Fast Food a Little Slower Today as Worker Walkouts Expected

KFC Restaurant
Source: courtesy of KFC
The country’s largest fast-food chains are expected to see walkouts in seven cities today as workers protest the industry’s low wages at some the nation’s most profitable companies. Walkouts are expected at Yum! Brands Inc.’s (NYSE: YUM) KFC stores, and at stores owned by Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN), McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: BKW).

Workers are expected to walk out in Detroit, New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Flint, Mich. According to a report in the Washington Post, employees at Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) and L Brands Inc.’s (NYSE: LTD) Victoria’s Secret stores also are expected to join the walkouts.

Similar wage protests were held last fall at some Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) locations, although the Walmart protests were aimed at personnel policies as well as wages. Earlier this month, Walmart threatened to cancel plans to build three new stores in the Washington, D.C., area after the city passed a bill requiring large retailers to pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour (about $26,000 a year).

At issue in the fast-food walkouts are low wages, with protesters seeking a living wage of $15 an hour. The U.S. economy has added low-wage jobs fairly rapidly since the Great Recession ended, but middle-class jobs that do not require a college degree have not recovered, forcing people to seek lower paying jobs in food service, retail and health care.