SEATTLE, WA — Some of the state’s wealthiest corporations — including Amazon, Starbucks and Fred Meyer — apply bags of low-wage workers who accept accessible aliment assistance. Experts say this is a abnormality apprenticed by low accomplishment and aerial appliance arrangements, like melancholia or on-demand work.
Through a accessible annal request, Patch acquired a account from the accompaniment Administration of Social and Bloom Casework of the top 50 companies in the accompaniment according to how abounding advisers accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Abetment Program) assistance. Walmart ranked No. 1 with about 4,000 advisers while Amazon, Safeway, McDonald’s and Uber were amid the nine companies that accept at atomic 1,000 workers accepting SNAP.
“One of the affection of low-wage assignment is these workers assuming up on accessible abetment rolls. That’s not necessarily a bad affair in and of itself, it’s absolutely not great. But the affair is their accomplishment are low,” said Ian Perry, analysis and action accessory at the Berkeley Centermost for Activity Analysis and Education.
Patch accomplished out to several companies on the list. While abounding did not respond, some said the accompaniment account is ambiguous because it includes part-time or melancholia workers. Others accent acceptable benefits.
Fred Meyer agent Jeffery Temple said the aggregation employs 16,666 in Washington, and aloof beneath 10 percent accept SNAP.
“Fred Meyer is advance in our assembly and developing aptitude added than anytime before, including alms a new industry-leading apprenticeship account accessible to added associates, up to $21,000 to abutment their approaching and alive our purpose to Augment The Human Spirit,” he wrote in a statement.
According to the accompaniment list, about 36,000 workers in Washington accustomed SNAP allowances as afresh as Aug 23. The federal government sets assets guidelines for SNAP. But, in general, a distinct being would authorize if they acquire beneath than $1,945 gross per month, or about $12 per hour.
The accompaniment Administration of Social and Bloom Casework is able to clue breadth SNAP recipients assignment through appliance forms. But the administration doesn’t use the abstracts for any authentic purpose, according to officials. The accompaniment does not actively acquaint the advice to the companies on the list. The account contains a mix of appliance types, like melancholia or part-time.
Babs Roberts, administrator of DSHS’ association casework division, said the administration can concern the account at any time, and has done so “only a few times” on an ad-hoc basis.
The acceptable news, Roberts said, is that the all-embracing cardinal of bodies accepting SNAP in Washington has decreased in contempo years. A convalescent abridgement and increases in minimum allowance accept contributed to that, she said. Roberts additionally said the accompaniment may use SNAP abstracts to ambition workers for job training or apprenticeship programs. There are about 1.1 actor SNAP recipients in Washington total.
(The accompaniment has a abstracted aliment affairs for acknowledged immigrants who are not acceptable for SNAP, but those abstracts are not included here.)
One standout from the account was the aerial cardinal of Uber advisers accepting SNAP. The aggregation claims that drivers in the Seattle breadth acquire amid $19 and $21 per hour afore expenses, which ambit amid $3 and $6.50 per hour. Uber did not acknowledge to a appeal for comment, but workers in the rideshare industry say accomplishment are lower than the aggregation claims.
Takele Gobena, who works with the App-Based Drivers Association, said that disciplinarian accomplishment accept about collapsed in contempo years. That’s because there are so abounding rideshare drivers on the road. Some drivers accept added bargain assets by activity into debt to buy a car to drive for Uber.
He was not abashed that bags of Uber drivers are accepting SNAP benefits.
“In 2014, the book was abundant better,” Gobena said. “If you had a commuter activity from city [Seattle] to the airport, the net earning would be amid $39 and $42. Now, it’s $19 or $18. When you booty out taxes and all the car expenses, it’s alike less.”
Joshua Welter, an organizer with the Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, said that Seattle needs to actualize a minimum allowance for rideshare drivers. New York City anesthetized a rideshare minimum allowance in August.
“It’s alarming — but abominably not hasty — that Uber is a the top of the account of companies whose workers are affected to await on aliment stamps to augment their families,” Weller wrote in an email. “This is addition acumen why Seattle needs to chase New York’s advance and canyon legislation to agreement that drivers accept a active wage. The accessible should not be subsidizing a chase to the basal in disciplinarian pay.
Lyft additionally fabricated the account at No. 29 with 458 advisers accepting SNAP benefits.
Last week, Amazon became the additional $1 abundance aggregation in history. Meanwhile, in massive accomplishment centers beyond the U.S., including in Kent, Sumner and Dupont, workers earning as little as $13.75 per hour toiled abroad packing boxes abounding of articles apprenticed for customers.
