By ALAN FEUER
Published: November 28, 2013
On a recent Friday evening, Eduardo Shoy left work at 6 p.m. Mr. Shoy, a deliveryman for KFC and Pizza Hut, was coming off an eight-hour shift of driving three-cheese pies and crispy chicken fingers, in an automotive blur, to private homes and businesses in central Queens.
Now it was the weekend and he was headed home. He parked his car in the little alley lot behind his house and, passing through the door, he kicked his shoes off, donned a pair of slippers and prepared a mug of tea. He sat down with his television set and ate the box of chicken he had brought back from the restaurant. Within an hour, remote control beside him, still dressed in his uniform, he had drifted off to sleep.
If Mr. Shoy were differently employed, he might have remained that way till morning. But as a fast-food worker paid the minimum wage — $7.25 an hour in New York — he didn’t have the luxury. At 10 p.m., he was up again and back in his car, this time driving to his second job, as a forklift operator at Kennedy International Airport, where he makes $13 an hour. Having worked all day, he was about to work all night: from 11 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. At 3 that afternoon, he would return to his deliveries at the restaurant. Then, at 11, he would once again drive to the airport.
Altogether, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, Mr. Shoy would sleep for 13 hours and work for 44. “Tired?” he asked, sounding puzzled by the question. “I’m too busy to be tired.”
THERE ARE 55,000 fast-food workers in New York — more than the entire population of Harrisburg, Pa. — and most, like Mr. Shoy, are struggling to stitch together a living in an industry where the median wage is $8.90 an hour. Last year, fast-food workers in Manhattan earned average pay of $19,000 — or about the cost of Mr. Shoy’s Honda. In Brooklyn, it was $15,500; on Staten Island, less.
Since 2000, the number of fast-food jobs in New York City has increased by more than 50 percent — 10 times as fast as in any other type of private job. But the conspicuous increase has not received the attention given, say, to the city’s high-tech industry, nor has it lessened the financial insecurities of this growing work force.