Eddie Foreman
After struggling for months over low wages at the McDonald's where they work in Alabama, Eddie Foreman and his co-workers decided to take action. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Foreman.)

VOICES: Why this fast-food worker is going on strike

By Eddie Foreman

My name's Eddie Foreman. I'm 40 years old, and I was born in Lee County, Alabama. I've been living in Opelika, Alabama since I was a child.

I'm one of eight siblings and I got my first job when I was about 14, handing out flyers for a local business. I've held different jobs ever since, doing everything I could to try and survive and make a living. When I was 18 I got a job with the local paper mill. Because of the union, the pay was decent. I didn't understand what a union was at the time, but I realized much later what a huge difference it made. By the time I was 21, my mother and younger siblings were evicted from our family home. As the only breadwinner, I worked to try and support my family and keep a roof over our heads.

I've watched friends and family work in fast food their entire lives, struggling and not making any money, so I avoided trying to get a job in fast food for years. But after years of odd jobs and being unable to find other work, especially with physical limitations due to an injured hand, I finally got my first fast-food job at McDonald's. I've been at McDonald's now for almost a year, and I still get paid the bare minimum of $7.25 an hour.  It is nearly impossible to support my family on that wage, especially when hours are never guaranteed and can change every week.

After struggling for months about McDonald's, my coworkers and I decided to take action. I heard about the fast-food campaign, workers organizing all over the country for a union and better wages, and I got in touch with them. I have been organizing with other fast-food workers in Opelika ever since.

I've decided to join workers all over the world who are going on strike on May 15 to demand a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. I'm going on strike because I'm tired of going into work every day and feeling disrespected. These fast-food corporations treat us like children. If we had $15 an hour and a union, workers could feel empowered at work, have enough money to support their families and local businesses, and maybe even have some benefits.

I believe that everyone who works should be paid for the work they do. Workers in fast food hardly get enough hours to make a living, let alone decent wages and health insurance. I believe it's wrong that companies making billions of dollars each year would force their workers to live in poverty. That's why I'm going on strike, and that's why I will continue to be a part of this movement until we win a change.

Image: 
After struggling for months over low wages at the McDonald's where they work in Alabama, Eddie Foreman and his co-workers decided to take action. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Foreman.)
Appreciate this post? Please donate & share below.
Reddit »

Categories:

People Referenced:

Comments

Fast food worker

If your demands are valid and genuine, strikes play a good role for achieving your rights. If a man works in food department and is still stay with hunger, I think, that pitiable condition and invites the attention of authorities to rethink about their policies.

The water-carriers for the 1% are never happy

When they see you without a job, they look down on you for surviving with help from the shredded social safety net.

When they see you holding a low-paying job and barely making ends meet, they look down on you for not having enough education.

When they see you as an educated employee, they lay you off and ship your job overseas because you're making too much money.

McDonald's has raised its prices several times while the current minimum wage has languished, but the company doesn't want you to know that. And, sure, items on its menu will likely increase if the minimum wage is raised, which will be the convenient excuse touted by the company's PR department, but it's not like Big Macs will suddenly be unaffordable. (A Big Mac costs 56 cents more in Denmark, where restaurant employees there make $21/hour.) What's unaffordable is the cost of living for restaurant employees who are working their butts off and have no other good employment options where they live — and many are not in the position to just pick up and move to where better jobs are. Raising the wage could help them do so, or go to school, where they will hopefully graduate without the debt sentence.

When lower-paid employees' wages go up, that money is going to be pumped back into local economies. It's good for Main Street businesses and tax revenues. And when people on the lower end of the economic scale have more money to spend, more jobs will be created to meet their various demands. Customers with money, not corporations, are the ultimate job creators.

Go, Eddie!

Let's stop the pity.

Striking is a fine thing when you're a skilled worker. McDonald's does not employ skilled workers at their counters or drive-through windows, and certainly not among the back end the restaurant where English-speaking is not needed. These workers would be better served by returning to school and improving their education and improving their wage-earning. Too old? No excuse. I'm in my 50s and have returned to pursue a 4 year degree. Got children? No excuse. Several of my classmates do to, and they all work full or part time. I'm not anti-Union; I'm pro-education. Don't want a 4-year degree? There is plenty of options at your local community college, and Uncle Sam will be more than happy to help you with financial aide. It time low-wage earners in this country start looking at the opportunities available to them instead of constantly crying victims. The best way out of poverty is self-empowerment, not forming a pity-party club.

Another ignorant comment by

Another ignorant comment by the uneducated illiterati. Unions aren't exclusively for skilled labor. Learn your history! Coal mining has one of the most unskilled labor forces in the world,and their sacrifices and deaths lead to the most successful unionization movements of the 20th century!

I congratulate you on going

I congratulate you on going back to school.sometimes we speak and don't have tbe rite information.But since we're in jim-crow south I expected ignorance....the workers who work in fast-food are all skilled laborers,there are colleges that some workers are allowed to attend.i wanted the coward who wrote this to understand this....for fast-food workers to win 15 and a union is not a victory for a handful of people but for society as a whole.We are tryn to raise minimum wage that people regardless of profession may make a decent wage to support their families...
Listen to how ignorance has no respect of person...fast-food workers pay taxes and taxes pay grants.o MacDonald will you an scholarship and can't pay its workers.WORKERS UNITED SIDE BY SIDE LIES AND TRICKS WILL NOT DEVIDE....WE WILL WAKE UP A SLEEPING GIANT

Last Friday, I picked up my

Last Friday, I picked up my supper at a fast food establishment. The employee at the drive-thru had to move her position somewhat and winced in pain. She had her arm in a soft cast and I thought that was the problem. She commented to a co-worker that she should be home & not at work. I inquired about her injury & she told me she had fractured her tail bone. I looked at her & asked why she wasn't home. She told me she HAD to come in...her boss made her. I thought she was speaking of the corporate owners and she told me 'No. It was the owner of THIS particular establishment.' She went on to tell me that she had slipped on the floor in THIS restaurant, sprained her wrist and fractured her tail bone. Being the wife of a life long union worker, I told her it was a real shame that they couldn't form unions. I know this isn't an isolated case but damn...doesn't anyone care about how others are being treated? Just wanted to let my feelings be known, I suppose. Good luck!!!!!

Post new comment

You may enter comments here to publicly respond to this article. If you are having trouble posting your comment, please contact help@southernstudies.org.
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.