Not only did Goldman Sachs take $10 billion in TARP money and pay out $6.5 billion in bonuses, but they are a major holder in Burger King which costs taxpayers $273 million a year, because their employees have to rely on public assistance programs to get by.
According to a report released today by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), “Burger King provides limited or no health benefits to hourly workers, which not only jeopardizes workers’ health but also pushes costs onto government programs. Burger King employees are heavy users of publicly-funded health insurance programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP in several states including Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah.”
The report cites the example of the state of Ohio where federal and state taxpayers spent $13.3 million in 2007 in the form of Medicaid, food stamps, and cash assistance for Burger King employees. “The misuse of tax dollars we’re seeing now by some of the bailed-out banks is no one-shot deal,” said SEIU President Andy Stern. “Year in and year out companies that can easily afford to improve health care and wages for workers simply aren’t doing so and are making taxpayers pick up the public assistance tab instead. It’s a drain on our economy we can’t afford to ignore any longer.”
Opponents of health care reform often argue that they don’t want their tax dollars being spent to pay for someone else’s health care, but the reality is that they are already picking up the tab for the care of employees in the retail and fast food industries. Companies like Wal-Mart and Burger King are costing taxpayers billions every year. One of the biggest ways to fix our current system would be to make these employers offer affordable health care to their employees. Goldman and Burger King will continue mooching off of the taxpayer for as long as they are allowed to do so.
The SEIU’s motivation for this report is that they are trying to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed. This bill would make it easier for employees to unionize, which is another way of negotiating healthcare for employees who currently rely on public assistance. There is something wrong with a country where people can work at a job, but still need to be on welfare. Unions aren’t always the answer, but corporate America has been getting a free ride for too long, and needs to be held accountable for their actions.