Tag Archives: living wage

A living wage for Worcester workers! City Council meeting Tues., May 9 – vote to be taken re: $15/hour pay rate for all Worcester workers! Go, Councilor Khrystian King, go!!💛💛💛

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Dear Friends,

The Fight for $15 is before the Worcester City Council and we need your help.

Please join the Worcester Community-Labor Coalition, SEIU Community Action, Worcester County Food Bank & Raise Up Massachusetts on Tuesday May 9 at 6:30 pm at City Hall, 3rd floor, to fight for the 31,000 Worcester workers whom would be affected by this wage increase.

Councilor Khrystian King’s resolution calls for the City Council to support statewide legislation for a $15 minimum wage across Massachusetts. You can show support for this resolution with your presence. The public will also be given a chance to offer spoken testimony.

Here are the ways you can support $15:

1. Attend the City Council meeting Tuesday May 9 at City Hall, 6:30 pm

2. Offer testimony on how $15 would affect you and your family (2 minutes max per person)

3. Share the Facebook Event

4. Please contact the following Councilors who are not yet supporters. Below is a script for your calls/emails, along with talking points on $15. Please keep us posted with the results of these conversations.

Gary Rosen Dist 5 Councilor 508-775-3006 RosenG@worcesterma.gov

Tony Economou Dist 1 Councilor 508-963-3638 EconomouT@worcesterma.gov

Moe Bergman At-Large 508-981-5934 BergmanM@worcesterma.gov

Konnie Lukes At-Large 508-425-0042 LukesK@worcesterma.gov

Michael Gaffney At-Large 508-868-6878, 508-770-1007 GaffneyM@worcesterma.gov

City Council Meeting – $15 Minimum Wage Resolution

Tuesday May 9, 6:30 pm
Worcester City Hall
455 Main Street, 3rd Floor

Thank you for your active support! See you Tuesday!

Martha, Calvin, Kevin and Pablo

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PHONE/EMAIL SCRIPT:

Dear Councilor [ _____ ]

My name is [ _____ ] I am a resident in Worcester I am contacting you because I am a supporter for the fight for $15. I ask you to support Councilor Kings 10a resolution to support the statewide legislation on the $15 minimum wage. I support raising wages to $15 because (insert 1 reason from talking points or tell your own story).

Working families in Worcester would love to have your vote.

Thank you for your consideration.
Name[ _____ ]

TALKING POINTS TO CONSIDER:

· For employers, higher wages mean more efficient workers and less employee turnover, making it easier to recruit and retain workers and helping their bottom line.

· When workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it at small businesses in their neighborhoods, helping those local businesses grow and create more jobs.

· Since June 2014, as the Massachusetts minimum wage bill rose from $8 to $11, our state’s economy added more than 150,000 jobs, and unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2000;

· 40% of Worcester Workers would see a raise if the statewide legislation passed.

What’s fair pay?

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Worcester’s Grafton Street Elementary School. For years elementary school teachers all over America – mostly women at the time – were grossly under-paid. pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

We are at last at the place where there is some hope that women will be paid the same as men for equal work. That has taken a while. As a former teacher, I can remember the days when women teachers were paid less for the same or greater effort, did not get regular raises for experience, could not teach if married, then could not teach if pregnant, etc. I recall being told that only men could get a raise, as they were heads of household, and I as a woman could not be a “head of household” – despite the fact that I, like many women, was the main wage earner in my family, as my husband was in school and received only a meager stipend.

It was really high school teachers who spearheaded the move to organizing for more fair pay. Too many of us who were elementary school teachers were female, and we were accustomed to serving but not expecting proper pay. We taught children; high school teachers said they taught subjects. But now, after decades of battling, all teachers are on a multi-step schedule, based on educational level and years of service, not on the sex of the teacher.

It has been a tough battle to get fair pay for female-dominated professions – and the battle is by no means over.

