Fast Food Workers Share Plight With City Hall

Local fast food workers piled in to City Hall on Thursday afternoon to air their grievances about wage theft and substandard living wages. Kshama Sawant and her supporters clung to “$15/hr” signs at the back of City Hall as five fast food employees lined up to testify about their lackluster work conditions. Councilmembers Nick Licata, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Mike O’Brien, and Sally Bagshaw all sat in to hear the stories of local fast food workers who had been burned, cut, poked by needles, and robbed of their money by management. Many were struggling with their bills, figuring out how to support their children, and how to afford transportation to get to work.

The following are their testimonies:

Aaron Larson — Burger King

“After I took this job may of 2012, I had to move in with my grandparents just to get by. I walk three and a half miles to work, I can’t even afford the bus anymore. I just bought walking shoes and have had to go on my way. I get about $100 a month after rent even with my grandparents. I don’t want to keep working there, I want to go back to school and contribute more to society. After we striked, the next day, our district manager was fishing for a way to get our store manager fired.”

Caroline Durocher — Taco Bell/Subway “Nearly every day I was forced to work off the clock. Our manager would take us off the clock and I ended up working 32 hours when I was getting paid for 27. That’s about $1,000 I was losing. I couldn’t afford to take the bus, so I would walk eight miles up Aurora to work. Now I work at Subway. I have worked there for three weeks, and my schedule changes so often that I don’t know how to get another job. We are told not to take breaks. ‘We don’t get breaks at Subway’ my manager told me. I don’t even get a 30 minute break. All my coworkers tell me to check my pay stubs to make sure you aren’t getting cut hours, it happens all the time. I feel like a large part of it would be educating people on what wage theft is. But nobody wants to make a complaint because they are afraid of losing their jobs.”

Larita McFall — Qdoba

“I was frying chips and the oil bubbled up too high and I got burned on my face. It blistered during the hour, and I told my manager about it, and she said, ‘Oh, you’ll be okay.’ I feel like the management didn’t care about the worker’s safety. One of my coworkers was looking for a Band-Aid, and there was no first aid kit anywhere. That just shows how much they care about the workers there. I was stressed to the point that I felt ill, and I threw up in my mouth at work.”

Ryan Parker — Wendy’s

“I’ve personally found needles in the trash in Wendy’s, there have been people at work who got poked. I don’t feel like running the risk of contracting HIV in a minimum wage job makes sense. I just found out my lease is up in two weeks, and I can’t manage that with all the bills I have to pay. I don’t understand how these people are working so hard but aren’t able to move forward. I’ve had the same problem with the grease buildup on the grill, I was lucky enough to shut my eye before the grease got my actual eyeball. That stuff happens all the time, you just kind of grin and bare it.”

Juanita Porter — Taco Bell

“I’ve been working in low wage job for 16 years, and I’m a single mother of three. My whole entire paycheck goes to my rent and its still not enough to pay what I owe. Part of the reason I am in this situation is because Taco Bell isn’t paying me for all the hours I work. Last week I clocked out and my check stub said 71 hours, but they only paid me for 43 hours. They tried to tell me I didn’t work 71 hours because of the computer. There have been other times where they claimed I didn’t work all the hours I worked and they didn’t pay me what they owed me. There have been 11 times I’ve counted where you don’t get breaks. You only get breaks when the auditing people come.”

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