Fast food workers are some of the most disenfranchised and abused workers in the economy. Low wages, irregular hours and schedules, unsafe conditions, lack of bargaining power and representation make fast food work insecure, dangerous, and soul-destroying.
For poor and of color communities in Oakland, however, low paid, precarious fast food work is the only work available. This perpetuates communities trapped in endless cycles of working poverty and long periods of joblessness — leaving communities that make too much to qualify for social welfare programs, but too little to support themselves or a family. Often the only alternative to fast food work is the underground economy. Despite the best intentions of most people involved in such economies, however, violence by a few has reached a critical level in many communities where the underground economy is a logical alternative to low paying, insecure work. Helping to establish fast food workers’ unions that ensure living wages, benefits such as health care and sick leave, and fair, secure employment, will undercut the need for such economies.
We therefore call upon Occupy Oakland to help fast food workers and their communities create fast food unions in Oakland, through the establishment of a committee dedicated to this purpose. The committee will help organize and empower workers to organize themselves, and will provide support in the form of solidarity and support actions, counsel, outreach to communities and other workers and the many other activities at which Occupy Oakland excels — including bringing the full strength of Occupy Oakland to the defense of fast food workers if they are fired or experience other forms of retaliation.