First New York, then central Pennsylvania, and then Chicago. Now St. Louis is the latest American city to be hit with a strike by non-union fast food workers demanding higher wages and the right to form a union. Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, over 100 employees at approximately 30 different St. Louis-based restaurants walked off the job, demanding the right to form a union and a raise from Missouri’s $7.35 hourly minimum wage to $15 per hour. The strike was organized by an alternative workers’ group called the St. Louis Organizing Committee as part of a campaign called STL Can’t Survive on $7.35.
“Increasingly, fast food jobs are the only options for St. Louisans, but these workers can’t even afford to pay for rent, food, or carfare,” said Rev. Martin Rafanan, director of STL Can’t Survive on $7.35, in a statement. “If the workers earned more, fast food workers would spend that money at local businesses here in St. Louis and help lift our economy.”
The strike—which hit restaurants such as McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s, Wendy’s and Domino’s—was only a quarter a size of New York’s second fast food strike, still the largest walkout to occur in the industry. Still, the recent events in St. Louis indicate that labor unrest within the industry is not going away, and that the nationwide momentum shows no sign of abating.
A significant chunk of the jobs being gained during America’s economic recovery are concentrated in the service and retail sectors; in fact, the fast food industry is growing at twice the rate as the rest of the economy, according to The Nation’s Annie Shields. As a result, St. Louis is highly unlikely to be the last American city to be hit with a fast food strike.