This society still gives lip service to the vital role of raising and educating children, said to be our future. But we still pay near-starvation wages to those to whom we entrust our allegedly most precious possessions: our children. Early childhood programs of top quality are few and far between, very expensive, and overfilled. I went to a public preschool at three years of age, in France, in 1933 – that is how far behind we are here in America. My parents, who never even entrusted us to a babysitter, entrusted us to that French public school program. They could not have afforded a private program, as we came to France with nothing. Of course, there, teachers were honored and looked up to, and I do not remember my parents ever saying a bad word against teachers. If we children complained, they said we should learn all we could from this year’s teacher(s), and next year we might get one we liked better.

I recall coming home one day and announcing to my parents that henceforth I would have nothing to do with money, as the teacher had told us that “money is the root of all evil.” As a testament to the power of teachers’ influence, it was years before I really felt comfortable having anything to do with what was popularly called “filthy lucre.” My parents, loath to contradict the teacher, explained gently to me that the real saying was: ”THE LOVE OF MONEY is the root of all evil.”

Our system of compensation for work, our reward system, seems to reward those who do the least, with the most. Hedge fund managers, who move money from here to there and catch billions in between, are fabulously rich; CEOs who barely know what goes on in their businesses get millions and bonuses; speculators of all sorts are rewarded outrageously, while those who die for us have to battle to get treated for the horrendous diseases they pick up in battle. The list is endless! Suffice it to say: We reward the most vital jobs the least, and the least vital the most.

Go, Worcester Community-Labor Coalition, go!!!! TODAY! BE THERE!

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TODAY! TUESDAY, January 26

5 p.m.

Worcester City Council Economic Development sub-Committee Meeting

Worcester City Hall

Today the Worcester Community-Labor Coalition and allies will be presenting our proposal for a Worcester TIF Policy to city leaders.

We believe all TIF recipients must meet Worcester’s Equal Opportunity, CORI and Anti-Discrimination policies.

We believe all big developments receiving tax dollars should be built legally and by reputable contractors.

We believe all people who receive jobs through projects created through the TIFs should be guaranteed a livable wage of $15/hr.

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Worcester is long overdue for a TIF Policy.

We need better oversight of how our tax dollars are being spent.

Worcester needs a TIF policy that supports targeted economic development without putting an additional burden on taxpayers.

We need to be certain that economic development created because of tax benefits, benefits the members of our community.

TIFs should:

create quality jobs for local residents, both construction and permanent jobs

create job opportunities for our young people

Big developers should be held to a higher standard when receiving tax relief.

PLEASE come to Worcester City Hall to support these proposals! Let Worcester city councilors know you support LOCAL LABOR, LOCAL YOUTH AND A LIVING WAGE!

Go, Haymarket Cafe of Northampton, go! Kudos to Peter and David Simpson!

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Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds Peter and David Simpson for Raising Wages for their Workers and Strengthening the Local Economy!
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the House floor yesterday, Congressman Jim McGovern applauded the recent decision of Haymarket Café, a Northampton restaurant, to move to a $15 per hour minimum wage for its workers.

Congressman McGovern praised the decision as the right thing to do for workers, the smart thing to do for its business, and a positive step for the Northampton economy and community.
 
Full Text of Jim’s Floor Speech Below:
 
“Today, I’m honored to share the story of the Haymarket Café, started by brothers Peter and David Simpson, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
 
“One of the surest signs of a vibrant local economy is a lively restaurant scene. You know a town or region is humming economically when you have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. It’s a sign that people have enough money left over after paying the bills to spend on treating themselves and their families. It’s a strong indication that people feel secure in the direction of the economy.
 
“But for millions of low-wage workers across the country, the story is more complicated than that, and the picture is not at all pretty. For all the economic vibrancy associated with restaurant culture — and though restaurants employ almost 1 in 10 private sector workers — restaurant workers are among the worst-paid, worst-treated within the economy as a whole.
 
“While non-restaurant private sector workers make a median hourly wage of $18, restaurant workers earn a median hourly wage of $10, including tips. The results are predictable: more than 16 percent of restaurant workers live below the poverty line.
 
