Fast food workers live in fear and Canada offers reparations

by Anum Hussain in January 14th, 2022

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Fast food workers live in fear amidst safety crisis

Tue Dec 14

Ever wonder why that McDonald’s nearby suddenly stopped operating late nights? It might be for safety reasons. While it’s no secret that fast food restaurants are often a hub for crime, a new report reveals the extent, with some calling it a “hidden crisis”. The report analyzed 911 calls from nine populous California cities and found:

  • Harassment is common. In a three year span, 77,000+ calls were made — and that only counts what gets reported. One McDonald’s in Santa Monica experienced such frequent 911 calls that the city forced them to shut down, reopening later with reduced hours.
  • Assaults are violent. Workers have been choked, grabbed, and hit with various products. One pregnant worker had a soda thrown on her over a mistaken food order; another saw a customer threaten another with a knife — the worker was later instructed by her manager not to report the incident.
  • COVID has worsened the crisis, increasing negative customer interactions by 53%. On Christmas Day, one customer upset about mask requirements at a Panda Express jumped on the counter and threw food at employees while cursing at them.

All those 911 calls cost money, too — and taxpayers are footing the bill. As companies continue to leave employees without training or tools to ease tense situations, more altercations turn violent, requiring emergency services to intervene. This burden is especially heavy for communities of color who experience higher rates of violence and thus 911 calls.

So what can be done? While McDonald’s — one of four companies investigated alongside Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and Jack-in-the-Box — plans to implement global standards this year that systemizes incident reporting and training, experts recommend more. The authors of the report (the same group fighting for a $15 federal minimum wage) recommend that fast food restaurants hire security personnel, reduce hours of operation, and provide safety training and resources for workers dealing with trauma.

Canada pledges compensation for children abused by federal services

Wed Jan 5

Canada’s largest Indigenous community is marking a win after years of fighting — and decades of suffering. The journey begins in 1876, when a treaty was struck between several First Nation leaders and the Crown (England's monarchs are still Canada’s head of state) to protect reserve land for exclusive use by the First Nation, the original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada. In exchange for title to Indigenous land, Canada would also set up certain social services such as schooling and medicine.

But the resulting child services were underfunded, operating on discriminatory policies up until as late as 1996. In absence of sufficient funding for the services on the reserve, children were taken from their families and out of their communities to attend off-reserve boarding schools. At these schools, the First Nation children were forced to abandon their native language and convert to Christianity in the name of assimilation. They also often suffered physical and sexual abuse.

The lasting trauma from these experiences led activists to begin seeking reparations 15 years ago. While the federal government admitted to their abuse in 2016 after being found guilty for discrimination in under-funding First Nation services, the government pushed back on the court’s order to compensate those affected. But scrutiny of the government’s intent to appeal only escalated recently when over 1,000 unmarked graves were found at the former schools where First Nation children were sent.

So finally, Canada has agreed to $40 billion CAD for hundreds of thousands of First Nation children. Half these funds will be direct payouts of $40,000 to each child in the on-reserve system after 2006 while the other half will be invested in reforming the Indigenous child welfare system over the next five years.

Below The Fold Bytes

Seattle’s Soda Tax

A number of public health efforts across the U.S. have attempted a tax on sugary drinks in order to reduce sugar sales (and therefore consumer intake). Recently, an analysis more thorough than ever before shows a 23% drop in total amount of sugar sold in the two years after the 2018 tax was implemented. Even considering soda substitutions, there was still a net reduction in grams of sugar sold by 19%, signaling effectiveness for other cities. >> Read More

Being Poor (at Math) 

Previous studies have shown correlations between being poor and not understanding numbers. But a more recent study reveals how this plays out with stable incomes, showing that being bad with numbers can make it difficult to make ends meet regardless of income. Those better with numbers struggle less on similar incomes. The analysis also found that staying in school longer is related to stronger numerical ability. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

While safety standards get ironed out, it’s disheartening to hear of the suffering fast food workers endure while making the bare minimum. The Fight for $15 movement has an active petition that demands a $15 minimum wage from congress. Follow Fight for $15 on their site and social media to stay up to date with the latest efforts, wins, and more.

This Week's Sources

  • The Counter: Analyzing 911 calls 1 month old | 11 minutes long
  • Food&Wine: COVID worsens safety crisis 8 days old | 4 minutes long
  • Newsweek: Panda Express customer 8 days old | 4 minutes long
  • France24: Canada pledges reparations 9 days old | 3 minutes long
  • BBC: Abuse towards FN children 1 month old | 4 minutes long
  • BBC: 215 child graves uncovered 6 months old | 16 minutes long

ASCII-ing About the News

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I always be-leaf-ed Canada would do the right thing!

Art Credit: Joan G. Stark

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