Wednesday, May 12, 2010

unions for fast food restaurants employees

What is union? A union is an organization for workers. Unions protect people from unfairness and conflicts that employees may face in working environment, and unions make sure that employees are safe and secure in the working environment. For instance, if a worker was fired without any good reason, then the union will step in to negotiate with the employer because in order to fire a worker, a worker must do something wrong that is against the company policy. However, many industries, like fast food restaurants, do not like to have unions even though the workers will pay for the unions every pay day. The pay depends on each individual union. Fast food chains think that having unions will give the workers too much power and motivation. In my perspective, unions in fast food restaurants are one crucial element that employees should have because they are being underpaid and injured in the work place.

In the United States, fast food restaurant is one of the fastest growing industries, that keep the American economy rolling. However, behind the counter is the most hectic, frustrating working environment you can ever experience because of it’s incoordinations, for minimum wage. For example, I myself worked at three different fast food restaurants: McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Between these 3 restaurants, there are no contrasts. For instance, the stores were always unclean, which made employees work more, and it is difficult to deal with the duties because employees scarcely ever cleaned the kitchen during the business hours. The managers were always unsure of their doings, and their poor communication skills often lead to disputes and conflicts with employees and customers, and their schedules were always scattered, which resulted employees shortness. The most difficult part of working at the registers was dealing with the rude customers. In this matter, I should not fault the customers; I should assail the managers’ lack of organization, which leads to consumers’ madness due to food lateness. Every day, employees would hustle to serve the consumers within one minute, which is the policy of the restaurants. If the workers go over one minute, the manager will more likely to go nuts. And then, there is another freneticism which takes place inside the kitchen. The sandwich makers have less than a minute to finish one order, a order that could have more than two or more orders; in three different boards, each worker makes 3 different types of sandwiches, or three different varieties of foods. The individual workers has to complete the work solitarily. Oftentimes, if there are no helpers during rush hours, the restaurants’ atmosphere will be filled with noises and shouts from both sides of consumers and employees. Sometimes, there were confrontations among the staffs, as well.

first, in fast food restaurants employees are being victimized to work for free by not being paid for overtime, or not being paid at all by managers to save labor. In a report Steve Miletich says, “ In a verdict that could cost Taco Bell millions of dollars, a King County Superior Court jury yesterday that the California-based fast-food chain deliberately cheated its hourly workers in Washington state forcing them to work off the clock and forgo overtime pay” (1). This supports the fact that because this underpay dose not happens in only McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, this also happens in other fast food restaurants. For example, This same scenario happened to myself as well. Only it it did not go to the court. When I worked at Burger King and Wendy’s, the managers cut my hours many times because either I made my 40 hours, or I exceeded 40 hours, which is over time. The chains were supposed to pay for time and a half because it is overtime. For instance, there were many times managers asked me to stay for next shift because oftentimes employees would call out sick, so I would stay, just to make extra earnings. As the pay day, which was Friday, would arrive, I would look into my check, and see no overtime pay, nor overtime hours. However, I never made any complaints because I never wanted to cause any sort of disputes, which I thought could lead me to distrust. This also happened to many of my colleagues. If we had a union they would not have cut our hours, or even steal our working hours.

Second, every year, employees working at fast food chains are injured when handling restaurant equipment. The common types of injuries are slipping and falling, chemical burning, and getting cuts; the worst injuries are oil and fire burns. In a report that was conducted, Sonny Inbaraj wrote, “ Joe, a 16-year-old students, is employed as a kitchen hand at a fast-food outlet here on a casual part-time basis. On one occasion he was injured by fire, but his boss told him it was his own fault and ordered him to keep working to serve the customers” (1). This shows that it is difficult to avoid injuries when you are surrounded by technical machines, especially when operating them throughout the shift because first you are dropping food and taking food in and out of oil, and, second you are cleaning more than one machine at the same time. For instance, when I worked at Burger King I was burned almost all the time when cleaning, and dropping foods. Those fry machines are no joke, and they are not to be played with because one small mistake can lead to a very dangerous scene if not properly handled carefully. For example, one busy summer day, I was told to clean all the fry machines quickly due to employee shortness. At that time, it was my second working week, with short knowledge about the restaurant’s equipment, but I was confident to complete the job. However, that assuredness did so little to help me avoid the flame that burst from the machine because I had forgotten to lock a cover where the oil comes out. Luckily, I was not burned due to my distance way from the fryer, not scabbing or cleaning. What if there weren’t any luck, then I would have been hospitalized with more than thousands of dollars of hospital bills sitting in my house. This is why a union is very important to have. They will help you to pay medical bills. And unions ensures safe conditions.

In conclusion, having unions in fast food restaurants for employees not only can make a differences, but can also save those workers from getting hours cut, and from getting injured. And not only that unions will make sure you are safe and secure in your workplace, unions will make sure that your voice is heard.


Inbaraj Sunny. “ Labor-Australia: fast-Food Workers Seek Union.” IPS-Inter Press Service. June 16,2004, Wednesday.

Miletich Steve. “ Taco Bell Is Found Guilty Of Worker Abuses.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 9, 1997, Wednesday, Final.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. I found you by by google searching fast food restaurants and unions. I have worked in various fast food restaurants for the past five years and have experienced the same things that you have, particularly in regard to conflicts and labor violations--with working off the clock being the most common. I strongly agree with you about the need for unions. Some of us have joined together to facilitate information sharing and to try out best to bring about changes. There is a website: If you get a change, please check it out and let us know what you think. We are thinking about expanding the operation to include all fast food workers and not just employees of Yum! (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silvers, A&W).