Working in food service, living below the poverty line

McDonald's Must Pay work stoppage

Photo by Kara Newhouse via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Inquirer recently wrote a great piece about the sub-poverty wages of many workers in fast food and other parts of the service sector. He writes,

Over the past two decades, with the Industrial Revolution and its union wages all but a memory, fast-food jobs have skyrocketed – now employing roughly 3.5 million Americans and as many as 15,000 Philadelphians.

In a new service-based economy, flipping burgers and manning the drive-through is no longer just a part-time starter job for eager high-school students, but now a long-term solution for people on the wide bottom of the economic pyramid – folks lacking a diploma, single moms or those escaping long-term unemployment.

The ones who stay behind the counter have found not only that it’s hard to claw much above the $7.25 minimum wage, but that they have little or no leverage with the big chains or their franchisees – and no one speaking on their behalf.

Until now.

Find the full article here.

And for reporting on abuse of international guest workers by a McDonald’s franchisee (see protest photo above), check out these stories from Josh Eidelson at The Nation.

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