The U.S. campaign for a $15 hourly wage for fast-food workers is going global. A New York-based group called Fast Food Forward said today that fast food workers on six continents will join a one-day strike against McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW), and KFC, the restaurant chain owned by Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM).
The strike is set for May 15th and organizers say that “thousands” of the U.S.’s estimated 4 million fast food workers will participate in the one-day job action. USA Today reported that the global strike was organized by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations, a federation comprised of 396 trade unions in 126 countries representing 12 million workers.
The issue of low wages for fast-food workers is one that continues to dog companies and franchise owners who argue that raising worker pay to $15 an hour is not sustainable. Workers have a hard time accepting that argument in light of data such as that in a recent study from public policy group Demos showing that in 2013 the U.S. CEO-to-worker compensation ratio in the fast food industry was more than 1,000-to-1.
Many states are raising minimum wage rates in their states, but an effort by President Obama to raise minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over a period of 30 months was not able to pass out of the U.S. Senate and likely won’t be reconsidered until after the November elections.
Because most fast food restaurants are franchised, an increase in wages hits franchise owners harder than it does the corporations that own the franchising rights. Franchisees of McDonald’s, for example, complained last year that the company is shifting costs to them in order to keep its own profits up. If that is indeed the case, fast food workers at the franchised stores are unlikely to succeed in getting a wage increase that cuts further into franchisee profits.