by Diane Muste, NYC
One of the biggest fast food companies, McDonald’s Corp. has already declared its full support to a lobbying campaign that is for the approval of the immigration reform proposed by the Democrats and that is being discussed now in Congress. This is not a coincidence for one of the cruelest exploiters of low-wage workers. In the last weeks, a story became public of a young worker who was arrested for asking at one official meeting of the company, in the presence of McDonald’s CEO, on why, after almost a decade working for them, she didn’t have one single penny added to her poor wage.
The particular example of McDonald’s is that of a company that clearly counts on the destruction of the working class’ working conditions, benefits, & labor rights. Inside the fast food restaurant, it’s possible to find a corporative service, “McResource Line”, which was created to suggest that workers of the company who are in social need or danger to apply for public benefits programs. Thus, they are openly maintaining their profitability as a corporation by shoving off the task of sustaining their workers onto American taxpayers through these programs that are the only thing that allows this workforce to survive and to continue being available for their use. Thereby, this corporation frees itself from any commitment with regards to workers’ living conditions or social rights.
In fact, it is not a coincidence that more than 50% of the families of fast food workers survive using one or more public assistance programs. When we compare that to 25% of the American working force as a whole, it’s clear how exploitative this industry really is. Besides that, one in five families of a fast-food worker are considered to be living under the official poverty threshold, and 43% of them have an income of twice the poverty threshold rate or below.
The support McDonald’s is willing to give to the new immigration reform is nothing more than an expression of its commitment to to maintaining the status quo – a status quo where we are witnessing the spread of a mass of young unemployed or underemployed workers, willing to accept any job in any conditions to survive. While the proposed immigration reform resolves some legal issues around resident status for a layer of the undocumented community, it in fact leaves intact the lack of labor rights and vulnerability to extreme workplace exploitation that has made the undocumented community so lucrative for American businesses up to now. There’s also the expectations that an immigration politics carried out in these terms only helps to maintain the level of acceptance among workers in U.S, who are left to compete with workers from other countries.