Tax Day 2015: Protesting low wages and taxpayer subsidies of low-wage work
Today is the day your taxes are due (in case you hadn’t noticed) and I’ve been collecting items on how tax dollars are used to subsidize businesses that rely on low-wage workers.
1. Fight for $15 is mobilizing fast-food and other low-wage workers to walk off their jobs today in what the group says is the most widespread mobilization ever by U.S. workers seeking higher pay. It expects protests in “more than 100 cities, in 35 countries, on six continents, from Sao Paolo to Tokyo.” USA Today has the story on it.
2. The New York Times featured people who are working, but still need public assistance to get buy (and they qualify for it).
Yet these same people also are on public assistance — relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short.
And they are not alone. Nearly three-quarters of the people helped by programs geared to the poor are members of a family headed by a worker, according to a new study by the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California. As a result, taxpayers are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald’s and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses.
Families in which at least one member is working now make up the vast majority of those enrolled in major public-assistance programs like Medicaid and food stamps, according to a new study. It’s a “hidden cost” of low-wage work, researchers say, and it costs taxpayers about $153 billion a year.
4. The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) just released a report, Picking up the NRA’s Tab: The Public Cost of Low Wages in the Restaurant Industry.
The report’s key findings:
- Nearly half of the families of full-service restaurant workers are enrolled in one or more public-assistance programs.
- The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the full-service restaurant industry is $9,434,067,497 per year.
- Tipped restaurant workers live in poverty at 2.5 times the rate of the overall workforce.
- Restaurant workers as a whole experience poverty at a rate over twice that of the overall workforce – 20.9%.
- Large full-service restaurant companies like Darden and DineEquity pay their workers so little that many of the employees of these companies rely on taxpayer-funded programs.
- The taxpayer cost of a single Olive Garden is $196,970 annually.
ROC United is spearheading ‘One Fair Wage,’ a multi-state and national campaign to raise the lower, tipped minimum wage–currently $2.13 per hour–to 100% of the regular minimum wage.
Now, how about setting the minimum wage at $15 per hour….