Domino’s Fires 24 NYC Pizza Workers for Demanding Fair Wages [UPDATED]

UPDATE: On Thursday, the workers will be reinstated per an agreement between the Domino's store and New York's Attorney General. 

A labor strike that hit fast-food restaurants in 100 U.S. cities made a powerful statement this Dec. 5. For most workers, the work stoppage lasted only a day. Not so for 24 former employees of a Domino’s Pizza in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, who lost their pizza delivery jobs as a result of protesting unfair working conditions.

Bairon Solorzano, 27, was one of the 24. “Many of us have families here, kids that sometimes we don’t even get to see because we have to work the whole day,” Solorzano told Al Jazeera before the incident, adding that he earned $5.65 an hour in a position that relies on tips.

The strike was part of the “Fight for 15” campaign to raise fast-food workers’ wages to $15 an hour.

Following the Dec. 5 walkout, workers say management retaliated by assigning them untipped positions in the back of the house at the 181st St. Domino’s, with no increase in wages. When they complained, they were told they would need to endure it if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Minimum wage for tipped positions is lower than minimum wage for untipped positions, so paying a tipped-position wage for untipped work is akin to stealing from workers. This type of management tactic is not uncommon—according to one study, 84 percent of fast-food workers in New York City have experienced wage theft. 

The Dec. 5 strike was planned to last only one day. But on Dec. 7, in response to the retaliation, the workers walked out on their jobs again. This time, they weren’t let back in.

“We decided to talk to the manager, and the manager said: ‘if you don’t like it, the door’s open.’ So we all walked out,” Solorzano told Nigel Chiwaya for a report in DNAInfo.

The dismissed workers’ plight caught the attention of New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa. Both officials joined them and other supporters in a candlelight vigil outside the Domino’s location Dec. 9.

“The national fast-food strikes have brought the industry’s systemic mistreatment of its workers into the national spotlight, and we will continue to build momentum, continue to organize, until every employee receives the living wage of $15,” Rosa said in a news release.

Popular Resistance, an activism news site, called for a boycott of Domino’s in an act of solidarity with the fired workers. A few others took to Twitter to show support for the boycott.                                                                              

Last week’s strike was the third in a series of coordinated efforts that began in New York in November 2012. Sixty percent of fast-food workers in New York need public benefits in addition to their wages, at a cost of $708 million in assistance annually. 

The movement highlights the low wages earned in the fast-food industry and demands higher wages and dignity for fast-food workers. 

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