State senators and representatives will hear from workers and an economist about the high number of fast-food workers forced to rely on public assistance at a town hall at 5:30 pm, Nov. 21, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, 1531 W. Vliet St. The town hall comes on the heels of a recent report from the University of California, Berkeley that showed that low wages paid by the $200-billion fast food industry put the annual taxpayer tab for public assistance programs at nearly $7 billion nationally and $166 million in Wisconsin.
“These huge and hugely profitable corporations can afford to pay their workers more,” said Rep. Christine Sinicki, who will attend the event. “Public dollars are much better spent on roads and schools than on shoring up corporate profits.”
At the town hall, officials will review what the Berkeley researchers called “staggering” findings about the extent to which Wisconsinites and all Americans are forced to cover fast-food workers’ food, healthcare and other basic needs because the jobs in the industry just don’t pay enough.
The researchers reported that over half of families of frontline fast-food workers are enrolled in public programs, a rate more than twice that of the overall workforce. The median wage for core frontline workers is $8.69 an hour. Only 13 percent of these jobs provide health benefits.
State Rep. Mandela Barnes and Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, will host the event.