A few weeks ago, Walmart workers, including OUR Walmart members, held strikes, protests, and other actions in the days leading up to and on Black Friday. The actions brought to light the longstanding efforts of these workers to stop Walmart from retaliating against them when they spoke up about, among other things, the lack of full time shifts, disrespect on the job, and a continuous cycle of low-wages that keep many Walmart associates in poverty.
In doing so, Walmart workers brought the issue of low-wage jobs into the national media spotlight, and now, perhaps building off the momentum of those Walmart workers’ actions, workers in other industries are speaking out for better, “living wage” jobs. Last week, fast food workers in New York made history by striking as well, and continued to grab headlines.
From fast food to Walmart to home health care, workers have the same needs: Living wages, guaranteed hours, and stable schedules.
UFCW members know the importance of good jobs, and what a good job entails. Member of Local 348-S came out to show their support to the cause last Thursday in Times Square, where thousands of union members rallied with other workers and supporters, to call for change in what has become a “low-wage economy.”
Una Brown and Thelma Johnson-Bailey work at Americare, one of city’s largest home health care agencies, where thousands of Local 348-S members are currently bargaining for a new contract. They were joined by car wash workers, supermarket workers, retail workers, airport workers, and many fast food workers at the Times Square rally. The action followed one-day strikes all across New York last week by 200 workers at Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s and Taco Bell, demanding better pay and working conditions. At Thursday’s rally workers chanted “Can’t survive on $7.25!”
Labor leaders from around New York pointed out that too many workers throughout the city are making near or below minimum wage and have to rely on public assistance to get by, while CEOs are making record incomes and pushing elected officials to cut spending on social programs and extend tax cuts for the rich.
Just like many other workers who spoke at Thursday’s rally, Brown said Americare workers are struggling to achieve a stable weekly schedule with guaranteed hours. Speaking out in front of thousands of fellow labor activists under the glowing neon signs of Times Square was an overwhelming experience, she said.
“I was so happy to be with all of them,” Brown said. “I didn’t know they were paid so badly. We all need to take a big step forward.”
Brown and Johnson-Bailey are part of the negotiating committee that is working to create change at Americare, ensure that home health aides deliver quality patient care, and win the respect they deserve.
“Everybody needs to hear what we have to say,” Brown said, because “we’re all fighting for the same thing.