Labor activists allege wage theft at fast food chains

03/18/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: McDonald's, wage theft, minimum wage, labor unions, labor


Labor activists have been rallying for higher wages and an end to wage theft which includes not paying employees for work completed off the clock.

photo by Janelle Irwin December, 2013

Labor activists in Tampa are taking aim at fast food restaurants they say aren’t paying employees fairly. The debate over minimum wage is still raging, but now workers are worried about something else – wage theft. Yves Higgins is a former part time employee at McDonald's.

“Now I don’t have a way to help my mother pay her bills and it looks like our water is going to be cut off.”

That’s because he says the McDonald's at the corner of Bearss and Florida Avenue didn’t pay him for about five hours of work.

“I had went into work one day without a belt and they told me that I’m not supposed to be working without a belt, but yet they let me work anyway and those hours that I worked for I didn’t get paid for.”

Higgins was one of several workers who protested at the fast food restaurant this morning. The group, led by local labor unions, is demanding that giants like McDonald's stop letting workers perform duties off the clock. Higgins says the belt incident wasn’t the only time he has been refused pay when he should have gotten it and he suspects he’s not the only one.

“Some of my off days they were telling me to come up and have meetings and, you know, I wasn’t getting paid for that either.”

Actions are planned in cities across the country picketing fast food giants for wage theft. Higgins has not taken legal action yet, but seven other lawsuits have been filed for wage theft. A spokesperson for McDonald's wrote in a statement that allegations in those suits are being investigated.

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