BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The Bushwick community here came out in force to support Gregory Reynoso, a worker at Domino's Pizza who has been fired in retaliation for organizing his fellow workers to secure a $15-an-hour wage and to have union representation. The demonstration of support was organized by the Fast Food Organizing committee.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 113,000 New Yorkers were paid minimum wage in 2012. The campaign for $15 an hour or $12 with benefits has been going on for several months now.
These low wage ($7.25 hr.) workers are fighting for a living wage, so they can raise a family or pay tuition. A quick calculation is quite telling: even at $12 an hour, a forty hour week grosses $480, that's $24,960 a year.
Truvon Shim, a neighborhood resident backing Reynoso, said, "I'm here because Domino's illegally fired one of their workers. I'm here to help him get his job back. We are getting people to sign petitions because as you know the workers in the neighborhood is what makes the business go round.
"We want to let Domino's know that it is unfair to do this to your workers, especially when they are killing themselves to make you richer. The community is buying it; the workers are working; you're just sitting back and getting rich. They're just trying to do something better for themselves. Just support the cause."
A living wage in New York City for a single person, according to the Living Wage Calculator, doesn't constitute a living wage for any type of New Yorker. A single parent with one child, working full time would need to make $23.58 an hour to get by.
A Study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the minimum wage should have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 if it had kept up with what a dollar could purchase back in the 1960's.
Reverend Cheri Kroon, Associate Minister of the Flatbush Reformed Church, said, "I'm really concerned about my neighborhood. What I see in my neighborhood and all over New York City is that many of the people who live in my neighborhood work in fast food restaurants and the majority of them are not making a living. For me the real tipping point in this campaign, came when I was talking to a fast food worker at a rally and he told me how often his check bounces. And if you go to check cashing places in the city, especially in the poorest neighborhoods, the check cashing places actually have a list on the wall that says, 'We do not take take checks,' and they will list the fast food restaurants that they won't take checks from. So here are people who have worked an honest week's work, right, in a difficult job for very little money and now they can't even cash their check. For me, that was really my tipping point."
The Communications Workers of America and several New York City Council members joined the demonstration. Four workers who were fired from Cablevision in January also joined in support.
During a "mic check," the Reverend Cheri Kroon paraphrased the profit Jeremiah "Administer justice every morning, not every other day, not when we feel like it, but every day."
Photo: Fight for 15 Facebook page