84 Percent of NYC Fast Food Workers Report Wage Theft

The report arrives in the midst of a national movement in the industry for better wages and the right to unionize.

Photo Credit: AFP

An alarming 84 percent of New York City fast food workers say their employers withheld wages the workers were entitled to, according to a report released Wednesday by Fast Food Forward, the group responsible for industry strikes in the city last month.

Researchers surveyed 500 of the New York City’s fast food workers, and discovered that more than four-in-five reported wage theft from their employers in the previous year. The Nation’s Josh Eidelson breaks down what this means:

“Wage theft” is a term popularized by activists and advocates over the past decade to describe a wide range of ways in which companies fail to pay employees the wages they’re legally owed. The Fast Food Forward report identifies several types of violations as prevalent in the city’s fast food industry: employees working, without pay, before or after their shift; employees working overtime without being paid time-and-a-half; employees working during their breaks or not receiving breaks; and delivery employees not being reimbursed for expenses like gasoline or safety equipment.

The report comes in the midst of a national movement among fast food workers calling for better wages and the right to unionize. In recent weeks fast food and retailer workers have staged strikes with those demands in five major cities, including New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Milwaukee.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman is investigating fast food restaurant owners for allegations of wage theft.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

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