After 10 years of working at a McDonald’s location in Chicago, earning the state minimum wage of $8.25, Nancy Salgado recently called her employer’s McResources line to ask for help. With two kids to feed and no healthcare, she was desperately in need of a long-awaited raise and benefits.
In a video released by Low Pay Is Not OK, one of the union-supported groups working involved with the on-going series of one-day fast-food strikes, the McResources employee is heard giving Salgado plenty of advice. Sure, she could get more money and health care for her family—the federal government would supply it for her. She asks Salgado if she’s on the Supplemental Nutritional Benefit Program, she asks if she receives Medicaid. “Let me find the number that you can call in Chicago to find help with all of your questions,” the McResources woman says. Which is to say, the answers to questions about low wages, no upward mobility and lack of benefits can only be answered by the social safety net, not McDonald’s.
Salon’s Josh Eidelson, who had access to the entire 15-minute phone conversation (Salgado starts the call by saying she’s going to record it so she can share the information with her sister), spoke with the veteran employee about the conversation.
“It was really, really upsetting,” Salgado told Salon Wednesday, “knowing that McDonald’s knows that they don’t pay us enough, and we have to rely on this.” Noting that McDonald’s was “a billionaire company,” she asked, “how can they not afford to pay us?”
Following the audio from the call, the animated text in the video reads, “McDonald’s doesn’t want to pay its workers more. McDonald’s wants you to pay its workers more.” Indeed, the recent UC Berkeley report on the societal costs of the low wages paid to fast-food workers says that 52% of the industry’s workforce is on some form of public assistance—amounting to $7 billion spent helping this growing demographic make ends meet.