This Delaware couple walked out of their jobs at Burger King today
Benjamin and Neka Hunter work at Burger King restaurants in Wilmington and New Castle, Delaware, respectively, and have had enough.
The Delaware-based couple say they both earn minimum wage–$7.25 per hour—and, along with the food stamp assistance they receive, is not enough to live on.
“We have a 9-year-old girl that we’re caring for and it’s hard to get her stuff that she needs,” says Neka. “We’re on food stamps right now, but they cut them because they said us, together, we’re making too much money. But they don’t realize that that money goes to bills. So we have to figure out a way to put food on the table.”
Those reasons, and others, says Neka, are why she’s began striking against her employer last night, and why Hunter walked out today. They’re part of a nationwide protest being held against the fast food industry, a $200 billion industry in which the average worker is in her mid-20s and earns a median rate of just $8.59 per hour. According to earlier reports of the happening, today’s walk-out is expected to be the largest of its kind in history.
Benjamin and Neka got involved, they say, after an organizer stopped by their workplaces to talk about the national strike for higher wages and the right to form a union.
Having also heard about the strike via Facebook, and because of his current situation, Hunter said he was willing to listen.
“They’re paying us nothing, basically. $7.25 is nothing to live on, not when you have rent to pay, and your rent is $600-$700, and that’s for a one bedroom. And in our case we’re married and we have a child. After you get paid and pay your bills, there’s no money, we don’t have anything,” he says.
Strikes and organizers are attempting to push for a raise to $15 per hour—more than double what they currently earn. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator cited by Americans for Democratic Action, who are organizing the protest, a couple with one child living in New Castle, Delaware, should earn $21.84 per hour to keep up with the local “living wage.”
President Obama called for a $10 minimum wage during his last State of the Union address, though it largely fell on deaf ears.
Protests, we’re told, were not organized in Philadelphia, in part because low-wage organized fights have mostly been based at Philadelphia International Airport. Among those supporting the action are local community organizing group Fight For Philly, a communications person of which notes fast food strikes may come to Philadelphia, as well, in the coming months.
If the $15 goal isn’t attained, says Hunter, he’s not sure what lower number he’d settle for—but their current salaries are way too low. “Give us something we can live on,” he says.
UPDATE: We’re told there will be a “solidarity action” today in support of the strikers at Broad and Cecil B. Moore in North Philly. It begins at 4:30pm.
Randy worked at Wawa when he was in college. True story. Follow him on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso