Fast Food Nation

Many of the workers involved were minors and recent

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Unformatted text preview: lar would add about two cents to the cost of a fast food hamburger. In 1938, at the height of the Great Depression, Congress passed legislation to prevent employers from exploiting the nation’s most vulnerable workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act established the first federal minimum wage. It also imposed limitations on child labor. And it mandated that employees who work more than forty hours a week be paid overtime wages for each additional hour. The overtime wage was set at a minimum of one and a half times the regular wage. Today few employees in the fast food industry qualify for overtime — and even fewer are paid it. Roughly 90 percent of the nation’s fast food workers are paid an hourly wage, provided no benefits, and scheduled to work only as needed. Crew members are employed “at will.” If the restaurant’s busy, they’re kept longer than usual. If business is slow, they’re sent home early. Managers try to make sure that each worker is employed less than forty hours a week, thereby avoiding any overtime payments. A typical McDonald’s or Burger King...
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