As part of what’s being called potentially the largest organizing effort in decades, St. Louis fast food workers walked off the job yesterday demanding living wages and a union. St. Louis workers joined fast food and retail workers in New York City and Chicago who held similar strikes over the last several weeks.
The average fast food worker in St. Louis earns only $7.35/hr, amounting to a yearly salary of under $19,000. As Jimmy John’s worker, Rasheen Aldridge, explained, “It just isn’t enough to cover our basic needs. With rent, food, health care, transportation, and often times a family to support, we’re struggling to get by. A lot of us are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. It’s downright shameful that someone who works for a living is forced to rely on public assistance because their employers aren’t paying them enough.”
That’s why Rasheen and his coworkers kicked off the strikes on Wednesday, which spread to McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Panera, Subway, and more throughout the day Thursday.
The truth is, paying fast food workers a livable wage will not only help workers support their families, but it will also help strengthen St. Louis’s entire economy. When workers are paid a fair wage, they have money to buy the everyday items they need, keeping the money in the community and making neighborhoods safer.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri members were out in full force to lend support to these brave workers, turning out to their picket lines and marching side by side in this fight that impacts us all.
“I’m here because I know that ensuring everyone makes a living wage that can support our families will lead to a better, stronger St. Louis overall. People who get up and go to work everyday should not have to live in poverty, and I’m proud to support fellow St. Louisians who are standing up for what’s right,” said Bettie Collins, a home care worker employed through Addus and an SEIU HCIIMK member residing in St. Louis.
As St. Louis strikers return to work today, the movement spreads to Detroit. You can support striking workers by adding your name to the following two petitions: