- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2013

The labor movement’s latest fast-food protest drew a “delicious backlash” Thursday from the burger-loving opposition.

Critics of the Service Employees International Union’s push to organize the fast-food industry went out of their way Thursday to buy chicken nuggets, onion rings and milkshakes in a show of solidarity with their local franchises.

“If the union bosses really cared about these workers, they wouldn’t be exploiting them,” said Dana Loesch, a conservative talk-show host based at KFTK-FM in St. Louis, who posted photos of herself hugging a Hardee’s truck and biting into a cheeseburger.

Like Ms. Loesch, many of the counter-protesters posted shots of their purchases on Twitter with the hashtags #fastfoodthursday and #eatfast, which were reposted on Twitchy, a social-media site started by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

“I personally don’t eat much fast food but will today as a symbolic thumb my nose @seiu and their thug tactics,” said Mark Inman on Twitter.

The rallies come as the latest in a series of protests organized this year by the pro-union group Fast Food Forward. The campaign called for walk-offs and boycotts Thursday at more than 100 locations in order to denounce the minimum-wage salaries typically earned by fast-food employees.

The protests appeared to be concentrated along the East Coast, including an early-morning rally outside a McDonald’s in New York City, where demonstrators held signs with messages like, “Stick together for $15 and a union.”

“We can’t survive on $7.25!” chanted protesters, according to The Associated Press.

Union organizers are calling for a doubling of the hourly wage to $15. Critics say that will result in higher prices and lay-offs, adding that fast-food jobs are historically entry-level positions for younger workers, not positions intended for those trying to support a family.

The SEIU’s foray into the fast-food sector comes as unions struggle to maintain their influence amid declining membership. Only about 6 percent of private-sector employees belong to labor unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The National Restaurant Association described the protests in a release as “a coordinated PR campaign engineered by national labor groups where the vast majority of participants are activists and paid demonstrators.”

Crowds at Thursday’s protests weren’t quite super-sized. The AP said about 100 people participated in the New York rally, while the Detroit Free Press reported gatherings of 50 and 100 at two McDonald’s locations. Meanwhile, USA Today reported “dozens” at an event in Washington, D.C.

Tony Katz, a talk-show host at WIBC-FM in Indianapolis, posted a photo of his McDonald’s breakfast, adding, “Breakfast in Los Angeles, and not a single protester. I eat in peace.” Added Twitchy: “We’re lovin’ it!”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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