Nationally, some fast-food workers in dozens of U.S. cities walked off the job today, August 29, 2013 in their largest round of protests yet, saying they cannot get by on what they earn and must have higher wages, according to the Associated Press (AP) news article, “Fast-food strikes set for cities nationwide.” See the August 29, 2013 Sacramento Bee article, “Fast-food workers stage largest protests yet.” Some fast-food works in other cities began their strike on Monday.
Thousands of low-wage workers walked off their jobs at fast food establishments in seven U.S. cities. Workers at KFC, Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonald’s and other restaurants are calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
Workers want $15 an hour or more
What fast-food workers want is at least a minimum wage of $15 an hour for the hard work they do, on their feet all day preparing food over a hot grill and/or serving food to a constant stream of people who sit down to eat and cars who stream in for fast-food, sometimes nearly non-stop. It’s back-breaking work for the minimum wages they get.
Try supporting a family of four on the average $18,000 a year many fast-food workers earn, even after many years on the job. And some fast-food workers have college degrees, but couldn’t land jobs in their majors, so they took what they could find and are working for years at the same jobs.
Workers are calling for the right to unionize without interference from employers and for pay of $15 an hour. That’s more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year for full-time employees
The strike started in New York City and spread across the country. Hundreds kicked off the demonstrations in New York City Monday with workers starting a 24-hour strike demanding a base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Over the next four days, similar strikes will occur in St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee, as well as Flint, Mich. and Kansas City, Mo. By Thursday, many Sacramento fast-food workers walked off the job. However, numerous fast-food eateries in Sacramento are operating today. See the MSNBC video, “Fast food workers strike: ‘I can’t afford my shoes or rent’.”
Close to 60 cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit have many of their fast-food employees walking out on strike, organizers told media sources. On the other hand, some targeted restaurants are still operating relatively normally and others are temporarily shutting down because they had too few employees. In Sacramento, you can view a video on the local strike of fast-food employees.
See, “Keith Springer Talks the Fast Food Strike KTXL – Sacramento.” And check out, “The epic fast food worker strike has begun – OccupySacramento.” or Check out the news article, “We Are Slowly Dying”: Fast Food Workers Launch Strike For Living.” Check out the article, “Recent Strikes in Retail and Fast Food – SacramentoGigs.com.”
Americans link to proximity of fast food restaurants
If you check out the May 16, 2013 news release, “Body mass index of low income African-Americans linked to proximity of fast food restaurants,” a 2013 study from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center shows how body mass index of low income African-Americans may be linked to proximity of fast food restaurants. The latest study shows potential impact of neighborhood environment on residents’ body fat.
African-American adults living closer to a fast food restaurant had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who lived further away from fast food, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and this association was particularly strong among those with a lower income.
A new study recently published online in the American Journal of Public Health indicates higher BMI associates with residential proximity to a fast food restaurant, and among lower-income African-Americans, the density, or number, of fast food restaurants within two miles of the home.
The study was led by Lorraine Reitzel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson. Data was collected from a large sample of more than 1,400 black adult participants from the Project CHURCH research study, a collaboration between MD Anderson and Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston – one of the largest Methodist churches in the United States.
“According to prior research, African-Americans, particularly women, have higher rates of obesity than other ethnic groups, and the gap is growing,” explains Reitzel in the news release, Body mass index of low income African-Americans linked to proximity of fast food restaurants. “The results of this study add to the literature indicating that a person’s neighborhood environment and the foods that they’re exposed to can contribute to a higher BMI.”
Reitzel said that this is an important population group for researchers to examine because of the health consequences that are associated with obesity among African-Americans including diabetes, cancer and heart disease. “We need to find the relationships and triggers that relate to this population’s BMI, as they’re at the greatest risk for becoming obese and developing associated health problems,” says Reitzel in the news release. “Such information can help inform policies and interventions to prevent health disparities.”
Study’s participants were divided into two income groups
In this study, Reitzel and her team examined two different food environment variables and their associations with BMI: proximity and density of fast food restaurants, which were based on each participant’s geocoded residential address. The study participants were also broken into two income groups; those making less than $40,000 a year and those making $40,000 or more a year.
“We found no previous research literature that considered household income when investigating whether there were associations between fast food availability and BMI,” says Reitzel in the news release. The study controlled for factors that may influence a person’s BMI including gender, age, physical activity, individual household income, median neighborhood income, education, partner status, employment status and residential tenure. Sedentary behaviors, including the amount of time the participant spent watching television, were considered. Researchers also controlled for the presence of children in the home because of its known relation with physical activity rates.
Researchers examined the density of fast food restaurants within a half mile, one mile, two miles and five miles around each participant’s home
On average there were 2.5 fast food restaurants within a half mile, 4.5 within a mile, 11.4 within 2 miles and 71.3 within 5 miles of participants’ homes. “We found a significant relationship between the number of fast food restaurants and BMI for within a half-mile, one-mile and two-miles of the home, but only among lower-income study participants,” says Reitzel in the news release. The data showed the greater the density, the higher the BMI. There was no significant association for the five-mile area.
When examining proximity – the distance in miles from each participant’s home to the closest restaurant – the study found that closer proximity was associated with a higher BMI. In fact, although results indicate that the relationship between a higher BMI and proximity was stronger for those of lower income, it was still significant in the group with the higher incomes. The data also showed that every additional mile participants’ lived from the closest fast food restaurant was associated with a 2.4 percent lower BMI.
“There’s something about living close to a fast food restaurant that’s associated with a higher BMI,” explains Reitzel in the news release. She said that there may be some behavioral economics involved in the decision to choose fast food over a healthier choice. “Fast food is specifically designed to be affordable, appealing and convenient. People are pressed for time, and they behave in such a way that will cost them the least amount of time to get things done, and this may extend to their food choices.”
Reitzel also says that people of lower income may have less access to transportation, so having a high density of fast food restaurants around the home makes eating fast food easier. “This may also be why there were significant associations for density and BMI within 2 miles of the home, which is an easily walkable distance, but not 5 miles of the home.”
Reitzel explains in the news release that in some neighborhoods, there are fewer roads to travel and people pass by the same fast food restaurants on the way in and out of the neighborhood every day. “Those visual cues may prompt people to choose fast food even when it was not the original intent.”
Co-authors with Reitzel are Ellen K. Cromley, Ph.D., of The University of Connecticut School of Medicine; Larkin L. Strong, Ph.D., David W. Wetter, Ph.D., Lorna H. McNeill, Ph.D. and Seann D. Regan, all of MD Anderson’s Department of Health Disparities Research; and Nga Nguyen of MD Anderson’s Department of Biostatistics.
This research was funded by the University Cancer Foundation; the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment through the Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research; Regina Rogers; the Cullen Trust for Health Care Chair in the Department of Health Disparities Research; Morgan Foundation; The University of Texas MD Anderson’s Cancer Center start-up funds (to L. R. Reitzel); and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health through MD Anderson’s Cancer Center Support Grant (CA016672).