A House Democrat who joined striking fast-food workers in Illinois yesterday said the American economy needs doubled wages for the restaurant workers.
“This gets to the heart of our economic problem in this country which is income inequality. And yes, those arches are made of gold for people like CEO Donald Thompson who makes over $13.7 million in his pay package last year. But I met fast food workers today at McDonald’s who have been working there for a decade and still making $8.50 an hour,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC.
“You cannot live on that kind of wage, and they end up turning to the government for support. So we end up subsidizing Donald Thompson and the profits that McDonald’s,” she added.
Schakowsky said the pay of private entities to workers who choose to take a job there is Congress’ business because “this is an entire industry that is paying poverty wages in this country.”
“Thousands and tens of thousands, maybe millions of people who simply can’t make it on those kinds of wages, and I think that forming a union, getting $15 an hour, which makes a modest income of about $31,000 a year, if you get to work full time, is something that is a proper demand,” she continued.
“And actually these workers are acting — are going to the employers, are going to these companies. I’m standing with them because I think we need it for our economy. If they got paid more, we’re going to see millions of jobs created because there are going to be consumers in the marketplace.”
As far as what Congress can do to compel a higher wage, Schakowsky suggested starting at the executive branch.
“The president could with an executive order do something about the low-wage workers, 2 million of them, that are contract workers for the federal government. That would be a good start,” she said.
“That would be, I think, a very good signal that we don’t think those poverty wages that are paid to millions and millions of workers across the country are good for our economy and certainly not good for those families.”