The words Surviving Fast Food and a hamburger next to a piece of pizza

JP Morgan Chase is one of Central Ohio’s largest private employers with over 20,000 workers, and several told the Free Press they’ve been told to expect raises and a one-time cash bonus this year as a result of the tax bill corporate giveaway. Fifth Third Bank and Wells Fargo have also promised to boost salaries and issue bonuses, and even Walmart has said it will increase its starting hourly wage from $9 to $11, which as far as the Free Press is concerned, is still peanuts.

Nevertheless, it’s a start. But other industries have been deafeningly silent about raising pay, such as the fast-food industry. There are nearly four million fast-food workers nationally, and in Columbus they account for about seven percent of the employment or about 80,000 workers, this according to the progressive non-profit Policy Matters Ohio.
Certainly you don’t need our heroes at Policy Matters Ohio to tell you that those who make our burgers and burritos make diddly squat when it comes to pay. But we will allow them to tell you how this affects their children. A full-time, year-round fast-food worker can’t keep a family of three out of poverty (ie, single moms), states Policy Matters Ohio.

So why can’t fast-food workers get a raise too? It’s the McShit with Lies business model utilized by the fast-food industry. A business model Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and others use to small-size wages, says local Services Employee International Union or SEIU spokesperson Anthony Caldwell. “A business model that Wendy’s and McDonald’s hide behind and is completely bogus,” says Caldwell. “No service-sector employee should be making less than $15 an hour.”
Fast-food corporations merely license their brand to individual franchise operators who set their own employees wages. To become a franchisee you have to have a lot of money, and as the corporate offices demand, you stay profitable or lose your restaurants.

And there’s the Taco Bowel rub. Wendy’s, McDonald’s and others wield powerful oversight on a franchisees spending and whether they are making a profit, but don’t give a poop about what their hardest working employees make. Many local fast-food restaurant workers make $8 to $10 an hour without benefits. Wendy’s corporate office confirmed to the Free Press that 95 percent of their restaurants are franchised.

The resulting imbalance of a fast-food worker’s life to the franchisee’s Pig in Zen life is a McShame. The Free Press knows of a local fast-food franchisee who owns several restaurants that rhyme with the word “mucky” and serve their fried fowl in a bucket.

This unnamed franchisee lives in a rural mansion far past the outer belt, and at Christmas time holds a massive party where numerous rooms are adorned with decked out Christmas trees.

“These franchise owners have to remain profitable so they pay poverty-level wages. They claim many of their workers are young kids, for instance, but many adults also work in these restaurants,” says Caldwell. “Whether it’s Wendy’s or McDonald’s they exploit this business model.”

Caldwell says the windfalls from Trump’s tax giveaway scam are definitely not going to Central Ohio’s moderate or low-income workers. Policy Matters Ohio states seven of the ten largest occupations in Columbus pay so little that a full-time, year-round worker earning the median wage is probably eligible for food assistance.

Take the region’s hottest new tightwad employer, Amazon. Again, our peeps at Policy Matters Ohio recently found that one out of ten Amazon employees in Ohio is on some form of government food subsidy. Compare that to the latest news that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth just went past $100 billion. Let that sink in for a second…that’s billions not millions.

“We are putting pressure on some of Central Ohio’s most profitable and largest low-wage employers to raise wages, but they’re more interested on concentrating their wealth at the top,” says Caldwell. “They’re taking their tax saving and paying their investors in dividends, for instance.”

The job market has improved, but the competition for jobs and good-paying jobs remains fierce.
“The challenge is people need jobs and the most profitable employers in Central Ohio are exploiting that. There’s been no talk of a huge job expansion by some of Central Ohio’s largest employers,” says Caldwell. “Yes, some of Central Ohio’s largest employers, in banking for example, are giving their employees bonuses or raises, but the largest retail and fast-food employers have been pretty silent on giving their employees a raise.”


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