On Boston Herald Radio last week, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker affirmed his support for enabling some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the world to continue paying substandard wages and depending on taxpayers to provide workers with benefits.
The show’s hosts asked Baker whether he believes fast food businesses or taxpayers should be responsible for ensuring that workers receive a livable wage. Baker responded, “I am more inclined to tell you the truth that I think the taxpayer should fill the burden.”
According to a recent study by the University of California and the University of Illinois, fast food workers received an average of nearly $7 billion per year in public assistance between 2007 and 2011, including $3.9 billion per year on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), $1.04 billion in food stamp benefits, and $1.91 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit payments.
At the same time, a report from the National Employment Law Project found that the 10 highest-grossing fast food chains in the nation earned $7.44 billion in profits and distributed more than $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders, while paying $52.7 million to their highest-paid executives.
Baker’s assertion that the status quo is acceptable shows just how out of touch with working class families he is. The wealthiest one percent of our population saw their incomes rise 20 percent in 2012, and income inequality continues to grow. In Charlie Baker’s Massachusetts, employees at some of our largest and most profitable companies would continue to be unfairly pinched, and taxpayers would pick up a tab for the companies.
Massachusetts can do better. Our Commonwealth needs sensible policies to ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to succeed. Rather than trapping working class families in poverty, it’s time to grow the middle class and ensure that fast food workers – and all workers – receive a livable wage and have access to paid sick time.
You can listen to the audio of Baker’s interview for yourself here. His comments come at 1:19:00.