Nancy Salgado has worked at McDonald’s for 10 years and struggles to support her children with a wage that keeps her under the poverty line.
So she called the fast-food behemoth’s employee hotline, known as McResources, in hopes of finding help making ends meet.
But instead of getting any company assistance, the McDonald’s operator suggested Salgado try food pantries, federal food stamps and Medicaid.
The conversation – which was recorded and released to the public Wednesday by labor advocacy group Low Pay Is Not Ok – comes as attention is growing around the taxpayer burden of so many low-paid workers in the fast-food industry.
A report released earlier this month written by economists at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that more than half of families of fast-food workers receive some form of public assistance, costing the nation $7 billion a year.
Fast-food workers earn an average of $8.69 an hour and often work fewer than 40 hours a week, which qualifies them for food stamps and Medicaid, the study said.
The recording of Salgado’s phone call was edited and could not be independently verified.
“This video is not an accurate portrayal of the resource line as this is very obviously an edited video,” McDonald’s said in a written statement. “The fact is that the McResource Line is intended to be a free, confidential service to help employees and their families get answers to a variety of questions or provide resources on a variety of topics including housing, child care, transportation, grief, elder care, education and more.”
Fast-food employees have been organizing walkouts and strikes for more than a year, calling for $15 hourly wages and union representation
At $8.25, Salgado makes a dollar more an hour than the minimum wage – a massive hardship for the Chicago resident and mother of two.
Salgado was in the news earlier this month after she was arrested for interrupting a speech by McDonald’s president of U.S. operations Jeff Stratton in Chicago.
“I’m a single mother of two. It’s really hard for me to feed my two kids and struggle day to day,” she shouted at Statton shortly before being escorted away.
“Designed for employees who need financial, housing, childcare or other help, McResources operators actually direct those who call to apply for public assistance like food stamps and Medicaid,” the SEIU United Service Workers West said in a written statement. “Rather than taking responsibility to pay its workers a wage they can live on, the hotline shows McDonald’s relies on taxpayers to pick up the slack.”