Economy

84 Percent Of New York Fast Food Workers Report Being Victims Of Wage Theft

More than four-in-five of fast food workers in New York City say they have been victims of wage theft or work hour abuse at their jobs, according to a survey released today from Fast Food Forward, an advocacy group that has been aligned with striking restaurant workers across the city.

Workers at New York City fast food chains have staged multiple one-day strikes in recent months, first in November and most recently in April. The strikes have centered on claims of low-wages, the lack of health and retirement benefits, and their inability to organize unions without intimidation from employers, and the survey’s numbers lend credence to their wage claims:

More than 8-in-10 employees (84%) report being victims of wage theft over the course of the last year; 66% report at least two abuses, 45% report at least three, and more than thirty percent of employees (31%) report being victims of at least four of these practices. Specifically:

• 36% of workers report being required to work while off the clock
• 32% of cashiers report being required to pay their employer if their register is short
• 30% of those who have worked 40+ hours in a week report they have not always received pay of time-and-a-half for overtime hours.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, recently launched an investigation into the practices of fast food owners and their parent corporations, the New York Times reported today. Schneiderman’s investigation is looking into claims made evident by the Fast Food Forward survey, including whether employers paid workers less than the minimum wage and failed to pay overtime. Schneiderman has previously brought claims against more than 20 companies for labor violations, according to the Times.

The abuses, however, aren’t limited to New York. Since workers there launched the first round of strikes in November, they have been joined by fast food and retail workers in Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, and, most recently, Milwaukee, where workers held a one-day walkout Wednesday.