Tag Archives: Burger King

Consumer groups petition fast-food chains to reduce antibiotic use

Consumer health and food safety groups this week called on 16 fast-food restaurants to stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics in their meat and poultry supply.

Medical experts say the overuse of antibiotics in livestock poses a public health threat by increasing the spread of deadly drug-resistant bacteria.

The 16 restaurants petitioned by the organizations received “F” grades for failing to take steps to end the misuse of medical important antibiotics in the Chain Reaction scorecard, a report published by the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, NRDC and Food Animals Concerns Trust.

A statement from the coalition this week says Burger King received an F and, despite an announcement in December to make certain changes regarding antibiotics in the chicken supply chain, still lags far behind McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has removed medically important antibiotics from its chicken supply chain, but Burger King has committed to removing only limited group of antibiotics classified as “critically important” to human medicine, by the end of 2017.

“The global increase in antibiotic-resistant infections is a public health disaster, and it is essential that our biggest restaurant chains do their part to address this growing problem right away,” said Cameron Harsh of the Center for Food Safety.

The petition effort is the latest in a series of campaigns intended to pressure such companies as KFC, Olive Garden, Chili’s and Starbucks to help protect public health and animal welfare by committing to meat and poultry raised without routine antibiotics.

The performance of these companies contrasts sharply with nine of the largest chains — including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle and Panera, which received passing grades in the report.

“KFC and the other restaurants that received failing grades are making our antibiotics crisis worse,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports. “Antibiotics should only be used to treat disease, not wasted on healthy animals or to compensate for filthy conditions on factory farms. It’s time for restaurants to help protect public health by demanding that their suppliers end the irresponsible use of these important medications.”

“When consumers eat a chicken sandwich they shouldn’t have to worry that doing so is potentially undermining antibiotics. They should just enjoy the sandwich,” said Matthew Wellington, field director of the antibiotics program for U.S. PIRG. “More major chains like KFC need to act on antibiotics. We simply cannot afford to lose the foundations of modern medicine.”

Consumer advocacy and food safety groups say that in the absence of mandatory government regulations on agricultural uses of antibiotics in the United States, restaurants should demonstrate their commitment to public health by ending the misuse of antibiotics in their meat and poultry supply chains.

Some background on the issue…

Most meat served by U.S. chain restaurants comes from animals raised in factory farms. The animals often are fed antibiotics to prevent diseases that occur in crowded, unsanitary living conditions and also to promote faster growth.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regularly dosing animals with antibiotics contributes to rising cases of infections in humans that are resistant to important medicines.

The spread of resistant pathogens means that infections are harder to treat, require longer hospitalizations, and pose greater risk of death. World Health Organization reports that “antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.”

General Mills will convert to all cage-free eggs by 2025

General Mills has set a deadline for its conversion to all cage-free eggs by 2025.

The Minnesota-based company, whose brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Progresso soups and Yoplait yogurt, initially announced its plans to go cage-free in July.

But it updated its animal welfare policy to establish the 10-year time frame.

Josh Balk, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, it’s a further sign that major food manufacturers recognize consumers are turning against the idea of confining food animals to cages.

McDonald’s, which buys two billion eggs a year, set a goal in September to buy all cage-free eggs in 10 years. Other companies going cage-free include Burger King and Starbucks.

White Chicago officer charged with murder in killing of black teenager

A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times was charged with murder on Nov. 24, just a day before the deadline a judge set for the city to release a squad-car video of the killing that officials fear will spark unrest.

The state’s attorney’s office said in a statement that Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 20, 2014, killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the video, fearing an outbreak of unrest and demonstrations similar to those that occurred in cities including Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. The judge ordered the dash-cam recording to be released by Wednesday after city officials had argued for months it couldn’t be made public until the conclusion of several investigations.

The Cook County state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, defended the amount of time it took to charge Van Dyke at a news conference. Alvarez said cases involving police officers present “highly complex” legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than “rush to judgment.”

She said the impending release of the video prompted her to move up the announcement of the charge out of concern the footage would spark violence.

“I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of Chicagoans,” Alvarez said.