“And this picture is made even worse by how it is skewed along race and gender lines. The highest paid positions in restaurants tend to be held by men and people who are white, while the lowest paid positions are typically held by women and people of color. And at the bottom of the ladder are undocumented workers, who comprise over 15 percent of the restaurant workforce — more than twice the rate for non-restaurant sectors.
 
“The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are forward-thinking restaurant owners who are choosing the high road. Restaurants where conscious efforts are made to break down gender and ethnic divisions and that choose to pay a living wage with good benefits. And if you ask them, the owners of these establishments will tell you that they choose this path because it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do financially. They choose this path because it’s a solid business model that improves the chances of success in a highly competitive industry.
 
“I am proud to represent one of those restaurants in my district. The Haymarket Café, in Northampton, Massachusetts, has led the way for almost a quarter century in treating its employees with respect and paying them a living wage.
 
“I attended an event a couple of weeks ago at the Haymarket Café where the owner, Peter Simpson, announced that his restaurant was moving to a $15 per hour minimum wage and would be eliminating tips.
 
“Now, I’ve known Peter for a long time, and I wasn’t surprised that he would take such a step.. Peter opened the Haymarket with his brother, David, almost 25 years ago, and from the beginning they were committed to paying a fair wage and creating a positive work environment for their employees.
 
“But in talking to Peter, I realized that his decision — while it reflected his idealism — was rooted in hard-nosed business sense. You don’t survive and thrive for a quarter century in the highly-competitive restaurant industry, especially in a small, tight-knit community like Northampton, if your business model isn’t air tight. Every decision you make has to make sense financially in order to succeed and stay competitive.
 
“So the decision to go to a $15 per hour minimum wage and eliminate tips was not something Peter took lightly. He did his homework. He looked at other restaurants in other cities that’d made a similar move. He talked to all his employees. He worked closely with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, which is leading the charge to better the lives of low-wage immigrant workers in Western Massachusetts.
 
“Eliminating tips allowed Peter to make the wages between better-paid waiters and less well-paid kitchen staff more equitable. It allowed his wait staff to earn a wage they could count on, rather than having to depend on the tipping whims of customers. It also gave him increased staffing flexibility—he could train all his staff to do all jobs so he could more easily shift people around when necessary. In committing to a $15 per hour minimum wage, Peter also increased staff loyalty, while decreasing turnover and training costs.
 
“As a result of Peter’s bold decision, the Haymarket Café has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support. Staff and customers are equally enthusiastic, and business has jumped. This commitment to wage equity has shown once again to be a sound business strategy and that a business based on such principles can provide a decent living for its staff and contribute to the economic health of the community.
 
“The Haymarket Café is living proof, especially in an industry with such a dismal track record on wages, that paying a living wage is good for business. That a commitment to wage equity makes financial sense. The restaurant industry can and must do better. And I’m proud to say the Haymarket Café is leading the way.”
 

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders comes to North High School January 2

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Kudos to Worcester’s North High School students, staff and the City of Worcester!

By Gordon Davis

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is coming to North High School January 2.

This is a good thing for North High School and Worcester. Although it is not quite on the level of President Obama visiting Worcester Technical High School on graduation day, this is a very big deal!

I cannot say I agree with U.S. Senator Sanders on everything, but I agree that the excesses of capitalism need mitigation. Mr. Sanders, who represents Vermont and is an Independent who leans social/progressive Democrat, is trying to reduce the economic disparities of the American profit system in order to save it from itself. Although he thinks this is revolutionary, it is not. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal in the 1930s to save capitalism from collapsing in a crisis similar to the Great American Recession of 2008.  Saving capitalism is almost a traditional or conservative political agenda.

I disagree with Mr. Sanders in that I do not think the profits system, economic disparities, and their superstructure of racism should be saved. Generation after generation, we go through an economic crisis of one sort or another. It is time we had a system where American corporations are not legal persons and money is not speech.

