KCRA Sacramento, November 13, 2013
Shonda Roberts, who works at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Oakland, told state lawmakers on Wednesday that the minimum wage she receives at her job is not enough to support her family.
"I get paid $8 an hour," she said. "Minimum hours, I work a week of 16 and that's not enough to take care of your basic needs. That's why we have to depend on MediCal and food stamps to provide food."
Roberts is not alone.
A new study by the UC Berkely Center for Labor Research discovered that most fast-food employees, even those working full time, need government help.
The government aid totals $717 million every year.
"We found that of the workers who are working 40 hours a week or more, still 52 percent of the families are relying on public assistance to make ends meet," testified Ken Jacobs, chair of Berkeley's Center for Labor Research.
Restaurant workers packed the Capitol on Wednesday for hearings on California's fast-food industry.
Many of them demanded a raise of California's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
But the California Restaurant Association said doing so would result in worker layoffs and higher prices for consumers.
Restaurant owners said they often provide the first opportunity for inexperienced job seekers to gain employment – people whom others would not hire.
"We're hiring people with tattoos on their neck," Jot Condie said.
Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association added, " We're hiring people with pink hair. We're hiring people that have never had a job in their life and they are looking for a break."
Now it's the restaurant industry seeking a break from further rules and regulations, in a state already known as one of the toughest to do business.
California's minimum wage climbs to $9 an hour next July, then jumps to $10 an hour in 2016.