Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Burger King”

An Open Letter to Fast Food – Tom Rossi

To whom it may concern at McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, etc.:

I am writing in support of your armies of workers. The people entrusted with the preparation of people’s food should not be treated nor paid poorly. But that’s exactly what has been going on for decades. Ever since the first McDonald’s was erected, fast food workers have been on a downward spiral.

US-ECONOMY-WAGES-PROTEST

I want to know that the preparers of my food have some sense of dignity. I want to know that they take some pride in their work and in making a good product. I want to know that they can afford health care and are not carrying some sickness into work because they can’t afford to take a day off.

When I was 16 years old, I worked at McDonald’s for a few months. It was a lot like I imagine a “sweatshop” to be. The other workers and I were constantly pushed to work harder and faster, and for a tiny paycheck. And contrary to the beliefs of some people, we did not really “choose” this. We all needed money – that’s the cold reality. And there are always more workers than jobs, out there. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, it’s not easy to get a job. That’s the only reason anyone would ever “choose” to work fast food – out of necessity.

kansas_city_fast_food_workers_strike

The giant corporations that control fast food always ask if we want to pay more for our hamburgers. I would (and do, at better establishments) pay a little more for a sense of security in the quality of my food. And I certainly wouldn’t mind if there had to be some cuts in massive corporate profits, toward the same purpose.

Fast food workers are human beings and Americans. They don’t deserve to be driven like oxen for starvation wages. And the excuse that a fast food job isn’t meant to be a career doesn’t hold water (nor Coca Cola) either. If a stepping-stone job pays so little and exhausts workers terribly, it becomes a trap. How can a person get ahead or get an education when they can barely pay their rent? Education costs money. Families cost money. Food costs money. Transportation costs money. And fast food jobs leave workers choosing what bills to pay each month – leading them deeper and deeper into debt. That’s no way to get ahead.

It all comes back to money. What I am asking of fast food corporations is that they prioritize human dignity and health over an extra dollar in profit. Here is my pledge: Until these corporations start to treat their employees like human beings, I will not patronize them. They will not persuade me with PR campaigns, telling me how happy are their employees, because I know the truth. I also know the truth about paying rent, and other expenses.

Workers-Strike-at-70-NYC-Fast-Food-Restaurants-Protestors

Having once been a fast food worker myself, I know for a fact that these are real people – not to be treated as inferiors… as if they were just not smart enough, or good enough, to have a better job. America’s greatness will continue to slip away as long as so many of us are treated like beasts of burden. Make a stand with me. Make America great again… for everyone.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Troy Davis – Revisiting the Death Penalty

Troy Davis was arrested and convicted of murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia, on August 19, 1989. Officer MacPhail was working as a Burger King security guard and intervened to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. Two weeks ago, Davis was executed for his crime.

Mark MacPhail

Davis maintained that he was innocent from the very beginning and several witnesses recanted their testimony and the murder weapon was never found. A fuller account of the trial can be found here but what is clear is that there was a full process and many opportunities along the way for the death sentence to be commuted. But it wasn’t. Here is another account of the trial from a perspective that Davis was indeed guilty.

Troy Davis

I am surprised to find that, among my largely liberal friends, the jury is also out about the death penalty. The few people I know who have someone close to them been a victim of violent crime seem to favor keeping it. The further right we go, the more we are reminded that it costs millions of dollars to keep someone alive on death row and they get better medical and dental help than our war veterans.

One of the most powerful experiences that I had during my annual trips with students to help rebuild the Gulf Coast was a meeting with two men who sat on death row for 20+ years and were exonerated. They have a long list of men who were executed who’s guilt was in question and for whom the advances of DNA technology might also have proved their innocence. There is an organization called the Innocence Project that I wrote about a few months ago, who work with exonerees. 

It seems that when a person takes another life and admits to the crime that the death penalty has its place, but when there is doubt, I fail to understand how we continue to take the person’s life.

Your views? 

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

 

 

 

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