Houston Forward Times

04 September 2013 Written by  Jeffrey L Boney


fast food strikeI love America. I mean, I don’t love the way many Americans treat America or use the system in America to abuse other Americans.  But, the freedoms and liberties that we experience here in America are second to none. 

This brings me to the freedoms we have been afforded in the Constitution of the United States surrounding free speech and the right to assembly. The First Amendment, also known as Amendment I, to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. This amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. 

When organized labor was at its peak in the mid-fifties, about one-third of all American workers were members of a union. Today, around 11% of people are a part of a union, with around 6% of those individuals belonging to a private sector union. 

If you haven’t been paying attention, fast food workers have been on strike and are demanding a new base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union.   While, I do consider fast food jobs to be some of the lower-paying jobs in the United States, I don’t believe they should have gone on strike honestly. 

While these fast food workers have the RIGHT to strike for what they believe, I believe they are WRONG tfast food strike mcdonaldso strike and ask for an increased minimum wage of $15/hour. That is unbelievable! 

Nobody is holding a gun to these workers heads to work at those jobs. Now, if the working conditions are deplorable and life-threatening, then I understand fighting for better working conditions, but these companies are abiding by federal law. The pressure should be put on the United States Congress, not on the private sector business community. 

There is no disparity when everybody is AGREEING to apply for a job and work at that job for the federal minimum wage; passed by Congress. 

I wish somebody would try to tell me that I don’t have a right to pay my workers what we agree to and a job they applied for. The only issue I have is when there is inequitable treatment between workers in the same job (i.e. disparity in men vs. women salaries, minority workers, etc.)  Now, that is what people should be striking about. 

I keep hearing people talk about earning money that is a “living wage,” but nobody can truly tell me what a “living wage” is and who makes that determination.  I have empathy for the poor, but in my estimation, there is no such thing as the “working poor.”  How can you be poor and have a job that pays you money?   We need to figure out a way to empower people to make more money for themselves, because you can’t get rich working for someone else all the time. 

I have never had an “I have arrived” mentality. I stay on the grind, but it’s truly been a grind. The things I learned in the streets, I took to the world of Corporate America, non-profits and the business world. Everything is a grind and a hustle. Some people get more toys to play with or more money to blow, but the hustle has to be within. 

You know what’s funny to me, folks swear strike wendys workersup and down that the economy was so vibrant under President Bill Clinton, and folks, especially Black folks, believed they thrived so much more under him.  However, during his presidency from ‘92-00, the minimum wage when he began was only $4.25 and only $5.15 when he left office.  It didn’t even rise over $1 in 10 years and these people want a damn increase of more than double what they are making now?  That’s ludicrous. 

What happened to straight talk and accountability?  Hell, my grandparents (momma side) hardly made anything compared to minimum wage today and they put all kids through school and raised some productive children.  A fast food job has never been designed for the economic advancement of or to raise a family long term.  The only time that you are able to, is if you are pursuing a career in management, but you still have to have the skills to do that. 

Decades ago, no one ever encouraged their kids to go to school and get a good paying fast food job to take care of their families. It was looked at as a part-time job for younger people or a transitional opportunity for those in need. It was never looked at as a means to get into the middle class and live like the Jones’s. 

I wonder how much it’s really costing the families of those folks striking for an almost $8 per hour pay increase in the fast food industry, to be away from their jobs right now?   If they get the $15 per hour that they are asking for, then how many extra days and hours will they need to work to make up for the money they lost, while on strike?

Would you say it’s worth it? Would you go on strike? 

I say it’s not, because a) they aren’t getting paid anything while striking, b) there is no guarantee the fast food industry will agree to the increase and c) if they did agree, they would cut most full time workers to part time workers, with lower benefits. 

All I know is, regardless of the results, the strikes have drawn attention to the differences in socioeconomic inequality, which I hope gets people talking about the real issue of teaching our young people to pursue careers and learn trades that will give them what they are looking for to attain the American Dream.

I applaud them for exercising their right to strike. I strongly disagree with them for their reasoning behind it.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper.  Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance.  If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


MAA WereReady