Local lawmakers stand with fast-food workers

Several East Bay lawmakers have expressed solidarity with fast-food workers in the Bay Area and across the nation who walked picket lines Thursday to demand a $15-per-hour wage and the right to unionize without management interference.

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee:

“Today, I stand with workers across the country who are striving to build a better life for themselves and their families by fighting for a living wage. Those who work hard and play by the rules shouldn’t have to struggle to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.

“Low pay not only harms the families forced to subsist on it, but it also holds back our recovery from the Great Recession. Better pay will put more money into local businesses and spur economic growth. That’s why a living wage is not about asking for a handout. Rather, it’s about valuing work. And it’s about growing the economy from the bottom up by increasing working families’ purchasing power. Americans on today’s picket lines aren’t just standing up for themselves – they are standing up for a stronger America.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“I applaud the courageous action taken by thousands of workers around the country today by participating in the walkout for job protection and fair wages.

“To re-build our economy and expand the middle class we need to put more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing, low-wage jobs by creating a living wage. Our goal cannot simply be to increase the minimum wage, but rather, establish a living wage, with the dignity of benefits to achieve a good standard of living to afford the basics while working one full time job.

“A living wage will increase the quality of life for low wage earning families and will lift our entire economy.

“I am proud to support the workers striking today for a living wage, and I will continue to fight to make sure families receive the fair wages they deserve.”

From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“Fast food CEOs have super-sized salaries, while their workers earn unlivable wages, wages that can’t support their own families. A single mom in Oakland with two school-age children needs to earn more than $50,000 to make ends meet, while the average fast food worker only earns between $10,000 and $18,000 a year. Families deserve a living wage. It’s just wrong for McDonald’s and others to ignore this inequity.”

The CEOs and their companies don’t own all of the fast-food outlets; many are owned by franchisees. From International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira:

“Mandating increased wages would lead to higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately, lost jobs and opportunities for employees to become managers or franchise owners. The franchise industry is a proven job-creator and career-builder, yet efforts to double the minimum wage to $15 would clearly jeopardize opportunities for existing and prospective employees.

“Many franchises have developed successful programs designed to help employees rise from entry level to management and ultimately, ownership. Arbitrarily mandating a higher minimum wage will only reduce the amount of entry-level jobs that workers need to gain the skills to move up the employment ladder.”

“This campaign is also designed to pressure employees into organizing, generating much-needed headlines and revenue for labor unions who have faced a sharp decline in private-sector membership for years.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    3 pols walk into a fast food joint. G says, “Burger and fries, please.” Clerk says, “No hablo ingles, honky!” B says, “Say bro, just a frappe.” Clerk says, “You’ll have to wait. I’m not signed into this register.” N asks for water. Clerk says, ” Where’s the receipt? No drinks without a receipt.”

  • Alcoahead

    Where is “El Smellwell”, aka “The Man of The People” (since he wants to try out for every menial job done in HIS district) on this crucially important social justice/economic equity topic?

    Oh, right, he’s too busy tweeting/poking/vining with his interns to put his @$$ on the line with an actual, on-the-record OPINION on a topic so relevant to those voters in his district who happen to be in his same age cohort (18-35)…

    My bad.

  • Elwood

    George Miller, Barbara Lee and Nancy Skinner

    A trifecta of trollops.

    How could Eric Swalwell or any other relatively sane person hold his own in such distinguished company?

    With Ellen Tauscher’s $47 million, Swalwell is a mortal lock!

  • MichaelB

    Another example of “progressive” politicians just not getting it on how a business operates/promoting class envy/wanting equality of outcomes instead of opportunities.

    It’s only “fair” that we “put” more money in the hands of those “less fortunate” (not have people earn it) because the “rich” can afford to give it up. Delusional.

    If you pay workers (who apparently don’t have any responsibility to improve their job marketability) with little or no skills inflated/”living” wages you end up with less jobs.

  • Alcoahead

    @4 —

    Let’s see now; oh yes, Henry Ford paid his workers an outrageous price of $5 per DAY back in the 1920s to perform relatively meaningless work (grab a nut, put it on a bolt, and let the assembly move on down the line to the next guy) — and how did that work out? Pretty bad, right, ol’ “conservative wise one”?

    I mean, Detroit never added up to anything other than “the Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II and making sure your German reading, writing and speaking skills remained piss poor…

  • Alcoahead

    @5 —

    I knew I shouldn’t have trusted my memory on such details, because when I went back and checked, I found I was wrong; Henry Ford did NOT give his workers a living wage of $5 per day back in the 1920s — it was nineteen-FOURTEEN!

    My bad…

  • GV Haste

    Australia has the following minimum wage scale.
    In Australia the Big Mac costs about 10% more than in the USA. NOT double.

