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Colbert Boosts Striking Fast Food Workers Who Want $15 an Hour; Mocks Their Opponents

Striking fast food workers want $15 an hour and Comedy Central is all too happy to help boost their cause. Stephen Colbert performed his usual shtick of the satirical conservative and gave a warm welcome to striking KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand on Thursday's Colbert Report.

"It's a multi-billion-dollar company, yes, but let's keep in mind that the chairman – the chairman is only making $11 million this year," Colbert gave his simplistic, comedic critique of big business. "Naquasia LeGrand. The movement is Fast Food Forward," he promoted her cause at the end.

[Video below. Audio here.]

Colbert took silly, snide shots at critics of LeGrand's demands, like when he quipped that $15 an hour was apparently beneath human dignity:

"I am a major stockholder in Yum! Foods which owns KFC, okay? And I know that you want more money and health care and human dignity. But I don't want you to have those things if it will cost me more money, is there -- could we meet some place in the middle? Like you have dignity but not human dignity. Or human but not dignity."

Colbert briefly touched on the elephant in the room when he brought up ObamaCare regulations as a possible culprit for LeGrand's lack of working hours: "It's been said that the requirement in ObamaCare that anyone who works more than 30 hours a week has lead places like KFC, where you work to keep people to part-time so they don't have to pay health care."

But LeGrand wouldn't blame Obama, and Colbert then lampooned Obama critics:

COLBERT: Okay, so it's Obama's fault?

LEGRAND: It's Obama fault? No, it's not Obama's fault.

COLBERT: Trust me, it's Obama's fault.

(Laughter)

COLBERT: Believe me, I yell that about a lot of things and it always fits.

"These corporations are there to make money, young lady," he mock-lectured his guest. "So you understand that that extra 75 cents an hour is passed on to a consumer like me. And I could be paying more than four cents more for my go cup, you understand that? You understand that you are taking money out of my pocket when you do that."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

COMEDY CENTRAL
THE COLBERT REPORT
1/16/14
[11:50 p.m. EST]

STEPHEN COLBERT: Thanks so much for coming on. Okay, let's tell the people out here who you are. You are a 22 year-old worker at KFC.

NAQUASIA LEGRAND: Yes.

COLBERT: Who has been organizing flash strikes to help push for a $15 an hour minimum wage at fast-food restaurants, correct?

(Applause)
 
LEGRAND: And don't forget the right to unionize without retaliation.

COLBERT: Okay, so the right to unionize without retaliation. And this has lead to – the start of the first one was in November of 2012. And how many people were at that one?
 
LEGRAND: A good handful, say 200 started off.

COLBERT: A year later, you guys held this strike action and there were strikes in over 100 cities across the United States, organizing for unions in fast-food restaurants and a higher minimum wage.

LEGRAND: Yes, sir.

COLBERT: I have never spoken to someone in your industry without yelling the phrase "how long does it take to fry something, where is my order?" Okay, so let me understand, let me understand where you are coming from. Why, you're employed right now, right?

LEGRAND: Yes, sir.

COLBERT: And what do you make an hour?

LEGRAND: Right now, I'm making $8 an hour, because fast food workers like us, you know, stood up and had a voice, so now I'm making $8 an hour.

COLBERT: So it was $7.25 minimum wage in New York and it's gone to $8 in the last year.
 
LEGRAND: Yes, sir.

COLBERT: So you understand that that extra 75 cents an hour is passed on to a consumer like me. And I could be paying more than four cents more for my go cup, you understand that? You understand that you are taking money out of my pocket when you do that.

LEGRAND: Hey, these multi-billion dollars are taking money from my pockets too. I'm working and give them all that money, they could afford to give it to me.

COLBERT: Okay, so but you --

(Cheers and applause)

COLBERT: Why not just work more? How many hours do you work a week?

LEGRAND: Wait, wait, wait, Steve, Steve. Hold on.

(Laughter)

LEGRAND: I don't know if your people told you, I worked at two KFCs and still couldn't make it, still didn't see at least $300 a week. I did two KFCs, probably be seeing at least 35 hours at the end of the week, but I still didn't make it. I still have a Metro Card I need. I still have a family to feed. I still have to make sure bills is paid at a certain time. And I still could not do that with working two KFCs.

COLBERT: You were working at two KFCs Do you still work at two KFCs?

LEGRAND: No, sir.

COLBERT: Alright, so –  

LEGRAND: So now I'm only making $8, only 15 hours a week. So – you tell me, Steve, why –  

COLBERT: Why not do two shifts, why not go to over 30 hours a week?

LEGRAND: Why not go over 30 hours a week, ask my manager that, I don't know.

COLBERT: It's been said that the requirement in ObamaCare that anyone who works more than 30 hours a week has lead places like KFC, where you work to keep people to part-time so they don't have to pay health care.

LEGRAND: Right, and that's why these corporations, they don't want to pay – they don't want to pay the health care, and so that's why they put people under 30 hours a week.

COLBERT: Okay, so it's Obama's fault?

LEGRAND: It's Obama fault? No, it's not Obama's fault.

COLBERT: Trust me, it's Obama's fault.

(Laughter)

COLBERT: Believe me, I yell that about a lot of things and it always fits.

LEGRAND: But it still doesn't justify that these corporations making billions and billions of dollars.

COLBERT: These corporations are there to make money, young lady.

(Applause)

COLBERT: If you want to make more money why didn't have you the foresight to be a multinational corporation?

(Laughter)

LEGRAND: Steve, I don't know about all that, I'm just trying to have a living wage.

(Applause)

COLBERT: Okay. So what do you imagine –

 (Applause)

COLBERT: Why do you need to organize? Why call for unions? Unions never solved anything other than child labor. What is it –

LEGRAND: You know why, you know why? Because me as – me as just being my one voice can't go to my manager and be like listen, I want these set days, I want this how much money I want. No, I have to come with a team, I have to come with my coworkers and other workers around the country and let them know it's not just me who is going through this. It's all of us going through this. That's what makes a union. Americans coming together to make a difference and have a voice together.

(Cheers and applause)

COLBERT: I am – I am a major stockholder in Yum! Foods which owns KFC, okay? And I know that you want more money and health care and human dignity. But I don't want you to have those things if it will cost me more money, is there – could we meet some pace in the middle? Like you have dignity but not human dignity. Or human but not dignity, is there
–  

LEGRAND: Let me tell you something, Steve. There is no compromise in unionize, okay?

(Applause)

COLBERT: You say – you say you're only working 15 hours a week, right? Right now.

LEGRAND: Yes, sir.

COLBERT: Why not get a second job someplace else and just work there when you're not working at KFC?

LEGRAND: Because my manager don't want to give me a set schedule. If I want to have that extra income, there is no reason why I should have a second job when these multi-billion dollar
companies have the money to pay me in the work that I do. I shouldn't have to have a second job.
 
COLBERT: It's a multi-billion-dollar company, yes, but let's keep in mind that the chairman – the chairman is only making $11 million this year. Are you at all afraid that the colonel might come after you? Because that guy's got military experience, you know, he could ride down on you on cavalry or something like that.

LEGRAND: Hey, Steve, I have nothing to lose. Didn't you hear me? I only make 15 hours a week. What I have to lose? He's going to cut me down to 10?

COLBERT: He could take away your extra crispy. By the way, I have to ask all my guests this, original recipe or extra crispy?

LEGRAND: Original, baby.
 
COLBERT: Okay. All right, Naquasia LeGrand. The movement is Fast Food Forward. We'll be right back.

— Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matt Hadro on Twitter.