When you ain't got nothin you got nothin to lose
The [Walmart] protests also inspired another group of low-wage workers to stage their own. Last week, about 200 fast-food workers in New York City walked out of their workplaces—chains affected included Burger King, Wendy's and McDonald's—to demand a "living wage" of $15 an hour and an end to the practice of keeping workers on part-time hours to avoid giving them benefits or overtime. The employees also want to form a union for the city's estimated 50,000 fast-food workers to negotiate pay and benefits.
One protester was fired but reinstated after community leaders, including New York City council members, persuaded the management at the Fulton Mall Wendy's in Brooklyn to take her back.
Jonathan Westin, organizing director of the nonprofit New York Communities for Change and one of the organizers of the latest protests, said the Black Friday strikes at Walmart inspired the fast-food protesters to put aside their fears of losing their jobs. "Workers saw that you could step out and be courageous and take on your bosses," Westin said. The group had been talking to fast-food workers since the summer about working conditions and unionizing, but last week was the first major demonstration.
Most fast-food employees, he noted, work part time and are paid minimum wage ($7.25 an hour), so they don't make enough money to support their families. "Many have to rely on public assistance," Westin said. "The taxpayers are fronting the bill for what these multibillion corporations are refusing to pay in wages and benefits."
The Walmart and fast-food protests are remarkable because low-wage employees are often the most vulnerable and easily replaced in the workforce, and so they rarely publicly complain about working conditions. Angela Cornell, director of the Labor Law Clinic at Cornell University Law School, said it's unusual to see such workers striking, especially when the unemployment rate is still high.
"These workers are under an enormous amount of financial strain right now," Cornell said. "Wages have been stagnant … while everything else is going up for them. It's been going on for so long now that ... they're willing to take the risk, because the situation is increasingly intolerable."
There is a lot bubbling "out there."
NOTE And do note these workers are not "middle class." That means Obama wants nothing to do with them.