CHICAGO –The Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) highlights the impact of fast food jobs and other low wage occupations on Black youth in a new video released yesterday morning.
The video, titled Black Work Matters: The Fight for $15, calls sharp attention to the experiences of young Black people who are disproportionately trapped in fast food and other low wage service sector jobs, and the billion-dollar companies that refuse to pay them fairly for their work or allow them to unionize to fight for better working conditions.
To amplify the demands of the Fight for $15, a national movement to demand fair wages and union rights to fast food and other low-wage workers, the video includes testimonials from young Black activists and fast food employees describing their experiences with unsafe work environments and the impact of low wage work.
“The fact that there are so many of us that are not making a living wage, that aren’t making enough money to comfortably put food in the refrigerator, comfortably pay for child care – it’s inhumane. It’s not just,” says Janae Bonsu, co-chair of BYP100’s Chicago chapter.
Jessica Davis, a current fast food employee profiled in the video, describes the hard, sometimes painful reality that many Black youth face at their fast food jobs.
“When our child gets sick, we have to debate if we’re going to go to work or take our child to the doctor because you know missing that day at work will have a big impact on our check,” Davis shares candidly. “I didn’t think I had the right to stand up to my employer. I thought being a single mother of two children that the pay and the disrespect [I experience] was something I deserved,” adds Davis in another segment.
Low wage work and lack of access to union rights is a national problem, but presents a unique challenge to Black workers. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 Black people made up only 11.4% of the national employed population, but represented 20.5% of fast food workers. Additionally,Black workers are over-represented in low-wage work overall. In 2011, 36 percent of Blacks, including 38 percent of Black women, were employed in low-wage jobs.
The video features clips of actual demonstrations from direct action protests being led by BYP100, SOUL, the Worker Center for Racial Justice and Chicago Fight for $15 leaders. For Charlene Carruthers, National Director of BYP100, the fight for higher wages and collective bargaining rights for Black people is a long time coming and hits especially close to home.
“My mother has been a low wage worker for most of my childhood and most of my life. The wages she received didn’t match up with the work that she puts in every day,” says Carruthers in the video.
Black people are disproportionately impacted by falling wages and lack of access to union rights. In the video, Carruthers underlines the importance of fair wages and union rights for the liberation of Black people and Black youth.
“It’s a fight for the dignity of workers. It’s a fight for the right for workers to collectively bargain. It’s a fight for workers to actually be in safe environments where their grievances and their issues can be heard,” Carruthers states in the video.
On Wednesday, April 15th, BYP100 members in Chicago, New Orleans and NYC will be leading direct actions in solidarity with Fight for $15’s national Day of Action to demand fair wages and union rights for fast food workers.
“The Fight for $15’s demand for a union [for fast food workers] is absolutely crucial. Low wage workers, particularly workers in the fast food industry, deserve to actually be able to create the kind of workplace that they want to create,” stresses Carruthers in the video.
Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. On April 15, BYP100 will join the#Fightfor15 national day of action, dubbed the largest low-wage protest in modern American history, with events in Chicago, New Orleans and New York City. For more information, visit: bit.ly/BYP415
[Individuals featured in video available for additional comment by request. Please contact Michael J. Brewer, National Press Contact, for more details.]