The Reality Of Working In The Fast Food Industry
The workers also are demanding full-time schedules so that they can receive benefits. Is this fair? What are conditions like inside America's fast-food chains?
AOL Jobs' "Lunchtime Live" discussed these issues Friday with Ken Margolies, an associate director at the Worker Institute at Cornell University, and two organizers from the Chicago protest, the Reverend Liz Munoz and Shani Smith.
During the chat, Munoz explained why the current industry practice of paying workers a minimum wage salary of $7.25 an hour isn't enough. "If you're living in Chicago, you need to be making at least $17 an hour just so you don't have to rely on public assistance," she said. "We're talking about a bare minimum here for families to support themselves. People can't work in a food industry and then not feed their families."
AOL Jobs invited representatives from fast food chains including McDonald's to join the discussion, but no one was made available.
The industry trade organization, the National Restaurant Association, did release a statement to AOL Jobs defending the sector's current pay model. "The minimum wage is typically a starting wage," Sue Hensley, a spokesperson for the association confirmed via e-mail. Nevertheless, she wrote, the "industry provides opportunities for millions of Americans, women and men from all backgrounds, to move up the ladder and succeed..., with 80 percent of owners and managers having started their careers in entry-level positions."
Do you think fast food workers should be paid more? What are the opportunities for advancement in chains? Share your comments below.
See below for highlights from the chat:
For the full video chat, go here.
Update: This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. EDT, April 26, 2013.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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