Associated Press

Not paying your workers enough, then directing them to federal aid? Just one way the fast food giant inflates its hefty profits.

McDonald's has taken a lot of heat lately for the subpar wages it pays its employees, but the company does encourage its workers to find an alternate source of income — federal assistance. A fast-food worker advocacy group has a recording of a phone call made by a worker to the McDonald's employee helpline, called McResources. The operator more or less told Nancy Salgado, an McDonald's employee of 10 years, that signing her and her children up for food stamps should be no problem.

"You would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits," the operator says. "You know it's a federal program, the federal money comes down the states, and the states administer it," the operator adds, making it crystal clear that Salgado would be taking federal money. Not paying your workers enough, then directing them to federal programs like food stamps is apparently one of the ways that McDonald's inflates its hefty profits. 

Here's an edited version of the audio from the call, provided by the advocacy group Low Pay Is Not OK: 

If Salgado's name sounds familiar, that's because she's the same woman who confronted McDonald's USA President Jeff Stratton earlier this month and asked him about why she hasn't seen a raise in 10 years and was still being paid $8.25. He replied, "I've been there for 40 years." Salgado was then arrested for interrupting his meeting. 

The push for fairer wages, and the recording of Salgado's call stems from a report last week which found that more than half of fast food workers have to go on public assistance programs because of their poor wages, CNN reported. "The report estimated that this public aid carries a $7 billion price tag for taxpayers each year," they explain.

Connect the simple dots, and it turns you're actually part of McDonald's and other fast-food companies' lucrative business plans. Suggesting your employees go get food stamps is technically legal, as The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman points out. It's sorta like suggesting they get a second job. Possibly adding insult to injury, CNN reports that franchise owners have to pay to allow its employees to use the McResources help line. So there may be employees who don't get access to this advice, and yes, that's another way McDonald's is making money.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

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