Nation & World

Thousands of service industry workers to strike next week

Action will be focused on cities in seven states

Bloomberg

Fast-food workers and supporters organized by the Service Employees International Union protest outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.
Bloomberg Fast-food workers and supporters organized by the Service Employees International Union protest outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

As union membership in the United States has hit historic lows, thousands of service industry workers will strike next week in seven states to demand union representation.

Workers at major fast-food chains will walk off the job between Oct. 2 and Oct. 4, in tandem with strikes and rallies by airport, hospital, child-care and higher education workers, to corral public and political support for unions ahead of the November election.

The effort is being orchestrated by Fight for $15, the group that helped popularize the push for a $15 minimum wage,

“The systemic problem of being overworked and underpaid isn’t concentrated to just one job in America,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which is backing the strikes.

“People are losing patience when they see that the economy is booming but their lives aren’t getting better.”

Centered in cites in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, California and Connecticut, the strikes come at a pivotal moment in public attitudes toward unions.

Last year 10.7 percent of American workers were union members, the lowest since the 1930s, before the country had labor protection laws, according to a January Labor report.

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But the number of non-union American workers interested in joining unions is at a four-decade high, at 48 percent, according to a recent MIT survey.

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