However, she insisted that she made a decision “weeks ago” to charge the officer and the video’s ordered release did not influence that.

Some community leaders said there was no doubt that Alvarez only brought charges because of the order to release the video.

“This is a panicky reaction to an institutional crisis within the criminal justice system,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said he hoped to see “massive” but peaceful demonstrations.

The city’s hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer’s conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who’s been the subject of protests for months might now be fired.

Activists and journalists have long pressed for the video’s release only to be told that it had to be kept private as long as the shooting was under investigation. After the judge’s order to release it, the investigation was quickly wrapped up and a charge announced.

“You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,” the Rev. Corey Brooks said of Monday night’s community gathering with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Several people who have seen the video say it shows the teenager armed with a small knife and walking away from several officers. They say Van Dyke opened fire from about 15 feet and kept shooting after the teen fell to the ground. An autopsy report says McDonald was shot at least twice in his back. It also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in the teen’s system.

Police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.

Van Dyke was the only officer on the scene to open fire. He emptied his 9 mm pistol, shooting all 16 rounds from just feet away, Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Delaney said at Tuesday’s hearing.

He said the shooting lasted 14 to 15 seconds and that McDonald was on the ground for 13 of those seconds.

Witnesses said McDonald was moving away from the officer and never threatened him, Delaney said. Police say the teen had a knife, and Delaney said a 3-inch knife was recovered from the scene.

Van Dyke’s attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains his client feared for his life and acted lawfully and that the video about to be released doesn’t tell the whole story.

Herbert said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and “can’t be tried in the streets, can’t be tried on social media and can’t be tried on Facebook.”

Chicago police also moved late Monday to discipline a second officer who had shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012 in another incident causing tensions between the department and minority communities. Superintendent Garry McCarthy recommended firing Officer Dante Servin for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, saying Servin showed “incredibly poor judgment.” A judge acquitted Servin of involuntary manslaughter and other charges last April, and Alvarez was accused of having not prosecuted the case properly.

Jackson said a special prosecutor should oversee the Van Dyke case instead of Alvarez’s office.

None of the city’s outreach will be able to stop protests once the video is released, said Jedidiah Brown, another of the pastors who attended the meeting with Emanuel. Emotions are running too high, he added.

The fears of unrest stem from long-standing tensions between the Chicago police and minority communities, partly due to the department’s dogged reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks. Dozens of men, mostly African American, said they were subjected to torture at the hands of a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, and many spent years in prison. Burge was eventually convicted of lying about the torture and served 4½ years in prison.

Ministers who met with Emanuel said blacks in the city are upset because Van Dyke, though stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty and not fired.

The Police Department said placing an officer on desk duty after a shooting is standard procedure and that it is prohibited from doing anything more during the investigations. 

Around the country, fast-food workers to strike on Sept. 4

Fast-food workers in more than 150 cities — including Milwaukee, Madison and Wausau — will walk off their jobs on Sept. 4 as their movement to build a union and raise the minimum wage intensifies.

A day after President Barack Obama praised their campaign during a speech at LaborFest in Milwaukee, workers from Oakland, California, to Opelika, Alabama, said they will strike at the country’s major fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.

Obama, addressing the Labor Day rally, said on Sept. 1, “All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.”

Fast-food workers in Little Rock, Arkansas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Rochester, New York, are among those who will walk off their jobs for the first time, according to an announcement from organizers, who were still preparing a complete list of planned actions.

Fast-food workers in the St. Louis area will note strike onsite but instead will join workers on strike lines in New York City, Memphis, Nashville and Little Rock.

Fast-food workers from four continents are expected to travel to the U.S. to support strikers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Raleigh, according to a news release from strike organizers.

Home-health care workers are expected to join in the demonstration demanding higher pay and better benefits. In several cities, both non-union and union home care workers will join striking fast-food workers in the Fight for $15, a campaign for a higher minimum wage.

Organizers also say there will be civil disobedience actions that coincide with the strike activity, including in Wisconsin, where fast-food workers are preparing for the day with coordination from Wisconsin Jobs Now, which on its website is asking people to stand with underpaid workers, demand fair wages and share support on Twitter at #strikefastfood.

