Tampa McDonald’s workers stage walkout to demand fair pay, better job benefits

Cooks and cashiers in Tampa joined McDonald’s workers in Orlando and Miami today as part of a statewide day of action.

click to enlarge Gail Rogers (center) has worked at a McDonald’s in Tampa for nine years, and in fast food for over 40 of them. - PHOTO C/O GAIL RODGERS
Photo c/o Gail Rodgers
Gail Rogers (center) has worked at a McDonald’s in Tampa for nine years, and in fast food for over 40 of them.
McDonald’s workers in Tampa walked out on strike today, as part of a national movement to demand a living wage, job benefits, protections from harassment and abuse in the workplace, and the right to form a union.

Cooks and cashiers in Tampa joined McDonald’s workers in Orlando and Miami today as part of a statewide day of action to uplift workers’ rights, on the heels of similar actions that took place in Chicago and Sacramento last week.

“From Wendy’s workers in North Carolina to Jack in the Box workers in Sacramento, fast-food workers are speaking up and demanding a voice on the job and the right to form a union without interference,” a news release from Fight for $15 and a Union reads. “McDonald’s workers in Florida are the latest in a nationwide wave of fast-food workers taking action against union-busting, poverty wages and other industry-wide issues.”

Gail Rogers has worked at a McDonald’s in Tampa for nine years, and in fast food for over 40 of them. For years, she’s organized with the Fight for $15 campaign, advocating for a federal $15 minimum wage, safe working conditions, and union rights for herself and all workers.

Today, she joined cashiers and cooks at the McDonald’s in Ybor City at 2101 E 13th Ave, where she works. Together, they staged a walkout and rally calling on the fast food giant to do better by their frontline workers.

“We work very hard at our job and we bring in profit for them [McDonald’s], but they're not giving us what we need,” Rogers told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay after the rally.

With average rent prices in Tampa up 37% since last year, Rogers said McDonald’s current wage floor, anywhere from $10-$13 for crew, to start, isn’t enough to pay for basic needs, like housing, food, gas, and healthcare. “We’re asking for more money. We’re asking for $15 right away. We can’t keep taking, you know, a little bit [more] at a time.”
Thanks to a state ballot initiative passed by over six million voters in 2020, Florida’s currently on track to reach a $15 minimum wage by 2026. Today, the state minimum wage is $10 an hour. A company wage tracker from the Economic Policy Institute shows that many of the most profitable service and retail companies in the U.S.—ncluding McDonald’s—pay less than $15 an hour, despite the fact that even $15 an hour isn’t really enough to really afford basic living costs anywhere in the U.S., let alone Tampa Bay.

Rogers, the Tampa McDonald’s worker, told CL she not only wants herself and her coworkers to earn a living wage, but also wants McDonald’s to offer healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, and the ability to unionize. Before working at McDonald’s, Rogers previously made $17 an hour in a union job at the courthouse. She knows personally what having a union contract can do for workers. With the union, Rogers said, “We have a voice. We have someone to speak for us.”

About The Author

McKenna Schueler

McKenna Schueler is a freelance journalist based in Tampa, Florida. She regularly writes about labor, politics, policing, and behavioral health. You can find her on Twitter at @SheCarriesOn and send news tips to [email protected].

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