On Tuesday, April 1, an article from the L.A. Times hit the Internet, highlighting the perpetually foul treatment fast-food workers experience both on and off the clock. There were allegations of wage theft and blatant disregard for the established American labor laws.
Fast-food jobs are often viewed from a very stereotypical lens. People assume these jobs are strictly for teenagers in high school, striving to make a quick buck. It's also assumed that most of the employees are good-for-nothings and/or high school dropouts. In reality, in a country that is steadfast about outsourcing industrial jobs, this industry has helped supply employment to the unemployed.
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In 2014 statistics have shown that the average fast-food worker is actually attempting to raise a family and function like a normal human on a salary that often leaves them in poverty. In Chicago, 92 percent of fast-food workers claim that they have experienced wage theft. I've personally spoken to at least 30 St. Louis fast-food workers who have had similar issues. As a former fast-food worker myself, I also experienced this.
Wage theft is defined as illegally holding an employee's wages or the illegal denial of benefits. This usually occurs at jobs that hire low-wage workers, such as fast-food workers or immigrants.
I worked at the Arby's on West Florrisant for a brief spell when I was a teenager. I was attempting move out of my parents' home and get myself an apartment. I wasn't seeking anything too fancy, just something that would allow me to stand on my own two feet. I was fresh out of high school, and I worked a few jobs to make ends meet. I'm a hardworking individual -- I believe if you accept the job, you have no other obligation but to work hard and display as much diligence as possible. The problem is, I was working harder than ever and leaving with a paycheck that could barely pay my cell-phone bill. The management would cut our hours in the blink of an eye to help assist food costs. They had zero regard for our personal problems and financial woes.
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They would schedule us for fewer than 20 hours a week. If business was booming we'd work close to 40 hours, yet they'd ask us to sign out and handle a few things off the clock. For the sake of remaining employed, most of us were willing to continue working. If business was not booming, we'd find ourselves reduced to five to ten hours week.
I applaud the fast-food workers currently pushing for better wages and the right to organize a union without being punished. If they can accomplish this, it changes the game for minimum-wage workers in every industry. We all deserve fair treatment and a wage that gives us the ability to take care of our families. If you're willing to work for your money, you don't deserve welfare wages. Minimum wage does not reflect today's cost of living. This defeats the entire purpose of minimum wage -- it was designed to match the financial burdens and economical concerns of the time.
Many honest, hardworking people are working these jobs, because in this economic climate, they are the only jobs readily available. The rich continue to get richer while the poor suffer a severe lack of options. The solution is a fair wage. What is so hard to understand about that?
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