Wisconsin attorney general candidate says fast food workers should get a “real job”


Brad Schimel, the Republican candidate for Attorney General in Wisconsin, is just sick and tired of debating about the mininum wage. He told supporters at a Milwaukee County Republicans party:

“I want every one of our neighbors to have a job again, a well-paid job, so we don’t have to argue about minimum wage for someone working at Burger King. Let’s get them a real job.”

This oh-so-tedious minumum wage debate is happening because in November, voters in many Wisconsin counties will vote on “advisary referendums” to demand their lawmakers raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Actually, under Wisconsin law, all workers must already be paid a living wage. Low-wage workers have been telling Gov. Scott Walker that $7.25 is not a living wage for awhile now–a living wage for a single parent in Madison would actually be $21/hour–but he has declared it so.

In fact, Walker recently said he doesn’t think the minimum wage “serves a purpose” at all, saying he wants to create jobs that pay “two or three times that.” The sentiment expressed by Schimel and Walker is a common conservative talking point–and a huge scam. The idea that instead of ensuring that low-wage jobs give people enough money to pay rent and fucking eat we should just get them better jobs is nothing more than a way for conservatives to pretend they care about poor people by ignoring reality. Let’s talk about some real facts…

It’s a real fact that there about 3 million fast food workers in this country, and there is no indication that Americans’ love of fries and processed burgers will wane anytime soon.

It’s a real fact that few of these workers are teenagers “flipping burgers” as a summer job–two thirds are women, disproportionately women of color, and their medium age is 28.

It’s a real fact that these workers are usually supporting kids, often by themselves, with their apparently not-real fast food jobs.

It’s a real fact that minumum wage workers in Wisconsin are currently relying on food pantries, pawning their possessions, losing their homes, dropping out of school, skimping on medical care, and struggling to afford the bus fare to even get to their non-real jobs.

It is a real fact that the cost of living–rent, food, clothes, health care, school supplies, etc.–must by paid in real money, regardless of whether or not the job you have is a “real” one according to Brad Schimel.

But perhaps that shouldn’t be the case. Since, as far as I can tell, the Wisconsin Republican leadership’s plan for fixing poverty is apparently installing robot cashiers at Burger King and conjuring up some $21/hour jobs to hand out to former fast food workers, it only seems fair that in the meantime, while they work on pulling off this impressive feat, those workers who are currently trying to make ends meet in “non-real” minimum wage jobs should be able pay for their basic needs in Monopoly money.

Fast food workers join forces with home care workers to demand higher wages
Fast food workers across the nation strike for better wages
Support the striking fast-food workers in New York City
Women need a raise in the minimum wage

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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