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Delaware fast-food workers say NLRB ruling gives them hope

Wilmington, DE — Delaware fast-food workers and their supporters today said this week’s ruling by the National Labor Relations Board could mark a turning point in their fight for a fair wage and the right to unionize.

“It means that fast food companies –in this case McDonald’s– are also responsible for how the front line workers are treated,” said José Blas, who works at the KFC/Taco Bell on Newport Pike. “We work very hard and deserve to be treated with respect and paid a wage that we can live on. I have a 7-month old baby boy to take care of, and it’s hard making ends meet getting paid so little.”

McDonald’s worker Sara Jimenez said, “The NLRB ruling states that McDonald’s has a responsibility for what happens to its workers. And it’s time for them to pay us a wage that we can live on.

“I have been working in fast food for 10 years. I have 4 children that I support. It’s difficult to provide for my kids with the low wage McDonald’s pays me. I work hard, and I’m standing here today because I believe that the minimum wage needs to be raised,” Jimenez said.

The workers were joined by Chris Bullock, president of the New Castle County Council which earlier this year passed a resolution in support of the workers’ fight.

“For years, McDonald’s –which controls many details of its franchisees’ operations from the preparation of the food to the look of employees uniforms– claimed it had no control over employees’ compensation,” Bullock said. “It’s not true, and now the entire nation knows it. A corporation that controls how clean the floors in its restaurants have to be can certainly make sure the employees cleaning them don’t live in poverty.”

He added, “Companies that supply McDonald’s must abide by a code of conduct that includes treating employees with fairness, dignity and respect. Would its own restaurants meet the standard required of suppliers?”

State Rep. John Kowalko called the ruling “an important step in the right direction to treating American workers fairly.” Kowalko was one of the sponsors of state legislation establishing a low-wage worker task force to study the effects of poverty wages and make recommendations.

“It is un-American, immoral and illegal to deny working people the right to ask for a fair wage for their hard work and to organize with their fellow workers so that their unified voices will be heard and listened to,” Kowalko said. “This ruling enables the NLRB to move forward with a determination that could expose the abuse of workers’ rights by wealthy corporations that is occurring under the guise of the franchise independence.”