Their salaries are so meager, he says, that they rely on food stamps and Medicaid to get by.
"The taxpayers shouldn 't have to pay for what we need to survive," said the 25-year-old Olson, who planned on taking part in the Fight for 15 march Wednesday in Denver for an increased minimum wage. "It should be between employees and companies to determine a living wage."
The Denver protest was one of several staged Wednesday by fast-food workers and other low-wage earners nationwide. Nearly 1,000 protesters turned out in Los Angeles, while in Chicago boisterous demonstrators carried signs reading "We are worth more!" Protesters staged a "die-in" in New York, blocking the entrance to a McDonald 's. Some carried signs reading, "We see greed."
As the ranks of service jobs swell and incomes stagnate, increasing numbers of minimum-wage earners are unable to make ends meet without government assistance, a situation labor advocates say poses an undue burden on employees and taxpayers.
A study released Monday by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, funded by the Service Employees International Union, reported that 56% of all state and federal public assistance now goes to working families. That adds up to $153 billion a year, including $25 billion in state funding.
"When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs," Ken Jacobs, chairman of the center and coauthor of the report, said in a statement. "This creates significant cost to the states."
At least one state is looking to address those costs t...
... middle of paper ...
...ise Institute. "If McDonald 's paid the cashier $30,000 a year, they would be losing a lot of money on their employees."
Strain said the tensions were understandable in a society where wages for most have barely budged while salaries for those at the top keep rising.
"The question isn 't if the concern is unreasonable; it 's how to address it," he said. "It 's in the best interests of society for labor markets to get paid roughly for what they bring in. If you 're a brain surgeon and making money for your hospital you should make more money than the person working in the hospital cafeteria."
Perhaps, but for Andrew Olson, that 's a bit academic. He found himself on the low-wage treadmill when he realized he couldn 't afford college and now wonders whether he can ever get off. He 'll soon be getting a small raise but says it 's unlikely to make much of a difference.
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