Images by Chris Faraone
This afternoon’s fast food worker strike at the Burger King across from Park Street was kind of like the slogan on those juvenile old Co-Ed Naked Tennis t-shirts: They were in, they were out, it was over.
Short as their lunchtime rally was, workers with the Fight for $15 campaign made one hell of a scene, even incorporating a tuba and drums in their protest. Well over 100 supporters from the SEIU, groups including MassUniting, and the general public filled the restaurant, from the window to the counter, as low wage employees spoke out.
“We work too hard, and are paid too little.” Another chimed in: “Ten dollars is not enough. We need $15 an hour.” As service workers from a range of low wage jobs took turns telling stories, the crowd pushed for two remaining Burger King cashiers to come out from behind the counter. After some nudging, and with allies chanting “WE GOT YOUR BACK,” the few brave stragglers left the register and crossed the picket line to join the crowd, which by that time spilled onto the sidewalk and around the corner.
Though just one of many rallies nationwide, today’s walk-out — billed by national organizers as the “biggest-ever strike to hit [the fast food] industry” — stood out for a few reasons. For one, there haven’t been that many underpaid folks in a Burger King since they took two-for–a-dollar tacos off the menu. Secondly, in Boston and any number of other cities where heads walked out of work today, the pickets were a sort of starting point for the mass action planned across the street on Boston Common this evening.
After more than 15 minutes in the store, a small group of police officers entered and walked up to the front. Activists and striking workers put their hands up and began hollering, “DON’T SHOOT,” but then walked out shortly after, taking their signs to the State House. Those in the vicinity of Park Street heard their message loud and clear: “I BELIEVE THAT WE CAN WIN …
“WE’LL BE BACK.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.