Getting back to the issues of Senator’s Sanders visit to North High School: For years North High students have been the butt of color-blind racism. I remember when the old North High School on Salisbury Street was closed and the kids from the East Side had to go to a remodeled middle school building, the former Harrington Way Junior School.  Students and families on this side of our city did not have a new high school for 100 years!

In the 1990s the City of Worcester had an opportunity to build a new high school. There was a discussion whether to build a New North High School or a new vocational school. Some people suggested that the two high schools be combined. This discussion did not go far, as many of the Worcester Voke Alums seemed to look down on the students from North High as not quite as good as the Voke students. I have no other explanation for not combining the two schools except a sort of color blind racism.

Even after the new North High School was built, I remember Worcester City Councilor Konstantina (Konnie) Lukes complained about the bad kids at North High School. She quipped: “Maybe it was not a new building that they needed.” I am even more upset that some of the teachers have taken the attitude of the need for full-time Worcester police officers in the Worcester Public Schools because of the “bad” kids. The hurtful words of the Marine who headed up JROTC comes to mind. Even the EAW says that the teachers need police protection because of bad students. All of this is hurtful and discouraging to the students. 

Our children are no different than children elsewhere. I think color blind racism is a factor behind these comments and policies.

Kudos to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for choosing to come to this inner-city school whose students have in many ways been emotionally and verbally abused by so many!

May this Bernie Sanders event be the start of a great new year for North High School, all of the children in Worcester, the City of Worcester – and Bernie Sanders!

Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Massachusetts home care workers
first in nation to win $15/hour starting wage!

Boston – Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration.

According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage.

Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.

“This victory, winning $15 per hour, it means we are no longer invisible,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield, MA. Cummings-Akers cares for a local senior and became a union activist at the onset of the campaign. She was also a member of the statewide PCA negotiating team that reached the agreement with the Baker administration. “This is a huge step forward not just for home care workers, but also toward ensuring the safety, dignity, and independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” she added. “We are a movement of home care workers united by the idea that dignity for caregivers and the people in our care is possible. Today, we showed the world that it is possible.”

“Massachusetts home care workers are helping to lead the Fight for $15 – and winning,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “We applaud Governor Baker for helping to forge this pathway to dignity for PCAs and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts seniors and people with disabilities who rely on quality home care services to remain in the community or in the workforce. As the senior population grows, the demand for home care services is increasing. By helping to ensure a living wage for these vital caregivers, Governor Baker is taking a critical step with us toward reducing workforce turnover and ensuring that Massachusetts families can access the quality home care they need for their loved ones.”

The home care workers’ journey began in 2006 when they banded together with senior and disability advocates to pass legislation giving Personal Care Attendants the right to form a union – a right they previously had been denied because of an obscure technicality in state law.

After passing the Quality Home Care Workforce Act to win that right and introduce other improvements to the home care delivery system in 2007, the PCAs voted to join 1199SEIU in 2008 through the largest union election in the history of New England. 1199SEIU is the fastest-growing and most politically active union in Massachusetts.

Prior to the legislative and organizing campaigns, PCA wages had stagnated for years at $10.84 per hour. In a series of three contracts since forming their union and through several major mobilizations, rallies, and public campaigns, the PCAs achieved a wage of $13.38 on July 1st, 2014.

Last year, the Massachusetts home care workers also united with the burgeoning Fight for $15 movement and the local #WageAction coalition, helping to kick off the $15 wage effort in the Bay State with rallies in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester on June 12th, 2014.

Home care workers took to the streets again on April 14th, 2015 as part of a massive Fight for $15 mobilization that drew thousands to the streets of Boston. That Boston-based action served as the kickoff for similar coordinated protests in more than 200 cities and 50 countries across the globe.

Caregivers say they are excited that the picket action they had planned for their current contract expiration date of June 30th can now serve as a celebration of this achievement and the spirit of cooperation that made it possible.

