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12 Facts About Why Low Wage Workers Strike For Higher Wages

You've probably heard that workers in several cities in the United States went on strike last Thursday for higher wages. Some facts about why workers are striking:

  1. The average fast food worker makes $8.69 an hour. About 87 percent of fast food workers receive no health benefits. (Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center)
  2. The minimum wage rate kept pace with productivity from 1947 to 1969. Since then, they haven't. If they had, the minimum wage would now be over $16 an hour, not $7.25. The strikers are asking for $15 an hour. (Source: Baker and Kimball, Center for Economic and Policy Research)
  3. The ongoing bailout of the fast food industry is very expensive. The 10 largest fast food companies cost taxpayers about $3.9 billion in government health assistance and $1.04 billion in food assistance. (Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center)
  4. The same 10 companies earned $7.4 billion in profits last year, and paid out $7.7 billion in dividends. So, these corporations can easily afford modes increases in the minimum wage rate and/or an end to industry subsidies. (Source: National Employment Law Project)
  5. The strikes targeted large employers. 66 percent of low-wage workers are employed by corporations with 100 employees or more. McDonald’s employs 707,850 people. Yum! Brands (e.g., Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC) employs 379,449 people. The workforce for these 10 corporations is greater than the populations of Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. (Sources: National Employment Law Project, and the US Census Bureau)
  6. 25 percent of American workers receive some form of public assistance. For fast food workers it was 52 percent. And more than half of full-time fast food workers receive some form of public assistance. (Sources: University of California, Berkeley/University of Illinois study; and UC Berkeley Labor Center)
  7. Most low-wage workers are adults. Nationally, adults make up 88 percent of the workers. In areas like New York State and Albuquerque, New Mexico, that figure is 92 percent. (Sources: US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Fiscal Policy Institute, and New Mexico Voices for Children/Fiscal Policy Project)

Read the full list of facts at the Bill Moyers website.

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