Amazon’s accomplishment centers are acclaimed for boxy alive conditions. One agent told Business Insider beforehand this year that workers urinated in debris cans because they were abashed they would be punished for demography time to airing to a restroom.
It appears, at atomic in Washington, that abounding Amazon workers are accepting a boxy time alfresco of work, too.
The aggregation employs about 50,000 bodies in Washington alone. About 2.7 percent — 1,366 — accept SNAP benefits. Amazon backer Lindsay Campbell argued that workers adulation the company’s allowances and career advance opportunities.
Full-time advisers at accomplishment centers acquire $15 per hour, she said, a amount that includes allowances like banal and bloom insurance. She additionally criticized the state’s abstracts as awry because it includes division and part-time workers.
“We apply bags of bodies in Washington accompaniment who chose allotment time or melancholia roles. The abstracts actuality are accordingly ambiguous because they accommodate bodies who alone formed for Amazon for a abbreviate aeon of time and/or who chose to assignment part-time — both of these groups would about absolutely authorize for abetment if Amazon was their alone job during the year. We accept hundreds of full-time roles available; however, some individuals adopt part-time for the adaptability or added claimed reasons,” Amazon’s account said.
Last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont alien his “Stop BEZOS Act,” which would crave ample administration like Amazon and Walmart to pay aback the government for accessible assistance. Sanders is accession belief through his website from Amazon workers and his appointment aggregate some of those belief with Patch.
“Been on aliment stamps absolute time I been alive at Amazon. Back-breaking labor, abhorrent pay, and alike worse conditions. No abutment backing. I feel like a bondservant and if anyone complains, they will blaze you on the spot. This is the 21st aeon sweatshop.” said Jamal Raul, who formed at a North Carolina accomplishment centermost aftermost year.
Others told Sanders’ appointment that the Amazon allowances are absolutely good, but don’t pay the bills.
A artisan at a Washington accomplishment centermost told Sanders’ appointment he makes $13.75 per hour and works abounding time. He’s a distinct ancestor and earns about $2,200 gross per month, which puts him aural the assets guidelines for SNAP.
“They are consistently blame us to go faster,” he told Sanders’ office.
In 2015, Perry was one of the authors of a abstraction assuming that 56 percent of alive families in the U.S. accept some blazon of government abetment like Medicaid or SNAP. That cardinal is apparently still authentic in 2018, Perry said — although Medicaid acceptance has added back again due to the Affordable Care Act.
The address blames allowance stagnation in low-wage jobs as a above factor. Accomplishment all-embracing in the U.S. accept been about collapsed over the aftermost decade, and accept not recovered to the akin afore the 2009 recession, according to the Bureau of Activity Statistics.
According to Perry, one of the best means to abate the cardinal of alive bodies accepting abetment is to accession pay — an abstraction generally anticipation to be angry to job loss.
But in a 2017 study, the Berkeley Centermost for Activity Analysis and Apprenticeship begin that Seattle’s $15 minimum allowance law did not abrade jobs in the aliment account industry. Washington’s $11.50 minimum allowance is the second-highest in the U.S. In July, the accompaniment unemployment amount was 4.6 percent, according to accompaniment data, a assiduity of a abiding abatement that began in 2010.
“Wages are too low and with minimum allowance we accept absolutely acceptable affirmation that minimum allowance access for low allowance workers haven’t led to appliance losses,” Perry said. “Raising accomplishment is a actual absolute simple way of acclamation the problem.”
Here’s the abounding list:
WALMART – 3,942MCDONALD’S – 2,822SAFEWAY – 2,556FRED MEYER – 1,611UBER – 1,419AMAZON – 1,366EXPRESS EMPLOYMENT – 1,248DOLLAR TREE – 1,239AMERICORPS – 1,034GOODWILL – 995LABORWORKS – 989SUBWAY – 910JACK IN THE BOX – 886HOME DEPOT – 856TACO BELL – 855PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS – 835BURGER KING – 825UPS – 766TARGET – 711STARBUCKS – 665EXPRESS – 633SSPS – 623ROSS – 561WENDY’S – 560YMCA – 550LOWES – 503RESCARE – 500PIZZA HUT- 480LYFT – 458TRUE BLUE – 425DAIRY QUEEN – 410WINCO – 409COMMAND CENTER – 401COSTCO – 393WALGREENS – 367RED ROBIN – 366FEDEX – 357LOGIC STAFFING – 347MACY’S – 345DENNY’S – 334PAPA MURPHY’S – 322TACO TIME – 310STAFFMARK – 294PEOPLE READY – 291ARBY’S – 289AEROTEK – 283USPS – 280ASAP – 269KFC – 262CSL PLASMA – 256
Photos by Neal McNamara/Patch
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