Culture

The Woman From The Viral Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Worker Meme Shut Down The Laughs With Her Reply About Unfair Wages

Last week, Twitter exploded with the Chicken Sandwich Wars between Popeye’s newest menu addition and Chic-fil-A’s classic options. Black Twitter shared stories of long lines to get the sandwiches and flooded the social media site with news of sandwich shortages. The restaurants’ social media handles even joined in, throwing causal shade at each other. From there, it didn’t take long for the memes to start. Memes about the Chicken Sandwich Wars beef and the public’s reaction to sandwich shortages were quickly shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

The hype is real and it’s been huge for Popeye’s, but one meme to emerge from social media has proved to be straight-up offensive.

In a now-deleted tweet, a Twitter user shared an image of an exhausted Popeye’s employee during her break and asked the Internet to turn it into a meme. 

Instagram / @6ixn8ne

While there has been plenty of comedic content around the Chicken Sandwich Wars, this image points out the very human aspect of this capitalistic push. While Popeye’s makes bank off of the mania surrounding their new sandwiches, their employees are facing an increase in labor without increased financial compensation. 

The hourly pay rate at Popeye’s ranges, on average, from $7.29 to $12.33 an hour depending on state minimum wage. With all the free online hype that Black Twitter has given this sandwich, Popeye’s has received about $23 Million in free press. Obviously, the chicken chain has benefitted financially from this exchange but has made no move to compensate the workers who are making it possible. The unfair division of work and profit is very obvious and is nothing to joke about. 

Twitter wasn’t feeling this call to meme-ify the exhausted employee pic.   

Twitter / @DanaVivianWhite

Twitter user @DanaVivianWhite summed up exactly why this attempt to meme this situation is in such poor taste. As her tweet suggests, this worker likely spends a whole 8-hour shift on her feet without the benefits of vacation time or even a livable wage. The instinct to dehumanize her pain and turn it into a mock-able Internet moment is a grossly inappropriate one and it shows the lack of sensitivity that people have towards service workers and the suffering of Black women in particular.  

Other users pointed out the irony of this image circulating on the Internet during Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. 

Twitter / @portia_bartley

The exhausted female worker meme came into being around the same time as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — a day when we reflect on the wide wage gap that Black women face. Other than Latinas, Black women are the most unequally paid group. It takes an additional 8 months for the pay that Black women receive to equal what their male counterparts make in a year. For this meme to be introduced to the Internet on the same day as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is not only shameful, it’s completely insensitive to the struggles of these women. 

Instead of making this woman into a meme, energy should be put into helping her and treating her like a human being.

Twitter / @DanaVivianWhite

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the people we see on the Internet are real and are experiencing real pain. They are entitled to compassion and respect especially this woman. Instead of making her exhaustion and labor into a joke, we should use it as a motivator to fight for greater wages and benefits for overworked employees. This picture is not meme material but it should be shared as a reminder that these employees deserve much more than they are getting.

This woman isn’t the only one to feel the exhaustion of the demands being put on Popeye’s workers.  

Twitter / @whyslexmad

Service workers are some of the most disrespected employees and Popeye’s employees are getting an extra serving of abuse from frustrated customers. Abusing overworked, underpaid food workers is disgraceful. It is not their job to take the disrespect of their customers. No one is paid enough to deal with this. 

These employees don’t have options. Often, they aren’t able to look for another job if they are unhappy with their current one. Workers like the exhausted woman are stuck in their situation but it is one that they don’t deserve. We don’t have to make it worse by denying their pain and turning their suffering into entertainment. 

The new Popeye’s sandwich might be delicious but it’s not worth the human struggles. If the chicken chain doesn’t soon find a way to compensate their workers for their labor, they will see a backlash from employees and concerned customers and they will lose the Chicken Sandwich Wars. 

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Uber Says It May Shutdown In California As It Fights Against Gig Worker Law

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Uber Says It May Shutdown In California As It Fights Against Gig Worker Law

Mark Ralston / Getty Images

Is it possible that you won’t be able to get an Uber or Lyft in California? Well, it’s actually very likely that your apps won’t work much longer. The two companies are threatening to go dark in the Golden State as the two fight back against AB5 – a state law that offers protections to gig economy workers.

Uber says that they’ll need to rethink their entire business model if forced to follow AB5, hence the likely shutdown. But many find it suspicious that the company will be shutting down through the November election, when voters will be asked to vote on Prop 22, a ballot measure that would exempt Lyft and Uber from the new regulations.

An Uber shutdown is looking more likely in California as the company plans its response to new state laws.

All the drama started when California (among some other states) started enacting ‘gig worker’ protection laws that were meant to force companies like Uber to reclassify drivers as employees. Currently, drivers are classified as ‘independent contractors’ and are not eligible to receive any benefits, such as healthcare, retirement plans, and overtime.

Uber moved to limit the impact of that law while also admitting that change was needed to better protect their drivers. Not too long after Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi published an op-ed in The New York Times with the headline “Gig Workers Deserve Better,” a San Francisco judge ruled that Uber and Lyft had to reclassify their drivers as employees within 10 days.

In his ruling, Schulman wrote of Uber and Lyft, “It is high time that they face up to their responsibilities to their workers and to the public.” He rejected the argument that Uber and Lyft are simply technology companies, asserting “drivers are central, not tangential, to Uber and Lyft’s entire ride-hailing business.”

Two days later, Khosrowshahi responded with an ultimatum: If Uber had to abide by California labor law, it would require a business model change so extreme the entire company would have to pull out of the state until November. Which is convenient, since California has an initiative in the November election that would overturn much of the state’s gig economy law.