The fast-food workers’ campaign started in New York City in November 2012, with 200 fast-food workers walking off their jobs demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. 

Many fast-food workers do not make much more than $7.25 per hour, or about $15,000 a year for 40 hours a week.

The National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group, said in a statement to the AP that the fast-food protests are attempts by unions “to boost their dwindling membership.”

On the Web…

Support Wisconsin workers at http://action.wisconsinjobsnow.org/page/s/workersunited?source=wp.

Burger King displays Pride, sells ‘Proud Whopper’

Burger King is celebrating LGBT Pride with a message on its Whopper wrappers.

The fast-food chain says it will post a video online today that shows scenes from a San Francisco location where it sold a “Proud Whopper.” Customers were not told what is in the burger, which comes wrapped in rainbow paper. Once opened up, a message inside the wrapper states, “We are all the same inside.”

The idea is that the Proud Whopper is no different from the regular Whopper, despite its colorful packaging.

The marketing effort is part of Burger King’s push to connect with customers in a more meaningful way, particularly with the younger individuals fast-food chains are known for courting. As part of that push, Burger King recently said it was retiring its “Have It Your Way” slogan in favor of the more personal “Be Your Way” (Ad Age pointed out the phrase was “grammatically challenged”).

Whether the new approach can help Burger King Worldwide Inc. boost sales remains to be seen. The company, based in Miami, was acquired and taken private by 3G Capital in 2010. The Brazilian private investment firm took the chain public again in 2012 in a deal that allowed it to retain a majority stake while more than recouping its investment.

3G has been trying to revitalize Burger King’s image and menu ever since with mixed results in the U.S., where traditional fast-food chains have struggled amid competition from newer players such as Chipotle. Last year, Burger King’s sales at established North American locations slipped 0.9 percent.

The chain says the “Proud Whopper” video was shot over the past weekend in San Francisco, near where the city held its 44th annual gay pride parade. Fernando Machado, who heads global brand management for Burger King, said in a phone interview the “Proud Whopper” will remain on the menu until Thursday.

A rough cut of the two-minute video shows confused customers asking about the Proud Whopper, trying to figure out what makes it different, then later grasping what is happening.

“I think this wrapper means we all have the same rights,” a young child explains.

“A burger has never made me cry before,” says a young woman.

Another young woman uses an expletive to explain that it’s same stuff inside. The video also shows some negative reactions, including a man who says the chain will no longer have his business.

Burger King said the video was developed by the ad agency DAVID, and directed by Henry Alex Rubin, who also directed the film “Girl, Interrupted.”

Other food companies have also recently shown support for gay individuals, including Oreo-cookie maker Mondelez International Inc., which featured a gay couple in an ad for Honey Maid graham crackers, and Coca-Cola Co., which featured a gay couple in its Super Bowl ad.

Workers’ protests highlight fast-food economics

American fast-food workers often earn about $7.25 an hour to make the $3 chicken sandwiches and 99-cent tacos that generate billions of dollars in profit each year for McDonald’s and other chains.

Thousands of the nation’s many millions of fast-food workers and their supporters have been staging protests across the country in the past year to call attention to the struggles of living on or close to the federal minimum wage. The push raises the question of whether the economics of the fast-food industry allow room for a boost in pay for its workers.

The industry is built on a business model that keeps costs – including those for labor – low so companies can make money while satisfying America’s love of cheap, fast food. And no group along the food chain, from the customers to the companies, wants to foot the bill for higher wages for workers.

Customers want a deal when they order burgers and fries. But those cheap eats squeeze franchise store owners who say they already survive on slim margins. And the corporations have to grow profits to keep shareholders happy.

“There’s no room in the fast-food business model for substantially higher pay levels without raising prices for food,” says Richard Adams, a former McDonald’s franchisee who now runs a fast-food consulting business.

Caught in that triangle are the workers. The median hourly wage for a fast-food cook last year was $9, up from about $7 a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But many workers make the federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009. At $7.25 an hour, that’s about $15,000 a year, assuming a 40-hour workweek. It’s well less than half of the median salary of an American worker.

