Fast Food Strikes, NYC, July 2013
The strike capped an active year of organizing by employees at McDonald’s, WalMart, and other low-wage chains. At a time when traditional unions are on the decline, scrappy organizing campaigns among low-wage workers, sometimes called “alt-labor,” are capturing the national spotlight. While their prospects of winning union recognition through the cumbersome election process prescribed by federal law are slim, the workers have nevertheless demanded improvements in working conditions and are eager to use legal collective action to draw public attention to their concerns.
Much of the coverage of these struggles has been fragmentary, suggesting that the campaigns themselves are disjointed and local. But considered together, the efforts of fast-food workers, carwashers, retail employees, and domestic workers, among others, represent an experimental and creative wave of organizing that has reanimated the labor movement across a wide range of brands and industries.