Unionizing the bottom of the pay scale

by Eduardo Porter

A protester held up a sign at a demonstration outside McDonald’s in Times Square in late November.  Photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Other than poverty, José Carrillo and Joshua Williams have little in common. The austere life of Mr. Carrillo, a 79-year-old Peruvian immigrant from Washington Heights, is a universe apart from the hardscrabble reality of Mr. Williams, a 28-year-old single father from Atlanta staying at his aunt’s place in Brooklyn to save on rent.