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McDonald’s: you can sneer, but it’s the glue that holds communities together [Chris Arnade – The Guardian]

On the morning of their wedding, Omar and Betty shared a breakfast of egg McMuffins at a small McDonald’s table, dressed in their finest clothes. Before driving to a Houston courthouse to be married, they walked into the attached child’s play area and joked about one day bringing their kids there.

Few understand celebrating at a McDonald’s, but for Omar and Betty it made sense. They don’t have a lot of money, and McDonald’s is part of their life. It is that way in many poor and middle-income neighborhoods, where McDonald’s have become de-facto community centers and reflections of the surrounding neighborhood.

When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.

Striking out

Why tens of thousands of workers, from Verizon to McDonald’s, are walking off the job Thursday

Jim Tankersley and Brian Fung, at the Washington Post:

Tens of thousands of Americans will decline to report to work Thursday because of labor disputes, a surge that coincides with a fledgling sense of empowerment among workers who struggled for years to reap the gains of the economic recovery and which could mark a political and economic shift in the balance between employers and their employees.

The striking workers will include nearly 40,000 Verizon employees who walked off the job Wednesday in search of assurances that their positions will not be outsourced or automated in the near future, after contract talks with the company stalled.

The ranks also will include thousands of low-wage workers organized by the Fight for $15 campaign, which is pushing to increase the national minimum wage to $15 an hour. Organizers said that Thursday’s strike would be the campaign’s largest and would focus on picketing McDonald’s, one of the country’s largest employers of low-wage workers. The strikers will include McDonald’s employees but also workers from other fast-food chains, nursing homes and at least one university.

With the labor market tightening up, workers get more clout. Good.