The shutdown would be used to fight back against a recent gig economy law that Uber says would eat away at profits.

Over the last five years, several states have enacted legislation against Uber and Lyft’s operating methods. The companies have come to rely on a tried and tested playbook: threaten to suspend service in the area. The threat, which the companies would sometimes follow through on, appeared designed to rile up customers and drivers, and put more pressure on lawmakers. And it often worked: look at Austin, TX.

Now, both Uber and Lyft say they are once again considering suspending service to get what they want. They say they may suspend their operations in California as soon as this week while simultaneously pushing for a referendum in November to exempt them from the law, known as AB-5.

Although the pandemic has reduced demand, a shutdown would largely impact Black and Brown communities.

Credit: Mark Ralston / Getty Images

Although the companies are planning on going dark in the next week or so, many industry experts don’t think the shutdown will have the impact they hope for. The pandemic has greatly reduced demand for ride sharing as people are staying at home and many more are working from home.

However, much like the pandemic itself, the shutdown would likely have an outsized impact on Black and Latino communities – two groups who have largely come to reply on the companies for commuting to and from work or school. Several studies have shown that Black and Brown workers make up the majority of ‘essential workers’ – so many don’t enjoy the privilege of working from home.

An Uber or Lyft shutdown would force many of these workers back on to buses and trains, further putting already impacted communities under increased risk for contagion of the virus.

The companies are betting on a November ballot initiative to help bail them out from new regulations.

Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

Although a judge has tried to force the companies to follow the law – the legal system may not have the last word. Uber and Lyft are counting on California’s voters to help them circumvent AB5, which went into effect in January and makes it more difficult for companies to use independent contractors. Uber and Lyft built their respective businesses on the concept of using freelance drivers who aren’t eligible for traditional benefits like health insurance and paid leave. 

Earlier this year, the companies, along with DoorDash, raised nearly $100 million to place a question on the November ballot. They succeeded, and this fall, voters will be asked to permanently classify ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors. The measure, called Proposition 22, also directs the companies to adopt certain labor and wage policies that fall short of traditional employment.

To help build support, the companies are turning to their customers. Lyft has taken a very active approach with urging its customers to vote yes on Prop 22 – they’ve emailed them and added pro-Prop 22 messages to the app. Meanwhile, Uber is considering similar tactics to ones the company used in 2015 in New York, when the company added a pop-up feature in its app to troll the mayor of New York City and encourage the company’s customers to pressure him to back off on proposed legislation that could seriously hamper Uber’s growth efforts in the city. It worked, and Mayor Bill de Blasio relented.

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The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Demanded Equal Pay, Instead A Court Just Rejected Their Case

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The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Demanded Equal Pay, Instead A Court Just Rejected Their Case

Robert Cianflone / Getty

Women have been fighting for decades to achieve equality in the workplace: from being free from harassment or from being overlooked for promotions and new positions simply based on gender. But few fights have been as hard-fought and as important as the right to equal pay.

And few battles for this right have gone as mainstream and widespread as the fight being led by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team – who have been fighting for the same pay as the U.S. men’s team. However, their battle just hit a major roadblock, but the team says they’re still moving forward.

A district judge in California has dismissed the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s claim of unequal pay. 

The reigning World Cup champion U.S. women’s soccer team is vowing to fight on after a judge dismissed their claim of unequal pay with their male counterparts. The judge said that their claims are not enough to warrant a trial.

The court caught many off guard with its May 1 ruling, which rejected before trial the team’s class claims under the Equal Pay Act and its pay bias claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The women say they’re paid less than the U.S. men’s team players because of their sex.

A spokesperson for the players, Molly Levinson, released a statement and said, in part, we are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up on our hard work for equal pay. A couple of the prominent players, including Megan Rapinoe – tweeted, we will never stop fighting for equality. Tobin Heath said, this team never gives up, and we’re not going to start now.

According to the judge who handed down the decision, the women’s team actually makes more than the men’s national team.

Judge R. Gary Klausner said undisputed evidence shows the women were actually paid more per game than the men during the period at issue in the suit. And the women’s argument they would have made more if paid performance bonuses equal to the men’s was undercut by the women having negotiated a separate pay scheme with salaries and other fixed compensation instead of accepting the exclusively “pay-for-play” agreement the men play under, Klausner said.

The pay discrepancy is because of pay agreements that differ greatly between the two teams.

Credit: Robert Cianflone / Getty

The women’s and men’s teams ended up with substantially different agreements. The female players agreement allows the women to be compensated largely through salary guarantees, with additional opportunities for performance-based bonuses. On the men’s team, players do not earn salaries, but only bonuses, and therefore the men are only paid when they play.

The judge writes, “merely comparing what each team would have made under the other team’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement) is untenable in this case because it ignores the reality that MNT (men’s national team) and WNT (women’s national team) bargained for different agreements which reflect different preferences, and that the WNT explicitly rejected the terms that they now seek to retroactively impose on themselves…In May 2016, USSF offered the WNT a pay-to-play proposal similar to the MNT, but the WNT rejected it preferring an agreement that involved some element of guaranteed compensation.”

Though to be clear – that’s not how the women’s national team sees things and is why they’re pushing forward with their fight.

However, that’s not the way the women see it. On CBS This Morning, team co-captain Megan Rapinoe contradicted the judge’s assertion that the women turned down the men’s deal, “We asked to be under the men’s contract, and it was repeatedly refused to us, not only in the structure but in the total compensation. If we were under that contract, we would have earned at least three times higher.”

The women’s team still has substantial public support for their equal pay case. Joe Biden tweeted that if he becomes president he will not provide World Cup funding unless U.S. Soccer provides equal pay.

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