The Republican candidate for attorney general in Wisconsin, Brad Schimel, recently explained to supporters that this whole minimum wage debate wouldn’t be happening if those poors could just get their lives together:
I want every one of our neighbors to have a job again, a well-paid job, so we don’t have to argue about minimum wage for someone working at Burger King. Let’s get them a real job.
A real job. Guess the grueling hours fast-food workers spend earning poverty wages must be imaginary? Or that the daily frustrations they face attempting to provide for their families in a system that is rigged against them is a delusion?
What is very real is that $200 billion is grossed by the fast-food industry annually and that the CEO of McDonald’s received a $13.8 million salary in 2012. And yet, the industry can’t seem to find a way to pay its 3 million workers—the majority of whom are women—a livable wage. More than half the families of full-time fast-food workers rely on public assistance.
Schimel’s flippancy towards the plight of fast-food workers is especially charged because on Nov. 4, voters in 13 Wisconsin counties will decide on referendums to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. The change could make a considerable difference in the lives of low-wage workers in the state, and put Wisconsin in accordance with its own state law that dictates all workers must make a living wage:
Every wage paid or agreed to be paid by any employer to any employee…shall be not less than a living wage… [It must be enough to] permit an employee to maintain herself or himself in minimum comfort, decency, physical and moral well-being.
Someone who doesn’t want to see this happen is the state’s own Republican governor, Scott Walker, who declared $7.25 is a living wage after 100 workers filed a complaint with his administration for breaking the above statute. Also, back in January when he was interviewed about the federal minimum wage, he said “the best thing we can do to help people who are unemployed or underemployed is to fix Obamacare.”
Needless to say, if you live in Wisconsin and you care about fair wages, please make sure you show up to the polls on Nov. 4 to vote in these county referendums that could improve the quality of life for countless fast-food workers.