Food Chain Workers Alliance and Solidarity Research Cooperative released a new report that finds 21.5 million workers in the food system make up the largest sector of employment in the United States. That means one out of every seven workers labor in the food chain. In the five sectors–production, processing, distribution, retail, and service–poor working conditions, below average wages, plus discriminatory and abusive practices are commonplace.
September 9, 2016 was the start of the largest prison strike in U.S. history. Over 72,000 incarcerated workers in 22 states refused to provide their labor to profit the prison industrial complex. California forces 5,588 incarcerated workers to labor in exchange for little or no compensation. The financial losses to the California prison system are as much as $636,068 in revenue or $156,736 in profit for every day of the prison strike.
Street vending is a $504 million industry in Los Angeles. Every year, 50,000 microbusinesses set up shop on the sidewalks of the city, according to the Bureau of Street Services. Street entrepreneurs play a complementary role to brick and mortar establishments in the retail ecosystem. The physical presence of purposeful and neighborly vendors on the street is associated with less frequent rather than more frequent incidents of crime.
This report assesses the benefits and consequences of raising Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15.25 per hour. The result will be an economic stimulus of $5.9 billion and more cash in the pockets for families to survive. Paying fair wages will be adjustment for some, but the result will be a bigger, sustainable and more inclusive economy for Los Angeles.
Construction is a $152 billion industry in California, employing 895,000 workers. One of out of six construction workers in the Golden State, that is 143,900, sank into the informal economy in 2011. Informal construction workers earn about half of what their formal counterparts bring home and their households are three times more likely to live in poverty.
Over half of the workers in food preparation and related occupations are women, most of whom are concentrated in the lowest-paying occupations. Almost 2 million are mothers, 15 percent of employees in the industry. More than half, 1.2 million, are single mothers with children in the household. More than 1 million are single moms with children under age 18. Mothers pay a gender penalty, as well as a motherhood penalty, earning less than males, fathers, and their childless female counterparts.
A broad survey of the food system to map out the race, class, and gender of workers along the supply chain revealed that people of color typically make less than their white counterparts. Few people of color hold management positions in the food system. And, people of color are concentrated in low-wage jobs.