To protest 12 years without even a penny increase in the $7.25 federal minimum wage, Houston fast-food workers will strike and protest on July 20 to demand Congress and restaurant companies like McDonald’s raise minimum pay to at least $15/hr.

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since July 24, 2009. Even as cities, states and some corporations across the country have raised wages to $15/hr, Black and brown workers in Houston have been left behind because of preemption laws that block local governments from boosting pay, as well as the U.S. Senate’s failure to act on $15. 

Now, companies like McDonald’s are sounding the alarm about a nationwide shortage of individuals willing to work in fast food amid the lingering pandemic and longstanding issues in the industry, from wage theft to sexual harassment to violence on the job.

WHO: Fast-food cooks and cashiers on strike

WHAT: Rally demanding $15/hr minimum wage for all workers

WHEN: Tuesday, July 20 at noon

WHERE: 2503 Almeda Genoa Rd. Houston, TX 77047

A $15/hr minimum wage is one of the most powerful tools available for combating racial wealth and income inequality. Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr would boost the incomes of 32 million workers, including 59 percent of working families with incomes under the poverty line. Nearly one third of Black workers would receive a raise, and one out of four workers who would benefit is a Black or Latina woman. According to researchers with UC Berkeley, raising the minimum wage in the 1960s directly led to a 20 percent drop in income inequality for Black Americans.

In addition to Houston, fast-food workers will go on strike in Asheville, N.C., Charlotte, Charleston, S.C., Detroit, Durham, Flint, Milwaukee and St. Louis, with additional protest actions taking place across the country, including in New York, D.C., Chicago and Nashua, N.H.

‘No One Wants to Work’

Fast-food workers will also call on McDonald’s, one of the largest and most powerful employers in the world, to immediately raise starting pay to at least $15/hr. The burger giant recently announced that it netted nearly $5 billion in profits in 2020 and paid out nearly $4 billion in dividends to its shareholders.

Yet in one viral TikTok, a McDonald’s customer rolled up to a drive-thru lane only to find a sign reading, “We are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.” Other McDonald’s stores are offering $1000 signing bonuses or even new iPhones to try to attract new workers while ignoring the obvious solution: pay workers $15/hr.

Already, companies including Costco, Amazon, Starbucks and Target have raised pay to $15/hr, understanding that higher wages are good for workers and good for business. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has only extended promises of minimal pay raises to workers at corporate-owned and operated stores, which make up a mere five percent of McDonald’s locations nationwide.

Workers with the Fight for $15 and a Union have been demanding a raise since long before the pandemic as part of a movement of fast-food cooks and cashiers led largely by Black and brown workers. Since 200 fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City in 2012, the movement has won tens of billions in raises for tens of millions of workers, passing $15 minimum wage laws in 10 states and putting more than 43% of the country on the path to $15. In April, President Biden signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $15/hr for federal contractors and subcontractors, putting an additional 390,000 workers on the path to $15/hr.