Tag Archive | Subway

SPECIAL MAY DAY EDITION | Volume One: Fast Food

 photo ScreenShot2014-05-01at24014PM_zps75fdbc29.png
Daniel X. O’Neil

The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back
Sarah Kendzior | Medium.com

At 24, Patrick is a fast food veteran. Over the past eight years, he has worked at seven different franchises. He started out at America’s Incredible Pizza Company at the NASCAR Speedpark in St. Louis, Missouri, the city where he grew up and still lives. He thought a fast food job would keep him on his feet while he figured out his life. He did not know it would become his life. Now he is captive to the hustle, always moving and going nowhere.

“You pick up something easy to get stable,” he says. “And on your quest to get stable, you end up getting stuck. You either fall or you stay where you are. Or you fall staying where you are.”

How One Protest Turned Into a Fast-Food-Worker Movement
Kristina Bravo | TakePart | 4 April 2014

“So we started talking to workers at fast-food places and asking them if they wanted to organize for higher pay,” New York Communities for Change’s Jonathan Westin said in an emailed statement. “There was not a worker we talked to who wouldn’t sign onto the campaign.”

The movement became known as Fast Food Forward. It held its first citywide protest in 2012, and the movement has since spread across the country. The federal minimum wage still stagnates at $7.25 per hour, a rate that hasn’t budged since 2009. But a lot of progress has been made on the state level. As of Jan. 1, 2014, twenty-one states exceed the federal minimum wage; others are expected to follow suit. Here’s a look back at the American fast-food workers’ fight for livable pay.

Fast-Food CEOs Make 1,200 Times As Much As One of Their Workers—and They Want to Keep It That Way
Zoë Carpenter | The Nation | 24 April 2014

David Novak is the chief executive of Yum! Brands, the parent company that runs Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC. Last year, while Yum! Brands and other restaurant companies lobbied against raising the minimum wage, Novak made at least $22 million—more than 1,000 times what the average fast-food worker makes in a year. In return for paying him so much, Yum! got a tax break.

The National Restaurant Association, which represents Yum! and other restaurant companies, is expected to launch a lobbying blitz in Washington next week against a minimum wage increase. For years the restaurant industry has fought to keep the wage floor low, all while rewarding its CEOs with increasingly large pay packages. As a result, the food industry is now the most unequal sector in the American economy. Thanks to a tax loophole that encourages companies to raise “performance pay” for executives, taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the imbalance.

While inequality between low-level workers and CEOs manifests in all areas of the economy, a new report from Demos concludes that the gap within the food industry is exceptional. Between 2009 and 2012 the CEO-to-worker pay ratio in food services and accommodation was about twice as large as most other sectors. In 2012, fast-food CEOs earned 1,200 times as much as the average employee.

 photo ScreenShot2014-05-01at23950PM_zpsf0f1f3ec.png
Daniel X. O’Neil
Fast Food Pulls a Fast One
Michael Winship | BillMoyers.com | 29 April 2014

Maybe you’ve even read about the wage theft lawsuits that have been filed against McDonald’s and Taco Bell, or the recent settlements in New York State against McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza that have led to payments to employees of more than $2 million.

But, much in the way that Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century lays out the hard data backing up everything we’ve believed about the reality of vast income inequality in America, a trio of new reports confirms with solid statistics what we’ve suspected about the fast-food industry — that those in charge are gobbling up the profits voraciously while their workers are forced into public assistance. What’s more, our tax dollars are subsidizing both the fast-food poor who need the help and the fast-food rich who don’t.

First, a recent data brief from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) notes, “Lower-wage industries accounted for 22 percent of job losses during the recession, but 44 percent of employment growth over the past four years. Today, lower-wage industries employ 1.85 million more workers than at the start of the recession.” In other words, as The New York Times more succinctly put it, “The poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones.”

Subway leads fast food industry in underpaying workers
Annalyn Kurtz | CNN Money | 1 May 2014

McDonald’s gets a lot of bad press for its low pay. But there’s an even bigger offender when it comes to fast food companies underpaying their employees: Subway.

Individual Subway franchisees have been found in violation of pay and hour rules in more than 1,100 investigations spanning from 2000 to 2013, according to a CNNMoney analysis of data collected by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Hamburgled: Nine Out Of Ten Fast Food Workers Have Experienced Wage Theft
Alan Pyke | Think Progress | 2 April 2014

A new poll finds that 89 percent of fast food workers nationwide say they experience wage theft. That means that nine out of every ten fast food workers doesn’t get the pay they earned, according Hart Research Associates’ findings. The most common violation, workers report, is off-the-clock work. About a quarter of those surveyed had worked over 40 hours in a week on some occasions, and half of that group said they didn’t get overtime pay for those hours.

The poll coincides with testimonials from two former McDonald’s managers who say these sorts of illegal labor practices were routine in their stores for years.

Advertisements

Americans in Cars, Eating Badly: Scale and Scope

Just on the heels of a post on the potential for better convenience and grab and go foods to improve health outcomes for Americans, comes news via Marion Nestle that Subway is prioritizing moving more vegetables out the door. They are specifically targeting the campaign at kids.

This morning, Subway is announcing that as part of its commitment to Let’s Move!’s efforts to reverse childhood obesity, the chain will put $41 million into encouraging kids to “pile on the veggies.”

Subway says it will:

+ Run a fun campaign to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.
+ Set nutrition standards for marketing to kids.
+ Strengthen its “already nutritious” children’s menu.
+ Put signs on doors that say “Playtime powered by veggies.”
+ Do a video collaboration with Disney’s Muppets to encourage piling on the veggies.
+ Provide kids’ meals with lowfat or nonfat milk or water as the default.

