Fast Food Protests Focus on Wage Theft
Hundreds of McDonald’s employees took to the streets on Tuesday to protest a variety of complaints, not the least of which is wage theft.
The Associated Press reports that protests were originally part of a larger effort to focus on what some see as a need to increase the minimum wage in the U.S. Minimum wage currently stands at a Federally mandated $7.25 an hour. Protesters argue that this wage level, even for a full-time employee, still leads to workers qualifying for government assistance in the form of SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid, and other programs.
Some economists point out that paying such a wage amounts to a hidden government subsidy for businesses that do so, since their workers’ needs are not met through pay for their hours worked, but through supplements from taxpayers.
But the focus for these protests turned keenly to the more recent point of wage theft, thanks to lawsuits brought against McDonalds Corporation and some of its franchise operators.
Some McDonalds employees say that they are being cheated out of overtime pay by such practices as unfair clocking. In this scenario, employees are told to clock out during slow periods at the restaurant, but to remain on the premises and ready to clock back in when customers arrive. Thus the employee is still in uniform, at work, can not leave, but is not being paid.
In one Boston protest, marchers waved signs and chanted, “Every nickel, every dime, we deserve our overtime!”
The National Restaurant Association, a trade group funded by moneys from the parent corporations of McDonalds and other fast food industry players, called the demonstrations “orchestrated union PR events where the vast majority of participants are activists and paid demonstrators.”
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