“This is an inspiring moment for home care workers, but also for our children – and our children’s children,” said a beaming Rosario Cabrera, a home care worker from New Bedford, MA whose children Kendra, age 14, and Daniel, age 12, were with her at the negotiating session as workers cheered the new agreement with the Baker administration. “I am so proud that I can show my children and someday tell my grandchildren that I was part of this moment in history, that I was part of a movement for social justice. We want all home care workers to win $15 per hour – and to do it first in Massachusetts fills us with pride. It is evidence of what people can do when we organize and negotiate in good faith to reach common ground.”

“Not only is this going to help the PCAs, but this is going to help us as consumers because it’s going to be easier to hire an attendant now that they can receive a dignified living wage,” said Olivia Richard, age 31, a paraplegic consumer who lives in Brighton, MA. “In the past, consumer employers have had issues with getting PCAs simply because the wage wasn’t enough. This is going to make a huge difference in our lives, as well.”

In negotiations, workers and the Baker administration reached an agreement extending the current collective bargaining agreement and establishing a commitment that all PCAs statewide will receive a starting rate of at least $15 per hour by July 1, 2018. Workers will receive an immediate .30 cent raise effective July 1, 2015, a portion of which will be paid retroactively once the contract is ratified.

A new round of discussions will then begin no later than January 1, 2016 to solidify details on the series of wage increases that will elevate PCAs to the $15 mark by the agreed upon date of July 1, 2018. Meanwhile, PCAs across the state will vote by mail ballot on ratifying the contract extension and the terms therein, including the commitment to establish a statewide minimum $15 starting rate.

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Representing more than 52,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts and nearly 400,000 workers across the East Coast, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all. 1199SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.

Main South: Fight for $15

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MINIMUM WAGE MUST BE A LIVING WAGE!

Tuesday, April 14

Fight for $15 rally

At McDonald’s on Main Street

12 p.m.

995 Main St, Worcester

*A bus to attend the Boston Rally will leave from here!

Call EPOCA Co-director Delia Vega for details 508-713-8420

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Boston:

Rally near the Northeastern & Ruggles MBTA stops

4-6 p.m.

*Exact location TBA

*A bus to attend the Boston Rally will leave from here

Contact wageaction.org details 617-952-4211

Job gains … but many still under-employed

The seasonally adjusted Massachusetts Employment Population Ratio ticked up again in December from 61.5% to 61.7%, up from 59.8% in December 2013 but still far down from the pre-recession high of 64.2% in December 2006 or the pre-dot-com recession high of 66.5% in December 2000.

The Mass Division of Labor and Workforce Development reported today that the official seasonally-adjusted U3 rate, which leaves out those who haven’t applied for a job in over a month, involuntary part time workers, anyone who has never held a job, anyone receiving a pension no matter how small or who is putting in even a few hours of unpaid work on a family business or farm, is down to 5.5% from 5.8% in November and 6.7% in December 2013.

Chris Horton of the Worcester Unemployment Action Group commented: “While these figures and the direction in which they are moving are encouraging, this is very far from showing the healthy job market that the latest official U3 Unemployment Rate figures seem to point to. Many of our members are struggling to get by on part time and marginal work or work far below their skill and education levels for wages far less than they need, but would not be classed as unemployed. We are watching the situation cautiously, hoping this upturn will continue, but we don’t see where the demand for goods and services is coming from that could sustain it, because most of the people we know have no money to spend.”

Michelle Arnhold of Worcester, who described herself as a “highly educated single parent with two special needs children”, when asked of what she thought of President Obama’s claim that the job market is almost back to normal, said:  “That’s inaccurate and uneducated.  If he actually came out of his office and spent a day with us regular folk who are looking and begging for work every day he would think differently.  I’ve been unemployed for two years and I’ve filled out over 200 applications for everything from healthcare to construction, entry level jobs to jobs I have a degree for. I would do any kind of work to support my children but there’s just nothing out there. They need to go back to the drawing board and look a little deeper, and then report actual facts.”

