food workers

Horns Up: Wind energy project almost complete.

As the Texas Tribune reported on Monday, Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, which seeks to connect the nation’s largest expanse of wind farms in West Texas to the state’s major cities, will open for business in a few weeks. At 18,500 megawatts, it dwarfs the wind energy production of any other state by at least a three to one margin. In a state traditionally dominated by the pollution-heavy, non-renewable oil industry, we’re proud to also call ourselves the nation’s leader in a sustainable energy source.

Horns Down: Cruz is rolling in it.

While doing more than anybody else to cause the recently ended government shutdown, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has raised over $1 million in the past month — raising his funding level for 2013 to $2.67 million despite the fact that he doesn’t officially face a reelection until 2018. His name recognition has skyrocketed, and it’s disheartening to hear how much he’s profited off his reckless and dangerous demagoguery. But we hope — and expect — that he’s also engendered enough enmity to compensate. Cruz also made news Tuesday for being conspicuously absent from an emergency meeting of Republican Senators on how to achieve a workable fix to the crisis. A Cruz spokeswoman said he had a “previous commitment.” We find it hard to imagine what could take precedence over cleaning up the gargantuan mess he largely caused.

Horns Down: Fast food not nearly enough.

A University of California and University of Illinois report released Tuesday found that 52 percent of the families of fast-food workers in America have to use public assistance programs to get by. In Texas, that number was 59 percent. This is yet another piece of evidence that the minimum wage is inadequate to support a family and must be raised for families to have anything like a real chance at the American Dream.


Activists marched on Guadalupe Street on Thursday afternoon in protest of low employee wages in the fast food industry. Their objective is to raise minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour.

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

As the second day of classes started, federal minimum wage laws might have been one of the last things on most students’ minds — but wages were at the forefront of one of the busiest student commuter areas. Over 100 students, fast food workers and community members picketed across the Drag as part of a nationwide campaign for higher wages.
Fast food workers in Austin and 50 other urban centers nationwide held rallies and protests with the main goal of raising the federal minimum wage to $15. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Among the crowd was Maria Ortiz, a current Long John Silver’s employee. Ortiz, who works at the restaurant’s Riverside location, said she was motivated to attend the rally because of her current economic situation.

“I want more wages to provide for my family,” Ortiz said. “I’m a single mom and need to provide.”

Though event organizers said some fast-food workers were hesitant to attend the rally for fear of losing their jobs, Ortiz said she was not taking a risk by participating.

“My director of operations at Long John Silver’s said I was good to do what I want,” she said.

Ortiz was just one of the many employees upset about current minimum wage rates. 

Jose Rodriguez, a former Fuddruckers employee, said he shared the frustration about wages he perceives as much too low.

“I don’t think that $7.25 makes any sense,” Rodriguez said. “In fact, I don’t even think $8 makes any sense. I demand higher wages.”
Also among the crowd were UT employees, who said they were sympathetic to the fast food workers’ frustrations. Rocio Villalobos, a program coordinator at the University’s Multicultural Engagement Center, said she supports the movement because of personal experiences.

“I grew up in a working class family, my father worked two jobs to provide, and my mother worked long hours for minimal pay,” Villalobos said. “I empathize with these worker’s struggles.”

In addition to requesting higher wages, protesters demanded the right to form a worker’s union without fear of reprimand.

Kelly Booker, an information studies graduate student and member of the Texas State Employees Union, said she protested because she felt passionate about unionization.

“Our union is the reason graduate students now have health care benefits, and we just wanted to show our support for fast food unions by coming out today,” Booker said.