Port Drivers, Low-Wage Workers Across Industries Protest Against McJobs


Worker protests swept the globe this week in a massive day of action among low-wage workers, including port drivers, fast food workers and many others who are struggling to get by in the new “McJobs” economy. Combined with yesterday’s actions by Teamster retirees in D.C. and 40,000 Verizon workers on strike along the Eastern seaboard, the April 14 Fight for 15 actions represented a wave of labor power that hit more than 300 cities and 40 countries.

Drivers with the Teamsters port campaign in Los Angeles contributed to the day of action by raising an issue about something so basic to most of us but often denied port drivers: adequate restrooms. Many drivers are forced to wait in long lines for hours outside and sometimes inside the terminals. Limited access to sanitary restroom facilities means some drivers are left to their own devices “when nature calls.” 

While officials tout the beautification project at the Port of Los Angeles, the dehumanizing conditions workers face are being ignored. Ahead of a major port strike next week against wage theft and misclassification, drivers delivered 2,200 petition signatures to the Harbor Commission yesterday demanding access to clean, safe restrooms.

Other low-wage workers kicked off the day’s actions with strikes and protests targeting fast food restaurants and other poverty wage employers. Home care, child care, higher education, airport, retail, manufacturing and building services workers all took part in actions that expanded the ever-growing movement for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. 

Low-wage federal contract workers with Good Jobs Nation marched in D.C. to the Department of Labor to demand an increase to the minimum wage. They also reiterated their call for a presidential executive order granting “$15 and a union” to federal contract workers.

Call center workers and technicians at T-Mobile fighting for a voice and fair treatment on the job joined together with Fight for 15 protestors while farm workers in California took action to raise awareness about the need for overtime pay.

Without a doubt, April 14 was a day of wall-to-wall mobilizations that sent a strong message to corporations like McDonald’s and others subjecting workers to poverty-level pay. And if you think it’s just about service sector workers at fast food restaurants, yesterday’s actions showed that in fact this movement extends across multiple industries, including those which once promised solid middle-class jobs. United Auto Workers members took part in #FightFor15 actions yesterday because they have seen how McJobs are spreading to the manufacturing sector where declining wages are undercutting workers’ livelihoods in industries such as auto parts supply.

Teamsters support the Fight for 15 because when corporations like McDonald’s pay low wages and avoid paying their fair share in taxes, they make working people and taxpayers foot the bill by forcing countless workers to rely on welfare. We know that big business sets the bar when it comes to wages in our economy. For years those wages have stagnated and dropped because of billionaire companies whose poverty-wage business model is infecting larger portions of the economy. By raising wages at the bottom, we’ll see upward pressure on wages in general, including among workers who make much more than the absurdly-low minimum wage.  

Teamsters understand that traditionally lower-wage jobs in the fast food industry are no longer the domain of high school kids. More than a third of minimum wage workers in American are over the age of 40, trying to support their families on low wages. And we can thank bad trade deals for the loss of middle-class jobs in America that forces more and more adults into the low-wage economy.

Most importantly, Teamsters understand solidarity. Belittling the value of “unskilled” workers is an attitude that plays right into the hands of the corporate class by keeping working people divided. 

Teamsters are proud to stand with the Fight for 15 and all workers fighting for union rights and a better life for their families.