Last year, Rynetta Bennett felt that after seven years of stagnant poverty wages at Wendy’s, it was time she stood up and demanded more. In the spirit of the labor movement, Rynetta took to the streets during the widespread fast-food strikes which dominated the headlines, in an effort to protest the unsustainable poverty wages she and her coworkers were being paid.
However, last week, citing what many are regarding as trumped-up workplace write-ups, Rynetta was let go from her job, leading to a massive rally outside the Manhattan Wendy’s from which she was fired.
Throughout a series of Occupy Wall Street and pro-fast food union activist networks, the call went out to organize today’s demonstration with the central demand that Wendy’s reinstate the 24-year-old, who was fired for what the company says, were uniform and dress code violations.
In the two write-ups which Wendy’s claims to be the cause for her termination, Bennett is said first to have been dressed for work in a wrinkled uniform, with the second disciplinary action, being her firing for what the company is stating was her ironing of the very same uniform.
Bennett took to the streets at the outset of the fast-food worker strikes which have sprung up around the country, with high concentrations in New York City, to demand a livable wage of $15 an hour. In this Occupy Wall Street news and events blog, organizers are calling not only for a one time rally in support of the fired labor activist, but for a sustained campaign against the same Nassau St. Wendy’s, until Bennett is reinstated.
In December, Rynetta gained national attention for her activism and organizing regarding the ongoing strikes, when during a brief interview with CNN, she said of the inequality between the Wall Street economy and of working people that “I think that it’s bad, but I think I deserve more.”
Rynetta’s simple comment, which are almost universally shared throughout the throngs of protesters which crowd the sidewalks and city streets where the ongoing strikes continue, went subtly viral throughout news blogs and websites which were covering the strikes and protests.
Though nation wide, the confluence of America’s growing service sector, the lackluster return of professional and technical opportunities and the increasingly divided twin economies of the rich and poor, have resulted in some of the greatest reaction occurring in New York, where despite the low and stagnant wages offered, the ever rising average cost of living is among the highest in the nation.
Late last year, after a Domino’s Pizza branch in New York was found to be paying below minimum wage to its workers, the employees who raised the issue with corporate, were summarily fired by the shop, only to be reinstated at an appropriate wage following similar protests and demonstrations as those getting underway today.
Though conservative and corporate think tanks, publications and politicians have all jumped at the opportunity to both shame what they see as “over-entitled” service sector workers, as well as to attempt to spin the lie that minimum wage increases would be bad for the national economy, most honest and respectable economists have voiced strong support for a wage increase for America’s most at-risk working population.
Adding to such on the political front, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has remained at the forefront of the debate, making waves with his comments last month, where he deconstructed right wing talking points on income inequality and the minimum wage, arguing that if Republicans wished to reduce welfare roles, raising the minimum wage was among the only options.