The protests come as President Barack Obama has called for an increase of the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, with some members of Congress and economists calling for a hike as well. And the fast-food workers movement is getting financial support as well as training from organizers of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers.

Workers protesting in cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit, are pushing for $15 an hour, which would mean wages of $31,000 a year. But the figure is seen as more of a rallying point and many say they’d be happy with even a few bucks more.

“Anything to make it more reasonable,” says Jamal Harris, 21, who earns $7.40 an hour working at three different fast-food restaurants around Detroit – a Burger King, a Long John Silver’s and a Checkers – because he’s never sure how many hours he’ll get at any one job.

The same is true for Robert Wilson, a 25-year-old McDonald’s employee in Chicago. “It was never a consistent check,” said Wilson, who lives with his mother and brother who also work at the restaurant.

Wilson says he was given one 10-cent raise in the past four years. That brings his pay up to $8.60 an hour after seven years working at the restaurant.

Low wages and a lack of benefits for workers aren’t anything new in the fast-food industry, of course. It’s why “McJob” has been a pejorative term for so long. What’s changing now is that such jobs are playing a bigger role in the U.S. economy, bringing the fast-food protests closer to home for many.

Nearly 70 percent of the jobs gained since the recession ended have been in low-paying industries such as fast-food or retail. That’s even though half of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were in industries that pay between $38,000 and $68,000 a year.

Currently, the median annual wage for all U.S. full-time wage and salary workers is about $40,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s based on weekly earnings of $776.

The tilt toward low-wage jobs is what makes it so critical for fast-food and retail jobs to provide better pay, says Robert Reich, an advocate for workers who served as Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration. “It’s impossible for the economy to run on all four cylinders unless consumers have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going,” he said.

Still, raising wages for fast-food jobs means figuring out where the money would come from.

THE FRANCHISEES

More than 90 percent of McDonald’s and Burger King locations in the U.S. are owned by franchisees who say they have to worry about making rent, buying supplies, paying workers and shelling out royalties and fees to their parent company for use of their name and brand. Franchisees say they have to do this while trying to eke out a profit on the super-cheap menu items that customers have come to expect.

Franchisees say their profit margins are thin – they make 4 cents to 6 cents on average for every dollar they take in – and that they can’t afford to hike pay, particularly at a time when companies are trumpeting value menus amid heightened competition.

Kathryn Slater-Carter, who owns two McDonald’s in California, said that what franchisees can pay workers depends “on what money you’ve got left after all (the company’s) interference.”

Slater-Carter said that in addition to emphasizing low prices, the company has been putting more costs onto franchisees for things such as software licenses and service contracts for restaurant equipment.

Prices for food ingredients are volatile and insurance and other costs are rising, too, meaning labor is one of the few costs franchisees can control. It’s why franchisees often keep hourly wages as low as possible or try to avoid paying overtime, some franchisees and union organizers say.

Not that some franchisees don’t pay workers more.

Aslam Khan, chief executive of Falcon Holdings, which owns 165 Church’s Chicken and 44 Long John Silver’s locations, says his employees start at between $8 and $8.50 an hour. To keep the best, experienced workers, he pays $10 to $13 per hour.

He recognizes that’s still not much. “These days the whole family has to work to support the family. In order to put bread on the table, you have to do whatever,” he said.

Over the past three years, Khan said that his profit margins have declined from 5 percent to 1 percent as food and other costs have climbed and menu prices remained flat.

THE COMPANIES

Many labor groups point to the profits of the fast-food companies – and the pay packages of their CEOs – when trying to assign blame for low wages for workers.

Last year, the five big publicly traded fast-food companies together earned 16 cents in profit for every dollar of revenue. That’s 73 percent better than the average big U.S. company, according to FactSet research firm. And that compares with earnings of 4 cents for every dollar of revenue made by discount retailers Wal-Mart and Target, which also have come under fire for not paying workers enough.

McDonald’s, the world’s biggest burger chain, for example, reported a profit of $5.5 billion last year on $27.6 billion in sales. CEO Don Thompson got a pay package worth $13.8 million.