I could, but won’t, nitpick over the nutrition standards. Let’s just say they are a start.

But I love it that Subway is focusing on foods—veggies, apples, and no sodas unless parents specifically order them.

And I think “pile on the veggies” is one terrific slogan.

This is especially heartening because:
A. Low vegetable consumption is the number one problem in the American diet. (or tied for number one with high sugar consumption)
B. In terms of marginal improvement to convenience foods, increasing whole grains and decreasing sugar are fairly easy. Increasing vegetables is much harder.

This is exactly what I was getting at in that previous post:

Convenience and fast foods are a less than ideal vehicle for increasing vegetable consumption. Frozen dinners aren’t so hard, but the central issue is grab and go foods. What I would love to see are whole grain, veggie packed ploughman’s pies; chickpea flour, veggie samosas; multigrain grilled vegetable burritos; and footlong grilled veggie sandwiches on hearty rolls. It’s not that hard to pile vegetables on a whole grain pizza and garnish it with a healthy dusting of chopped herbs and arugula.

Marginal improvements don’t get a lot of love in the food movement. Tom Philpott stopped by to comment:

. . . But this—”Philpott’s agreement with the central premise was buried at the end and only briefly mentioned”—doesn’t quite get at my critique, which was that a kinder, gentler junk food industry is a necessary, but probably not sufficient, response to our dirt-related health problems. Maybe I’m wrong—maybe hyper-processed food can be tweaked in a way such that it keeps people healthy. I doubt it, because i don’t think we have figured out precisely how such a diversity of whole-food diets—ie, Mediterranean, traditional Japanese, Inuit, etc—keep people healthy. Precisely engineering effective nutrition into hyper-processed diet would seem to require knowledge we don’t have. So sure, stop packing so much sugar into drinks and remove known health ruiners like partially hydrogenated fat. But I’m not sure engineers for McDonalds or Kraft really know how to keep people healthy.

I agree with this but also think it has three problems. It ignores my reframing from junk food to convenience/grab and go food. It under emphasizes the important of a both/and approach. I agree that “a kinder, gentler junk food industry” is not sufficient. It doesn’t need to be. There huge numbers of people who will only be only be reached through these kinds of small marginal changes. But in public health those can add up to significant effects. Some smaller group of people will see larger improvements in health by increasing the number of home cooked meals and shifting to proven traditional diets. That’s important too. But don’t underestimate how the resources required to nudge big changes among smaller groups of people versus small changes among big groups of people.

I’ve been an instructor for Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program and for The North Hartford Community Kitchen. I’ve also been the executive chef at a retirement community, which I’ve talked about before. As an instructor I worked intensively for a few hours a week with a handful of people, hoping to help improve their eating habits. With Share Our Strength we worked with six students two hours a week for six weeks. With planning and transportation I invested three hours per student. With The North Portland Community Kitchen, I believe we did sixteen students for sixteen weeks, so the math worked out about the same, except that I think we helped more people make bigger changes over that longer period of time. In a few instances I know we helped a few individuals make some big changes.

At the retirment community, I simply made a decision to improve the eating habits of 200 people. I had to do a little selling of the program to the community and a little work to retrain my staff, but at the end of the day, I changed the eating habits of 200 people and I barely lifted a finger. They were suddenly eating mixed greens instead ice berg lettuce. They were eating fish twice a week instead of once. Potatoes twice a week instead of five times, replaced by wild rice, yams, and barley pilaf. All the flour in their baked goods was suddenly whole wheat. 10 grain hot cereal instead of Cream of Wheat. More fruit in their desserts, yogurt with live active cultures in the snack room. Small and not so small changes multiplied by 200.

Being an instructor was more rewarding, but I believe I achieved bigger results through those institutional changes. It’s a question of scale and scope. As a cooking and nutrition instructor I was better positioned to address the scale of the issues that people faced. As an institutional chef, I could address the scope of the problem. In my little corner of the world I was making small, significant changes at the population level.

Scale and scope. Consider. In 2010, Subway had 23,850 locations doing $452,000 per location for a total of $10 billion in sales. Meanwhile, in 2013 there were 8,144 farmer’s markets in the US with total sales estimated at $1 billion. Subway alone has triple the locations doing ten times the sales as farmer’s markets. And don’t forget that those 23,850 locations are open all year, seven days a week, day and night. Those 8,144 farmer’s markets are only open a few hours a week, a few months a year. Not only will an increase in Subway’s fruit and vegetable sales impact more people, it will impact those people who are less likely to actively make the changes on their own. The changes that get the food movement’s motor running like more farmer’s markets are more likely to reach the most motivated people.

Focusing on scale or scope is how a lot of people end up talking past each other. I believe the Freedman was addressing questions of scale, while Philpott was focused on scope. The food movement does a good job thinking about scope. Their weakness is in thinking about scale.

I know that comparing farmer’s markets to Subway is unfair and I’m all for seeing more farmer’s markets in low income neighborhoods. But let’s face it, when Michelle Obama moved to pressing Big Food for incremental changes, she was just using Willie Sutton’s logic. When it bears fruit (yes, pun) it’s hard to argue with that logic.

Sources

Let’s Move!’s latest move: Subway will “Pile on the Veggies”

Marion Nestle | Food Politics | 23 January 2014

American’s in Cars, Eating Badly
Marc Brazeau | REALFOOD.ORG | 16 January 2014

Feedback Loops, Institutional Reform and the Pitfalls of a Second Best World
Marc Brazeau | REALFOOD.ORG | 22 October 2013


The QSR Top 50

Sam Ochs | QSR Magazine | August 2011


Farmer’s Markets

The Agricultural Resource Marketing Center