McActivism Returns: McDonald’s Employee Asking for Help is Directed to Federal Assistance

A 10-year employee is urged to look into food stamps and Medicaid, according to a new video

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Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A McDonald’s worker who has been employed by the fast-food giant for 10 years and makes $1 over minimum wage recently called the company’s employee hotline seeking financial guidance. The operator suggested she visit food pantries and explore food stamps and Medicaid.

In a video released this week by labor advocacy group Low Pay is Not Ok, Nancy Salgado—who makes $8.25 an hour—called an employee hotline asking about financial assistance for herself and her two children. According to the video, the McDonald’s help line operator suggests Salgado check out food pantries, sign up for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps) and apply for Medicaid. According to Low Pay is Not Ok, Salgado has never been given a raise.

While McDonald’s didn’t question the authenticity of the recording released by Low Pay is Not Ok, it did challenge how its employee hotline was presented. “The video is not an accurate portrayal of the resource line as this is very obviously an edited video,” the company 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.”

(MORE: Fast Food Strikes: Unable to Unionize, Workers Borrow Tactics From Occupy)

The video is the latest effort by activist fast-food workers to raise awareness about low wages throughout the industry. Since August, fast-food workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and many others have staged nationwide strikes while protesting in front of their employers’ restaurants, often borrowing tactics from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Fast food workers have been unable to truly organize for years, but over the last few months they’ve tried to build support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

According to the National Employment Law Project, the median wage for fast-food workers is $8.94, and most employees don’t receive health benefits. A report released last week found that 52% of fast-food employees or employees’ families use one or more public assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, costing taxpayers about $7 billion a year. And according to NELP, McDonald’s makes up $1.2 billion of that $7 billion.

The fast-food giant has been the biggest target of fast-food activism since strikes began this summer. In July, a McDonald’s employee budget planning guide received widespread criticism because it left room for income from two jobs, which many saw as an acknowledgment of the fast-food chain’s low wages.