Still, publicly traded companies are under pressure from shareholders and creditors to maintain or improve profits; even a slight change from quarter to quarter can send stock prices moving in either direction.

In emailed statements, McDonald’s and Burger King both said they don’t determine wages for workers, noting that the vast majority of restaurants are run by franchisees. McDonald’s also noted that it is “in the business of providing affordable, high quality food.” The company said that raising entry-level wages would mean higher overall costs, which could result in higher prices on menus.

“That would potentially have a negative impact on employment and business growth in our restaurants, as well as on value for our customers,” the company said.

Representatives for Wendy’s and Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Labor organizers dismiss the idea that companies can’t influence worker pay. They say companies have near total control of every other aspect of operations through their strict franchise agreements, down to which napkins, ketchup and computer systems are used, as well as the prices that are charged for food.

“Corporations try to insulate themselves legally and morally by dictating everything but working conditions,” says Stephen Lerner, a longtime union organizer.

THE CUSTOMERS AND WORKERS

If franchisees and companies can’t, or won’t, pay more, that leaves the people who buy fast food. “This all comes back to the consumer,” says Adams, the former McDonald’s franchisee turned consultant.

Although many Americans say they support higher wages for workers, the reality is that people flock to the cheapest meals, which cut into profits. It’s why fast-food chains have been stepping up deals and promotions in the weak economy.

If prices went up noticeably at McDonald’s, for example, 23-year-old Eugene Santos said he would probably find someplace else to eat.

“That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s a quick stop for a lot of people. They enjoy the convenience and affordability,” said Santos, a self-employed resident of Providence, R.I., who was eating at a McDonald’s recently.

Workers themselves also share the blame.

The weak job market tilts the power in favor of employers, who can easily find replacements who are willing to work for low pay. That means the ability to keep up demonstrations that capture public attention is critical.

Yet organizing workers has been notoriously difficult in the fast-food industry, given the high turnover rates and ranks of younger workers who see the jobs as temporary gigs.

Consider the series of protests over the past several months that began last November in New York. Despite the widespread media attention, the turnout has been mixed and it’s not clear what impact, if any, they’ve had on business.

When the demonstrations arrived in St. Louis, for example, organizer Rev. Martin Rafanan said about 100 workers and supporters protested at around 30 locations. That meant they were spread relatively thin, and no stores had to shut down as a result. There’s been greater support in other cities including Seattle, where protests ended up temporarily closing down a Burger King and other stores, according to local reports.

But even in New York City where the protests have delivered the biggest turnouts, it hasn’t necessarily translated to broader awareness among customers. Shortly after about 400 protesters targeted a McDonald’s by the Empire State Building this past week, for example, business appeared normal and some customers inside said they weren’t aware of the demonstration. The same was true at a McDonald’s a few blocks away.

Garrett Mattson, a 24-year-old from Warren, R.I. started working at McDonald’s when he was in college and stayed on after graduation because he couldn’t find another job. He earns $7.75 an hour.

He said he would probably support the effort to raise pay if it came to the restaurant where he works. But even though the job is important to him now, he doesn’t consider it a career path.

“I don’t see myself there when I’m 30,” he said.

Fast food workers protest low wages in NYC

More than 100 fast food workers, policy experts, community leaders and clergy members appeared at a New York City Council hearing this week to testify on the impact of the low wages and illegal wage theft.

“When the $200 billion fast food industry pays it’s people minimum wage, you know who suffers? We all do,” said Fast Food Forward campaign director Jonathan Westin. “Taxpayers pick up the tab for their food stamps and homeless shelter. Landlords lose tenants when families are forced to double up. Shop owners lose customers when people can’t afford to buy any extras.”

“For fast-food workers who are supporting families, making ends meet can truly be a struggle; in New York City, it is almost impossible to put food on the table with the salary of even a full-time employee in a fast-food establishment,” said New York City Councilman Mark Weprin, in a statement released this week.

Fast food industry workers make on average between $10,000 and $18,000 a year – below the poverty line – and 80 percent of them have had their pay illegally stolen over the last year, according to FFF.

