A restaurant industry group ran a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times to dispel public dismay about homeless fast food workers. This follows the LA Times article, “Low wages, short hours drive many fast-food workers into homelessness,” that covered our report, Hungry Cooks.
Working conditions in the fast food industry are not a zero sum game where either franchise owners go out of business or fast food workers become homeless. This is a large, profitable industry where the highly profitable parent corporations can also help solve the problem. Small concessions, for example, 6% from owners and 6% from customers, will raise the labor force out of working poverty.
The public has a stake in solving this problem because the public is paying for basic needs of the fast food workforce through Medi-Cal and food stamps. Individual franchise owners risk a competitive disadvantage if they try to solve this problem individually, but if public regulations raise the playing field for wages for everyone, no one is put at a disadvantage.
The StopAB1228 group called the Roundtable report unscientific. That’s not true. We used the best available data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. What is true is that the restaurant industry has even better data. They have the payroll tax records for their workers. If our estimates of poverty employment are too high, their records can prove it. It’s entirely possible that our estimates are too low.