Half of fast food workers rely on public assistance just to get by.
A new report based on collaborative research from the University of California Berkeley Labor Center and the University of Illinois (PDF here) helps us paint a clearer picture about the fast food industry’s impact on the widening income gap in the United States.
The report states that 52% of families of fast food workers receive assistance from public programs such as food stamps and medicaid. This number, while significant, points to an even larger problem: it’s only double the percentage of families elsewhere in the American workforce who rely on public assistance. While the debate (somehow) rages on as to whether fast food workers should be paid more than $9 after eight years of work, this study shows that “we the people” are far more invested in this issue than we realize.
Taxpayers are footing 1.2 billion just for families of McDonald’s employees. Inadequate pay costs us all, regardless of where you stand on the political issues. And remember this: There’s no such thing as a 99-cent burger. Someone somewhere in the supply chain will pay the price. Always.
In a statement to CNN, The National Employment Law Project stated the following:
“The leading companies in the industry [McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Subway…] earn billions in profits each year, award chief executives generous compensation packages, and regularly distribute substantial amounts of money in the form of dividends and share buybacks. At the same time…these highly profitable companies’ low-wage, no-benefits business model imposes on taxpayers.”
Fellow Americans, we’re suffering from a gross case of normalcy bias. We’re so accustomed to seeing employees struggle while the boss purchases a mansion and rides around in a $200,000 sports car that it only annoys us, if that. In truth, it should outrage us into action — not by wanting to be the boss and do the same thing but to change the system in whatever way we can.
There are destructive myths out there such as how the rich are more generous than the poor, and how fast food workers are mostly college students so raising the minimum wage won’t help families. But here’s what isn’t a myth:
What changes the world? An “infinitely large number of infinitesimally small actions.”