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.”