Fast-Food & Retail Slavery

by: The Recalcitrant Gourmet

  I’m writing this article to promote a boycott of mega-corporations and fast-food chains that refuse to pay their workers a living wage. I want them to know that I, along with many of the staff at this paper, are in solidarity with the workers and; their strikes, their right to organize and their right to form and join a labor union.

Fact: New York State & Broome County have a minimum wage that is equal to the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25/hr.: That is $290.00/week before taxes or approximately $15,080/year for working 40 hrs. a week ALL 52 weeks of the year.  A living wage in Broome County for one adult is $8.85/hr. (or $18,408 a yr. before taxes), for two adults the living wage jumps to $13.14/hr. and for a single parent of one (child) the living wage goes up to $19.95/hr.

Fact: The median gross rent in Broome County (2011- more today) is $609.00/month or $7,308 a year. For a minimum wage worker that leaves approximately $157.97 a week for: food, transportation, clothing, heat, electricity, healthcare (as most minimum wage jobs come with no benefits or healthcare) and recreation.   

Fact: The average single person in Broome County (with no children) would have to seek a second minimum wage job and work another 10hrs a week just to boost their income to $18,408/year (before taxes). However, a single parent (of one) living in Broome County, working at minimum wage, would have to work 104 hours a week. Or work a full time minimum wage job, a second full time minimum wage job (40hrs./wk.) plus a third job at 24hrs./wk.: IMPOSSIBLE!

Fact: More than half of low-wage workers at fast-food restaurants rely on public assistance to survive:  More than twice the overall US workforce.  This cost American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year. Moreover, McDonald’s alone is responsible for more than $1.2 billion, of that $7 billion.

These figures do not even take into account that approximate 1/3rd of all minimum waged workers are subject to wage theft, which I have experienced personally.  [Thank you Blaine (mgr. or former mgr.) at the Court St. Burger King, and of course the Carrols Corporation!] Wage theft is rampant in the restaurant industry across the country. Many fast food workers have been subjected to (as I had once been, years ago) their employers not paying earned overtime or managers siphoning hours out of the computer system.

Fact: Recently the NYS Attorney General, Eric Schniederman, found that 84% of fast food workers in NYS were routinely forced to work overtime without pay. They were also denied reimbursement for fuel costs on deliveries.

Fact: The average (nationwide) fast food worker earns approximately $11,000.00/yr. Yet the top 4 fast food CEO’s (McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC (a division of PepsiCo) and Wendy’s earn an average of $25,000.00 a day! Furthermore, last year the top 10 largest fast-food companies earned $7.4 billion in profits. 

I say it’s high time we tanked these CEO’s and their über wealth.  We need to boycott these corporations until they begin paying a living wage to their employees, stop stealing their employee’s wages and stop costing tax payer billions. Denying them their profits only makes sense. If enough of us do participate in a boycott and make our reasons for doing so it crystal clear, we might just be able to change their treatment of the workers they so easily and without conscience exploit. Our Country and our local economy will only get stronger when we stop exploiting people for shareholders’ profit margins and Capitalist greed. Please join me in this boycott! Let Broome County be an epicenter of the boycott!







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