Outrage grows as new poll shows stealing from employees is rampant industry wide
By Crystal Page/CPI
San Diego – Fast-food employees and community and faith leaders took action Thursday against systemic and illegal wage theft in the industry—just days after the first-ever national poll of fast-food employees showed companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees.
The action comes as two former McDonald’s managers spoke out for the first time about how they were forced to steal from employees’ checks. In a video made public Tuesday, the managers talk about how they shaved time off of employees’ schedules, among other practices, so they wouldn’t “blow labor,” or spend more than they were supposed to, on employees.
“Employees in this KFC/Taco Bell are made to clock out and work off the clock routinely. The same thing happens at my store. We are also made to work off the clock. We don’t get our ten minute breaks,” said Raquel Neri, a mother who has worked at Wendy’s for 10 years. “If we work overtime, our employer rolls those extra hours over into the next pay period to avoid paying us time-and-a-half.”
Holding signs that read “San Diegans can’t afford to work for free,” fast-food employees and supporters rallied in front of a local KFC/Taco Bell demanding it and other fast-food companies stop the illegal theft of employees’ pay. A delegation of religious leaders entered the KFC/Taco Bell to speak with the manager about the employees at his store who are experiencing wage theft. The manager declined to provide public comment but spoke with the delegation in private.
The first-ever national poll of fast-food employees, conducted by Hart Research and released Tuesday, shows that the wage theft described by the McDonald’s managers pervades the entire fast-food industry. Companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are stealing money from 89 percent of their employees, according to the poll of 1,088 fast-food employees in the nation’s 10 largest metropolitan areas.
Since November 2012 fast-food employees have been campaigning for $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. As the campaign spread to more than 100 cities, it quickly became apparent that employees in the industry are victims of widespread illegal pay practices that erode their already meager salaries.
In addition to showing that nearly nine out of every 10 fast-food employees experience some form of wage theft, the poll shows:
- 92 percent of Burger King employees, 84 percent of McDonald’s workers and 82 percent of Wendy’s workers are victims of wage theft;
- 60 percent of fast-food employees have experienced three or more different types of wage theft;
- 60 percent of fast-food employees have been required to perform tasks before clocking in or after clocking out;
- 26 percent of fast-food employees have not always been paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours they worked.
“We come with every ethical mandate that says people who work get paid for all the hours they work,” said Rabbi Laurie Coskey of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice. “Wage theft is stealing and there is no ethical system where employees should be stolen from.”
Last month, class-action lawsuits filed in California, Michigan and New York alleged McDonald’s is systematically robbing employees by forcing them to work off the clock, shaving hours off their time cards and not paying them overtime, among other practices. The suits demand McDonald’s, which earned nearly $5.6 billion in profits in 2013, pay back the stolen wages and stop its illegal theft of workers’ pay.
And late last month, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a second settlement with a major fast-food company for stealing workers’ pay. The settlement with Domino’s, which followed one with McDonald’s earlier in March, means that workers have won back nearly $1 million in stolen wages in just the last few weeks.