    The big lie is that if labor costs double, the burger and fries will double in cost.
    Not true any more than if agricultural labor costs double, you’ll end up with $5 heads of lettuce.
    Truth is, from a UC Davis study that a 30% increase in wages in the field, lead to only about 5% increase in the supermarket.

    Now, back to the fast food (minimum wages) in Australia.


    Adult = $16.67 AUS = $14.88 USD

    age 20 = $15.01 AUS = $13.35 USD

    age 19 = $13.34 AUS = $11.87 USD

    age 18 – $11.67 AUS = $10.38 USD

    age 17 = $10.00 AUS = $9.00 USD

    Under 17 = $8.34 AUS = $7.50 USD

    I might add those wages are for 38 hours per week but if you work “casual” hours, the pay is considerably higher.

    For casual work, a adult minimum is $20.67 AUS or about $18.39 USD.

    Now, taxes are higher but Australians also have a national health insurance they can count on.

    All in all, workers are treated better and a BIG MAC can still be purchased for only about 50 cents more than in the USA.

    A more than fair trade off in a decent society.

  • GV Haste

    Here is the pdf rate sheet for Australian minimum wages in South Australia


  • Alcoahead

    @7 —

    Oh, come on now, everyone knows how socialist those Limies are, what with their ban on guns and all!

    Here’s what a 22 outlet burrito fast food joint business owner told Varney, that oracle of all wisdom at Fox Business, about how he treats his workers, pay-wise:


    Who you gonna believe? Some savvy, successful, capitalistic, with-it biz guy on Fox or those commie Limies?

  • MichaelB


    That was the 1920s. This is now. Manual labor jobs that were once necessary have been disappearing for years and are being replaced by new technology/machines/more skilled workers. Should we bring back steam locomotives just to employ more manual labor? Get rid of all computers?

    We could have more blue collar/”working class” jobs in the oil/gas industry right now if so called “progressives” would allow it but they won’t. This newspaper had an article regarding the NUMMI plant closing and how difficult/expensive it was for new manufacturing facilities to operate in California because of regulations.

    There’s a difference if Ford does something like this privately vs. government forcing everyone else to do it. It IS pretty bad if people think the only way to “get ahead” in life is to take from/be envious of those who already have. Or think income and wealth is a “right” requiring no effort on their part.

    How’s Detroit doing right now as a result of years of left wing policies – uncontrollable spending, high taxes on those still living there and catering to demands of organized labor groups? It’s bankrupt.

  • Alcoahead

    @10 —

    Your name and the word “community” don’t come up in the same sentence much, do they?

    It must be fun living in that “zero sum world”, isn’t it — where “it is not enough that I must win, you must lose”, and the word “luck” never gets mentioned at all as a means by which some (like Bill Gates, who admits to being VERY lucky) get all they want, and others are lucky to still have their hands intact at the end of a shift…

  • Elwood

    Gee, I never knew burger flipping was so dangerous that you might lose your hands.

    I’m sure it’s just bad luck that people have those jobs.

    Stupidity and willful ignorance couldn’t have anything to do with it.

  • MichaelB


    More like your zero sum world, not mine. Sounds like you are the one who thinks the economy is really “fixed”, there are no opportunities for anyone and the government MUST take from those who earn and give to those who do not for the nation to prosper.

    I’m not in favor of anyone “losing”. Get over the fact that someone doing well using freedoms and opportunities, getting an education, saving money (and doing well) really did not “steal” something from or “hold back” the less fortunate in the process. I guess anyone doing well in our nation can be explained by just being “lucky”? Yeah right. My first jobs were delivering newspapers and washing dishes at a restaurant. I guess I should have just kept on doing that for the rest of my life (and not bothered getting an education or additional job skills) so I could moan and groan that someone made/had more than I did?

    Success in anything requires effort and sacrifice. You can have the collectivist/utopian “spread the wealth around” and “you didn’t build that” nonsense coming from Obama and others like him who shamelessly promote an entitlement mentality in our nation. We tried ending poverty by just throwing money at it and it failed. Other nations are in trouble by promising cradle to grave benefits they can’t afford.

  • Alcoahead

    @12 —

    You really need to stop reading Newsmax, open the door to your cave, and get out more…


    “…Adolescents working in the restaurant industry in general were at six times greater risk of sustaining a work-related burn injury than teens working in any other industry, the study found. Overall, during the period studied, emergency departments treated an estimated 108,000 work related injuries to teens in all industries….”

    Remember that you were the one to use the words “stupidity” and “ignorance” first.

    @13 —

    Wrong. Success in anything begins with being born into a family that is intact, healthy, functional and supportive — things that you (and I) got but clearly things YOU take for granted, as do most “white suburban folks”.

    You want to learn how lucky YOU were from day one? Take a drive down East 14th in Oakland and imagine your @$$ being born THERE…if you DARE to expose your ego to THAT truth.

