Protesters file into the restaurant, only to be quickly sent back outside
  • Protesters file into the restaurant, only to be quickly sent back outside
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Following up on a promise last month to ramp up actions against illegal labor practices in the fast food industry, activists descended upon a Taco Bell/Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Clairemont late Thursday morning, intent on confronting management over claims made by workers at the location that they were victims of wage theft.

Representatives from the progressive think tank Center on Policy Initiatives, religious leaders from the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, and a handful of food service workers gathered in the restaurant parking lot shortly before 11 a.m. They unveiled a new nationwide survey of 1088 fast food employees conducted by Hart Research that shows 89 percent of fast food industry employees claim to have been affected by wage theft, 60 percent in more ways than one. Wage theft is deemed to have occurred if an employee's time card has been altered to shave hours, if an employee is forced to work before clocking in or after clocking out, or if hours worked are shifted from one pay period to another in order to avoid paying earned overtime.

There was one notable absence at the event: the worker who was scheduled to directly confront his or her manager, fearing retaliation, backed out on the morning of the demonstration.

"It's difficult for people to stand up when they don't have the right to do so on the job," explained an organizer. "And this worker expressed fear about coming here to speak . . . that's one of the realities of life in this industry."

Protesters file into the restaurant, only to be quickly sent back outside

After a review of the issues concerning wage theft, the crowd of two dozen or so poured into the restaurant and demanded to speak with management regarding the wage theft allegations. The manager appeared surprised despite the ongoing demonstration outside, first demanded that the press, including a handful of television crews, be expelled before he would talk. The bulk of the demonstrators soon followed, leaving a handful of clergy from the Interfaith Committee to meet with the manager.

The group emerged a few minutes later with the news that no commitments to investigate the allegations or rectify problems were made, though "the manager listened very carefully" to the concerns expressed.

"I think it's important that we acknowledge that [the shift manager confronted] is under so much pressure from above," said Reverend Lee Hill after the impromptu meeting. "I looked into his eyes and I could see tears welling up, because he's unsure what to do based on his moral values and based on the pressures that are there to do his job."

Widespread labor-backed protests began last August with the rollout of the "Fight for 15" campaign, which has the lofty goal of raising base wages in the food service industry to $15 per hour nationwide.

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Comments

shirleyberan April 5, 2014 @ 11:32 a.m.

I've had to work off the clock and not complain about it. Of course this happens, and worse. A livable minimum wage is long overdue.

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jnojr April 7, 2014 @ 9:14 a.m.

Minimum wage is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE a "living wage".

Want more? Earn more. Learn how to do something more useful than flipping burgers.

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Visduh April 5, 2014 @ 5:39 p.m.

That "manager" may also be a victim of the very practices being protested. Just because he is in charge of a shift in a taco joint, doesn't mean that he's abusive or part of the wage theft. More likely, he's just another working stiff himself, at the mercy of the franchise owner. Just what Robert Dean is trying to say is unclear to me. A combined Taco Bell/KFC is not run by the big public corporation. It is run by a franchisee, an independent business, and therein lies the opportunity for abuse.

1

Gorgor April 7, 2014 @ 10:44 a.m.

Taco Bell "Beef" is: Less than 36% Beef, Water, Seasoning [Isolated Oat Product, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Oats (Wheat), Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Spices, Maltodextrin, Soybean Oil (Anti-Dusting Agent), Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), #Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavors, Yeast, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphate

Sand

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