones is nonsense: manager jobs are just 2.2% of the $200 billion a year industry.

We work too hard to be paid minimum wage,” said Popeye’s worker Wontika Reed, 23.

Mike Illitch has been showing anti-union videos to his Little Caesar's workers, according to one burger-slinger active in the campaign. He hoped Illitch was vulnerable to pressure right now because of all the corporate welfare he's about to receive to build another stadium downtown.

The local campaign is called D-15 and is run by Good Jobs Now, the local coalition led by the Service Employees union.

If you're planning on stopping for a Pepsi or a bite at McDonald's, Popeye's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Long John Silver's, or Little Caesar's next Thursday, look for the picket line, and drive on.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.