By Peter Zschiesche
We have heard the argument against the “Fight for 15” campaign, which tells us fast food jobs require no skill and no expertise and, therefore, are not worthy of making $15 per hour.
That argument is rubbish, something fast food chain employers know all too well — and the primary reason behind their ‘no poaching’ policies. These policies allows food chains to block workers from changing branches in search of better pay or promotions, all while the company pays the lowest wage they can. In fact, they will even cheat these skilled workers on their already low wages hoping nobody reports them to our local Employee Rights Center or the State Labor Commissioner’s office.
Now, according to the Associated Press, the state of Washington has busted several food chains, including McDonald’s, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., and Buffalo Wild Wings for having such policies that violate the state’s anti-trust laws. The state’s attorney general said businesses must compete for workers just as they compete with other businesses. Those chains have agreed to settle legal claims by ending those practices.
Since the state of Washington’s action against these chains, a coalition of Democratic state attorney generals are starting their own investigation of several chains’ “no-poach” agreements including Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Little Caesars, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and Panera Bread. Yes, being a Democrat in these states can make a difference for these workers.
So all the claims by these businesses to favor the “free market” and honor “competition” are hollow when it comes to their own employees, whom they chained with these policies. They conspired to hold their workers back in order to keep their wages as low as possible. Surprised?
This is not one or two bad employers. These are many major chains in the fast food industry.
This kind of exploitation is only possible because these employers do not have unions to hold their greed in check. Their workers are not empowered to fight back or even file claims without fear of retaliation and losing their jobs. They have no union contract that could have negotiated workers’ transfer rights between locations. Our unions are the best tool for workplace justice.
Anyone who knows of this kind of situation here in San Diego should report it to the Employee Rights Center in City Heights. Let us break these chains and get some worker justice as fast as we get our burger, fries, sandwiches, drinks, donuts, wings, pizza, or whatever.