Thursday, April 4, 2013

45 years after MLK's death, 'I Am A Man' strike signs at landfills, fast food restaurants

Teamsters striking Republic Services today in Half Moon Bay.
A Burger King was supposed to open in New York City today. It didn't.

A Republic Services landfill was supposed to accept trash in Half Moon Bay, Calif., today. It didn't.

It's been 45 years since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated during a sanitation strike in Memphis. Workers are still carrying on the civil rights leader's great struggle for economic justice today at waste facilities and fast food restaurants.

As Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said in a press statement about the Republic Services strike,
Like Dr. King said in Memphis, all labor has worth. Sanitation workers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public health. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Today on the East Coast, low-wage fast food workers evoke the Memphis strike by carrying "I Am A Man" signs on the picket line. On the West Coast, Teamster sanitation workers are doing the same.

In 1968, Memphis's anti-worker mayor was a man named Henry Loeb. Today, his torch has been passed to Bill Gates, Republic Services' biggest shareholder, and to the CEOs of Yum Brands, McDonalds and other multinational corporations.

Both the sanitation and the fast food workers use the rhetoric and tactics of the Memphis strikers, and both sought inspiration directly from veterans of that great battle.

Republic Services Teamsters striking the Carbon Limestone Landfill in Youngstown since March 28 extended their picket line today to five Bay Area cities in California, including the Ox Mountain Landfill in Half Moon Bay. At the same time hundreds of low-wage fast food workers walked off the job and picketed McDonald's and Burger King restaurants in New York City.

In New York City, hundreds of fast food workers walked off the job. CNN Money reports,
Noel Scott ... makes $5.45 an hour plus tips and has to work two other jobs to pay the bills.
Scott joined a protest Thursday outside of a Wendy’s in midtown Manhattan, along with about 100 other fast food workers and activists. They were part of demonstrations held at 70 of New York City’s McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Yum Brands-owned Pizza Hut and KFC locations. The protests were organized by a coalition of labor, community and clergy groups called Fast Food Forward... 
The group is asking employers to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour, and for the right to organize without retaliation and intimidation. Currently, the median pay for the nearly 50,000 fast food workers in New York City is $9 an hour, or $18,500 a year, according to the New York Labor Department. That’s about $4,500 lower than Census Bureau’s poverty income threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four. 
Today's striking workers are using social media to the hilt. Messages of solidarity on both the Republic Services Teamsters Facebook page and on New York Community for Change.

Today in New York City.
Twitter is alive with tweets and twitpics of pickets at landfills and closed restaurants.

From Twitter we learn:
Edwin Guzman, pulling $75 a week at a Brooklyn Burger King, was fired for signing a union petition, then reinstated. 
Republic Services workers create picket lines in 5 CA cities in support of  Youngstown strike
Overheard woman not part of the protest saying "I'm not gonna by food there today" #fastfoodfwd
More Republic Services workers join picket line 
Signs say "I am a woman" as well as "I am a man" in nod to MLK/sanitation workers strike
Stay strong.