Hope gov-elect Charlie Baker reads this editorial …

… because this is how it feels for most of us Worcesterites! Read this editorial from The New York Times because the right-wing Telegram and Gazette editorial board won’t print the truth for ya and former Democratic hero and Mass Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, now making $200,000 a year at the Chamber of Commerce, urged everyone to VOTE WRONG ON THE BALLOT QUESTIONS, shitting all over working people (and the environment). Murray, this past election, was anti-living wage, anti-expanded bottle bill, anti-earned sick time … what a whore.  

–  Rosalie Tirella

Job Growth, but No Raises

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

The employment report for October, released on Friday, reflects a steady-as-she-goes economy. And that is a problem, because for most Americans, more of the same is not good enough. Since the recovery began in mid-2009, inflation-adjusted figures show that the economy has grown by 12 percent; corporate profits, by 46 percent; and the broad stock market, by 92 percent. Median household income has contracted by 3 percent.

Against that backdrop, the economic challenge is to reshape the economy in ways that allow a fair share of economic growth to flow into worker pay. The October report offers scant evidence that this challenge is being met. Worse,the legislative agenda of the new Republican congressional majority, including corporate tax cuts and more deficit reduction, would reinforce rather than reverse the lopsided status quo. …

To read entire editorial, CLICK HERE 

My McDonald’s …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosalie and Jett, autumn 2012 … I am wearing the fall coat I wore last night while walking my little boy …

 

Greenwood Street McDonald’s worker, this afternoon

By Rosalie Tirella

Last night I walked my dog …and I wore my fall coat because it was so cold out. Heavy, dark, lined, my fave coat is perfect for the season, will cuddle me as I make my way through the Woo autumn landscape … .   Walking Jett, my little Mountain Feist/Husky, I thought  about the innocents of Syria – women, children  – dying from inhaling burning, toxic gases. Horrific ..  I want our president to intervene so badly …

I worried about the workers of America and wondered why we, the greatest country on earth, pay millions and millions of our people $7 or $8 an hour for all their hard work – and leave it to them to survive – meanly. Labor Day weekend and to have so many Americans struggling is disconcerting, depressing … These days in the USA, there is so little respect for labor! Our unions are at their weakest. Low wage workers (at least in Woo) too afraid to make some noise, agitate.

I visited my local  McDonalds today (on Greenwood Street) to take some more pics for my ICT stories on RAISING THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE TO AT LEAST $10/hour. The manager spoke to me. She said she had to give my paper – the one with the McDonald’s worker on the cover – to “headquarters” for them to peruse. And no, I could not talk with her or her workers or even take photos of the property for an InCity Times story. She told me she had liked the story. It was a good story. But everyone had to just work – they were alerted by “headquarters” that there would be walkouts and protests at McDonald’s all over the country. She acted as if this were a bad thing.

I said: PLEASE, WAKE UP!!! America supports you! You deserve to be making $10 or $11 an hour! You have the American right to organize. There is nothing wrong with demanding a living wage for a hard day’s night. Let’s get together, here! Please!!!

No go.

She was young – in her mid 20s – and she felt part of the McDonald’s team.  AND SHE DID NOT WANT TO LOSE HER JOB!

Her uniform was crisp and clean. Her hair pulled back, her name tag glinted in the summer sun (she was outside having a smoke).

I tried to educate, proselytize. I think if I had hung on a bit longer, she would have called 911.

I went inside “my” McDonald’s. I looked for my young friend, the young man I put on the cover of ICT a few issues ago. I did not see him. I got afraid for him. … I began chatting up another manager, a Latina who looked worried. I saw an older woman – late 50s maybe early 60s – at the fryolator removing baskets of french fries. She looked sweaty, tired. She turned to look at me as I spoke. My heart broke for this lady.

I got a coffee – fair trade, Newman’s own – all profits go to Paul Newman charities, specifically his Hole in the Wall camps for kids suffering from cancer.

The big cheeses of McDonald’s make billions of dollars. And they have tried to move in the right direction re: animal rights.

Why can’t they see people rights???

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To learn more about the fight to raise the wages of fast-food workers in America, click here!