    I am all in favor of stemming the tide of unwanted pregnancies (babies having babies) through whatever means are necessary, but clearly unlike you, I have some modicum of compassion for those who came out of the wrong womb through no fault of their own and need a hand up, aka called “caring and sharing”.

  • Elwood

    “I am all in favor of stemming the tide of unwanted pregnancies (babies having babies) through whatever means are necessary”

    Castration would be good.

  • Alcoahead

    @15 —

    Since you brought it up, then by all means, have that done to yourself. Let us all know when it’s complete.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    Everybody who actually works for a living should make enough to actually live near where they work. I live in a corrupt City of Bad Ideas. It is incredibly rare to find a person who works in retail, or food, actually living here.
    The City’s NIMBY’s get hostile if low income housing is mentioned. Plus the fact that Social Security needs more people making more money. Pay the food workers more. It won’t bother me one bit. If you see me in a fast food outlet, it’s to use the rest room.
    I wonder where Sniper JohnW went? The troll is missing in action. Did he change his title to Alcoahead?

  • MichaelB


    How predictable. I’m not “compassionate” because I don’t believe in the entitlement mentality/socialistic agenda promoted by the left wing. I actually think it’s unhealthy for people to remain on government welfare programs all of their lives and it’s better if they have employment to support themeselves.

    And of course you (and your ego) just couldn’t resist introducing race?

    Why is East 14th in Oakland in bad shape? Maybe the result of too many left wing policies of encouraging government dependency on welfare programs, blaming “racism” for all problems for minorities, making excuses for criminal activity like blaming guns, elected officials creating unfriendly business climates, etc.?

    So if I did happen to be born into a stable family regardless of race does that still mean a rich person is “holding me back” because he/she earns or has more than I do? I’m really “entitled” to a portion of their income to “make it fair”? I don’t have to do anything at all?

  • RR Senile Columnist

    I was mugged yrs ago by a culturally deprived youth, deprived of an understanding family and deprived of a proper education due to an unjust distribution of wealth. I wasn’t injured, just roughed up a bit. I regret the youth did not say that had people of my color supported strict firearms control this crime would not have occurred.

  • Alcoahead

    @18 —

    No, you’re not “not compassionate” because you don’t believe in this so-called and self-labelled “entitlement mentality” — you’re not compassionate because you REFUSE to go anywhere near realizing just how lucky you were to be born at the place and race you happened to be at when you popped out of your womb.

    That’s OK, though — VERY few upper-middle class, highly educated whites really have the ego to “go there”, so you’ve got lots of bad company — all of them (and you) thinking that 100% of your affluence is due solely to your superior individual skills and decision-making abilities from the time you were, say, eighteen.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Once, while hiking through a remote stretch of the Brooks Range in Alaska, I came upon a tiny cabin isolated in the wilds. An old man, swathed in rags and animal skins, grunted a greeting. My life changed forever at a burger joint yrs. ago, he said. He removed some filthy bandages to reveal hideous deformities to his face and his right arm. A workplace accident in my teens, he said. I could never forget the sight, too revolting to relate here.

  • Alcoahead

    @21 —

    But yet you did (relate that sight here) — and I’m sorry but your tale once again doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Nice try, though — pick up your prize at the exit door for playing…and you win a bonus prize for your level of sarcasm.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Bottom line, boys and girls, the vast majority of food service injuries involve minor burns, a few deep but mainly shallow cuts to the digits and palms, some aches and pains, etc. Anybody who works with food is bound to gain a few small scars on the hands–it’s an occupational hazard.

  • MichaelB


    Apparently “going there” is just being another follower of the “society is racist so don’t bother” camp. Is this your idea of deep thought? Is this going to pay someone’s mortgage or put food on their table?

    Just what we need to tell young people (regardless of their skin color) growing up. Don’t do or learn anything. Just complain that someone else doing better was really just “lucky”, they are prejudiced because of their skin color and then demand a “fair share” of their things with the help of politicians wanting votes claiming it’s a “right” to receive it.

    You refuse to go near how destructive and childish this kind of (entitlement) reasoning is. Sorry, nothing worthwhile is easy nor free. Maybe you will eventually understand. If you don’t then consider moving to Cuba or Venezuela where the government runs everything, people are not free and they receive their “fair share” of misery handed out to them.

  • Elwood

    @ 22

    Sarcasm is lost on the tiny-brained folk.

  • JohnW


    I would make a similar point in specific reference to immigration. I totally agree with the need for immigration controls. But it never ceases to amaze me how people who are strongly anti-immigrant (especially immigrants from you know where), act as if they did something other than being born to deserve being American citizens. People may be entitled to citizenship, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve it. And many who aren’t entitled to it deserve it a whole lot more than some who have it only because they won the lucky sperm lottery. I especially have these thoughts about people who oppose the Dream Act.