Why I'm Fasting from Fast Food

Janel Bailey |

I called a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and he asked me how work was going. I told him it felt ambitious, we were gearing up to ask folks across the country to pledge to Fast from Fast Food in support of fast food workers who were taking big risks to stand up for their rights at work.

Knowing I'm an avid lover of Wendy's and everything fried, he asked, "Whoa, are you gonna do that too?"

I half-heartedly said, "I guess, it'd be really awkward to ask a bunch of other people to do it, and then they catch me sitting in McDonald's one day during the fast."

As we spoke with others about the fast (how to make it happen, how to include everyone we could, and most importantly why we should even attempt it) it became increasingly obvious that it made sense for me to join the fast. Why would I not join an action to draw attention to the bold moves fast food workers are making?

I spent a couple days last week in Atlanta, meeting with fast food workers who were a part of the Fight for $15 National Organizing committee. We listened to folks talk about the disrespect they endured at work, and how they were treated when they called it out. I reflected on my own days in retail, being intimidated from talking to other unionized workers at one job, and being unjustly fired from another. Most of the workers on the committee were regular folks like me (except one who is a low-key superstar, and took the mic later in the meeting) who were easy to connect with.

Although I casually expressed this in 140 or so characters via Twitter, it is my genuine belief that it doesn't take much for me to give up my beloved Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers for a little while. Especially given that these leaders are risking their livelihoods when they talk to their co-workers, sign petitions, and walk out on strike. The organizing committee spends hours after work talking on conference calls, planning at strategy meetings, going out talking to other workers, and speaking in public spaces...and then they head back to their regular jobs and continue to face their managers each day.

They've seen other fast food workers removed from the schedule or get their hours reduced, and even facing that threat and knowing what it could mean for them at home, they still fight. They take these risks not only for themselves and their families, but for an entire industry of people who are constantly disrespected at their jobs. Bearing this in mind, I'll proudly be forgoing my post-meal frosty for the next 40 days.