It's past time for fast food workers to get a living wage

Fast food workers are the coal miners of America's 21st Century. They want a raise -- and they deserve one. My front page article in today's Daily News (Promo code: Z42U if you're having any trouble reading it.) Here's an excerpt:

Over the past two decades, with the Industrial Revolution and its union wages all but a memory, fast-food jobs have skyrocketed - now employing roughly 3.5 million Americans and as many as 15,000 Philadelphians.

In a new service-based economy, flipping burgers and manning the drive-through is no longer just a part-time starter job for eager high-school students, but now a long-term solution for people on the wide bottom of the economic pyramid - folks lacking a diploma, single moms or those escaping long-term unemployment.

The ones who stay behind the counter have found not only that it's hard to claw much above the $7.25 minimum wage, but that they have little or no leverage with the big chains or their franchisees - and no one speaking on their behalf.

Until now. Starting last November, thousands of fast-food workers in a half-dozen U.S. cities from New York to Seattle have staged noisy one-day strikes, even forcing some outlets to shut their doors as employees chant for a sizable raise to $15 an hour and demand the right to unionize. Some males carried placards proclaiming "I Am a Man" - a shout-out to the now-iconic 1968 Memphis sanitation strike at which Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

If you want to learn more, my colleague Derrick Moore has done an excellent Storify on how the movement has grown. Should fast-food workers get $15 an hour? They have every right to demand that -- and at the least there should be a national minimum wage of $10 an hour.

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