Most Food Industry Workers Treated Poorly

Most employers know that it's important to treat all of your workers with the same respect and appreciation that you want to be treated with - and that the way you treat your employees is what can separate a good employer from a great employer.

Unfortunately, a new study has found that many employers in the restaurant industry have yet to realize this connection, which is unfortunate given the stressful and difficult environment in which food industry employees are forced to work - anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant would agree with that.

Most disconcerting is that only one in 10 food sector employees earn a livable wage and the large majority don't receive basic benefits or advancement opportunities. All of this could translate to mental and physical risks for employees and customers alike.

The study, which was conducted by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, was compiled from interviews with about 700 workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail, and service sectors. Aside from restaurants, that also includes employees at farms, slaughter houses, warehouses, and grocery stores.

Some key findings of the study include:

  • There are about 20 million food service workers throughout the nation, accounting for one-sixth of America's overall employment base.
  • Food service employees bring in about $1.8 trillion in goods and services each year, accounting for more than 13 percent of the nation's GDP.
  • Food service workers earn a median wage of $9.65 per hour, causing 13.8 percent of employees in the industry to rely on food stamps.
  • About 83 percent don't receive employer-sponsored health insurance and more than three in 10 go to the emergency room when they need medical care.
  • Another 79 percent don't get paid sick days and three in 10 don't always get a lunch break.
  • Roughly 81 percent have never gotten a promotion, mainly minorities and immigrants.
  • At least 57 percent have been injured or sick while on the job and more than half have handled or served food while sick.
  • 47 percent of small and mid-sized employers said corporate competition has caused stress on their bottom line.

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