A spirited group of community, religious and labor activists gathered outside a Western Avenue McDonald’s today to connect their efforts to raise fast-food workers’ earnings with a new study disclosing how dependent such low-income employees are on public assistance.
Among the facts of low-income life that were dug up by the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center report:
“We’ve seen McDonald’s clown the workers and we’ve seen Ronald McDonald – did you like that?” the Reverend Lewis Logan asked at the top of the rally.
A new study released today by the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center estimates that taxpayers contribute around $7 billion annually to provide basic social service benefits and health care to families of America’s expanding ranks of low-wage fast-food workers. The study, Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry, also found that:
Under the dark cloud of government shutdowns and other conservative-created mayhem shines a silver lining — the recent gains of California’s low-wage workers. Governor Jerry Brown has signed one law raising the state’s minimum wage and another that provides domestic housekeepers, maids and nannies with the right to get overtime pay. These were huge triumphs in a climate of constriction and budget cuts. Such policies will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers, as well as their families and communities.
These legislative victories are only as powerful as the organizing behind them. It was the huge numbers and commitment of thousands of organized workers (unionized or not) raising their voices that made it impossible for lawmakers to ignore their needs.
The exciting part of activating this new swath of workers is that many have historically not hailed from communities associated with trade unionism. Many come from low-income and/or immigrant communities of color.