Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist. Erik is a member of the People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street and co-writer of the Occupy Wall Street’s Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. As a published freelance photographer, he has documented activist groups actions in NYC since 2011.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
NYC Fast Food Workers in the Fight for $15; New York City Council Members; Union members; and Community allies unite to oppose Trump’s Pick of a Fast-Food CEO for U.S. Secretary of Labor
New York –In the run up to the Senate confirmation hearing of fast-food mogul Andy Puzder as U.S. Secretary of Labor, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other council members will join cooks and cashiers who are part of the Fight for $15 to lead a protest Thursday at the U.S. Department of Labor office in Manhattan.
New York City Council members are pledging support for working New Yorkers over the next four years and supporting a package of bills that will protect fast-food workers in New York City, ensuring they have adequate job protections that will provide much-needed stability for themselves and their families.
At a rally on Thursday council members will join with fast-food workers and allies to stand up for good jobs and their commitment to pass vital legislation that will create a Fair Work Week for fast food workers in the city. Council members have introduced three bills that require fast-food stores to give workers two weeks’ notice of their schedules and pay a “penalty” to workers if schedules are changed at the last minute; give current employees more hours before hiring new part-time workers to fill open shifts; and place restrictions on “clopenings,” the practice of requiring workers who close a store one night to come back a few hours later to open it the next morning. A fourth bill, the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act, would require employers to honor workers’ requests to deduct voluntary contributions from their paycheck to a not-for-profit organization that could fight for the workers, their families and their communities.
More than 30 City Council members have already signed on as co-sponsors of the bills.
Background on Puzder:
Thursday’s rally is part of a nationwide wave of actions to denounce the nomination of a CEO who is a symbol of the very rigged economy Donald Trump vowed to fix. Workers from coast to coast will rally against Puzder, who as CEO of CKE Restaurants presided over companies that stole workers’ wages, violated overtime laws and forced employees onto public assistance. The protest in New York is one of two-dozen planned from coast to coast Thursday ahead of Puzder’s confirmation hearing next week. Workers will carry signs that read “I’m not a robot and yes, I will sue if sexually harassed” and “Andy Puzder makes more in a day than I do in a year,” In an interview last year, Puzder said he prefers machines to workers because they “never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” He has been an outspoken opponent of minimum wage hikes that would allow his workers to meet their basic needs. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found in 2013 that fast-food CEOs like Puzder cost taxpayers $7.3 billion per year in public assistance by holding down pay for their employees.
As labor secretary, Puzder would be charged with upholding many of the labor laws and regulations CKE routinely violated during his time as CEO. In 60 percent of Department of Labor investigations since 2009, CKE restaurants and franchises were found to have violated wage and hour laws. Since Puzder became CEO of CKE in 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which falls under the DOL, has found 98 safety violations at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s locations, with 36 of them capable of causing death or grave physical harm.
Since fast-food workers launched the Fight for $15 over four years ago, the movement has won wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15/hour, by convincing everyone from voters to politicians to corporations to raise pay. The movement, which has resulted in $62 billion raises for America’s workers, was credited as one of the reasons median income jumped last year by the highest percentage since the 1960s.