“When I think I’m going to get paid for 35 hours at the end of the week, I’ll only see 30 on my check and not even know how that happened. I have direct deposit, but Burger King doesn’t make it easy to get your pay stub, so it’s not like I can check how they calculated my money,” said Keon Joseph, 20, a Burger King worker in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I can’t afford to have Burger King stealing money out of my paycheck. Paying for school, helping out with bills, it’s just so hard. We have to rely on food stamps to get by.”

The hearing followed a recent expose in The New York Times about bounced checks, late payments and forced hours off the clock plaguing workers in area’s fast food industry and an announcement from New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that his office is investigating.

“You can’t build a healthy economic recovery on jobs that pay poverty wages and subject workers to rampant wage theft. People can’t support themselves and have to rely on public assistance, local businesses lose out because their customers don’t have enough money to spend in their stores, and our city suffers as a result. Raising wages and enforcing workplace standards is a key economic growth strategy, and in a city with 50,000 fast food workers, it’s long past time to figure out how to improve working conditions for these and other low-wage workers,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project.

After coming together in November and April in citywide strikes, the workers are continuing to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union.

“Much like the roaring 1920s, the top 1 percent now extracts more of the nation’s income and wealth relative to the bottom 90 percent,” said Dorian Warren, a professor of political science and public affairs at Columbia University. “Raises and the right to form unions would shift money back to working families for basic necessities, instead of sending it off to distant corporate headquarters to pad profits for executives and Wall Street stockholders. That shift, in turn, would help support small businesses and jobs in local communities.”

On the Web…

http://www.fastfoodforward.org/en/

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Poll: Ronald McDonald defeats the Burger King in presidential race

In a hypothetical presidential race, Ronald McDonald would beat out the Burger King, according to a survey of voters conducted by Public Policy Polling.

PPP conducted multiple polls over the weekend, including a survey of Wisconsin voters that found a drop in Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating, but also a survey of U.S. voters on food and beverage choices.

A look at the findings:

• Democrats are the party of bagels – 34 percent – and croissants – 32 percent – while Republicans prefer to eat doughnuts – 35 percent.

• Democrats like KFC better than Chick-Fil-A while Republicans take Chick-Fil-A over KFC by a 48/29 spread.

• Democrats are cool with vegans but GOP voters have a negative opinion of them.

• Democrats prefer regular soda while Republicans prefer diet soft drinks.

• Republicans narrowly believe that Olive Garden constitutes ‘a quality source of authentic ethnic food,’ Democrats think it does not.

• 52 percent of Americans say that dinner is their favorite meal of the day. Democrats and Republicans both strongly back dinner.

• Coke beats out Pepsi in the soft drink wars, drawing support from both Republicans (47/33) and Democrats (44/37).

• 54 percent of voters say they’d be willing to pay more for their restaurant meals to help employees have health insurance. Democrats are more willing to pay more for that purpose, but Republicans by a narrow margin (41/38) as well.

• Voters narrowly prefer pancakes over French toast, with waffles finishing third.

Jury awards gay couple $3.15 M over Burger King bashing

A gay couple from Union City, N.J., was awarded $3.15 million in damages after workers at a local Burger King chased and beat them following a dispute over their order.

Peter Casbar, 43, and Noel Robichaux, 46, testified that the dispute with the person taking their order in the 2007 incident escalated and other Burger King workers became involved after they left the restaurant, The Jersey Journal reported.

“The manager and a group of angry restaurant employees chased the couple and then mercilessly kicked, beat and spat upon the two men while screaming hate-filled anti-gay invectives,” the couple’s attorney said in a statement. “Violence against anybody, including gay people, cannot be condoned. The jury spoke to this issue.”

Angel Caraballo and Christopher Soto, two employees of the Union City Burger King, have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for the attack on Casbar and Robichaux.

The couple alleged they were victims of a violent hate crime and brought the suit under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination.

The $3.15 million must be paid by Food Service Properties Corp. and Union City Restaurant Corp., which own seven Burger Kings.

The couple’s lawyer said they thought they were going to die during the attack.