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Fast Food Workers Strike Demanding $15. per hour wages


Here is an article regarding hundreds of fast food employees who are demanding wage increases from around $ 7.40 an hour to $ 15. per hour. Your thoughts.........


(Fox news article was the first to come up on a google search)

CNBC is doing a segment on it now.

    1. re: linguafood

      Good for them indeed. Minimum wage should be a living wage.

      It is an issue here in the UK as well. Shameful wherever.

      1. re: Harters

        "Living wage".. that seems to be a newish term. I don't remember hearing it growing up.or until the last year or so.

        1. re: rochfood

          "Living wage" is certainly a newish term in the UK. We've only had a legal minimum wage since 1999. It has never been adequate and many of us would take the view that it was at such a low level to appease business owners. The fact that it benefitted so many workers when it was introduced was a shameful reflection of employment practices in this country. Employment practices in this country continue to be shameful and the Living Wage campaign works to overturn just one of these poor practices.

          1. re: rochfood

            There was a living wage campaign in Santa Monica in the early 90s.

          2. re: Harters

            The strikers are not seeking to raise the minimum wage. They want to be paid substantially more than the minimum wage.

          3. re: linguafood

            Calling voluntary work in US restaurants "slave labor" is an absolute insult to people in other countries who are actually subjected to real slave labor. Just for example, 6 year old children being forced to work in sweat shops in Bangladesh, children being forced to work in African diamond mines, etc.

            No one is forcing people to work in US restaurants.

            1. re: Fowler

              Their situation is "forcing" them to. The minimum wage is an insult to human dignity.

              1. re: Fowler

                Children are "forced" to work by their family's poverty, not by external matters.

                1. re: Harters

                  Harters, if you are so outraged by the compensation provided for servers here in the US, I hope you will make an exclusion to your European ways of not tipping servers and please tip our servers well during your visit to make up for the terrible economic situation we have forced them into.

            2. Having been a member of 2 unions, they can dream. Plenty of folk will take their jobs while they walk the line.

              My living wage would include a weekly paid reservation at Per Se. A car never more than 3 years old with unlimited gas. And a 34 ft Sabre Mark II with retractable keel for living space.

              1 Reply
              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Sounds exactly like what they're asking for.

              2. If fast food outlets paid twice minimum wage for entry-level workers, where would high school students get after-school and summer jobs?

                12 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  Exactly right. These are meant to be entry-level jobs. High school kids would be out of luck. And a cheeseburger from Mickey D's would no longer be affordable.

                  1. re: justalex

                    "Meant" by whom? It's not like McD's won't hire anyone willing to work for pauper's wages, and it's not like people desperate for a job won't take it. That doesn't mean they can live on it.

                    When I was getting out of school in the early 80s, rent was figured to be 1/4 of a person's income, and even at minimum wage a person could find some way to get by. But wages have been kept down ever since, even as costs have gone up, until now rent can take up an entire paycheck.

                    $7.25 x 40 = $290/week, or $1160/month. In Missouri, takehome is roughly 60% of gross, so about $700/month takehome working 40 hr/week at minimum wage if I remember how to do math.

                    This is where 1/5 of American workers are right now. Not just fast food of course but other retail.

                    And of course a burger would be affordable, easily. Labor is much less of the price of a burger than materials. In the late 70s much more of the economy came back to the workers, even at much lower volume of sales. Now we have record setting sales with the workers getting very little of that. With more money coming to the workers again the stronger the economy will be.

                    The only thing holding us back is that so much of our money supply has been sucked up into the stratosphere that there's much less circulating down here with the rest of us. Whether it's higher taxes or gold-plated McNuggets, something's going to have to pry that hoarded money away if we are going to have money to pay our bills. Because the cheapest burger won't sell if I'm not making enough money to buy it.

                    Edit: accidentally a word

                    1. re: justalex

                      McDonalds can't discriminate based on age even if they were so inclined. I think it's a problem where you have people in the entry-level, unskilled job market at a life stage where they need a skilled job. That isn't McDonalds' fault.

                      I don't think there is less money circulating for the rest of us. Median income is the same as it was 40 years ago, and fast food employees certainly didn't make the equivalent of $15 an hour then.

                      If fast food companies are required to pay $15 an hour, they are going to get better employees, and the strikers will be out of a job.

                      1. re: kevin47

                        Maybe fast food employees didn't make the equivalent of $15 an hour but living expenses were more in line with lower wages. Gas wasn't 4+ a gallon. Minimum wage hasn't kept up, by any means.

                        And just because other professions are lower paid does it mean that there need to be jobs that pay essentially slave wages?

                        If we are the greatest country, we should be proud to provide well for our citizens. And anyone working 40 hours a week, even at an "unskilled" job should be able to live with a modicum of dignity and not have to choose between a bottle of aspirin and a pack of TP at the dollar store.

                        Work harder, get more education, etc., etc. (if you have the opportunity and means) and of course then you move up to a better apartment, then a house, then a used car (from a bus pass) then a new car...

                        But should the lowest level really not even be able to afford to eat?

                        People aren't demanding Neiman Marcus for all, but the dollar store shouldn't be out of reach if you work full time.

                        1. re: Violatp

                          the sad fact is that these jobs, and other lower-rung service industry jobs, have replaced manufacturing and labour jobs in the United States, and therefore should no longer be viewed as entry-level positions for teenagers. Just as the likes of McDonalds were slow to realize that their client-base demanded healthier options, they will eventually have to realize that their labour force requires livable wages.

                          it's sad when regular people turn their backs on their compatriots to defend billionaires.

                          1. re: catroast

                            I had to laugh a couple of years back when, after his company had spent decades depressing wages and forcing manufacturing jobs overseas, one Walmart exec just could not understand why so many customers had no money to spend.

                            1. re: catroast

                              “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” -- John Steinbeck

                                1. re: catroast

                                  If you want to talk about how small decisions can change the course of history, imagine if Ronald Reagan had been chosen to play Tom Joad instead of Henry Fonda.

                                  1. re: JonParker

                                    It would have ended up being the same, since Ronald Reagan played plenty of hard-up blue collar types, being a Warner Bros. contract player and all. Also while we're talking about it, he was NOT a B-actor or a bad actor - he was largely a supporting player in A movies. In no way was he some kind of cheeseball faker. He was an outstanding actor, in fact, always convincing - exactly why he was so convincing when he was pretending to be a governor and then a president.

                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                      I was being somewhat facetious, and pretty much agree with you given that the left leaning John Ford managed to make John Wayne one of the biggest stars ever. But still, Grapes of Wrath was one of the most powerful socialist stories ever -- it would have been great campaign fodder material.

                          2. re: kevin47

                            "McDonalds can't discriminate based on age even if they were so inclined"

                            ADEA protects only those between ages 40-70.

                            But hawkeye should weigh in here, since that's his thing

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          I would definitely pay more. Most fast food workers are not teenagers. McDonald's has a section on managing a second job as part of their new employee orientation. As the economy has changed, many of those recovery jobs are in retail, fast food & other components of the service industry.

                          1. re: Kalivs

                            Elsewhere people seem to miss this very exact point. I read somewhere that fast-food/retail jobs are only held by 15 or 16% of the adolescent/young adult population. MOST of the jobs nowadays are held by: 1) people in their 30s on up who lost their FT jobs and haven/t been able to reenter the job market for whatever reason (I have a few family members falling under this -- one works FT at a pizza place); 2) those in their 50s who were laid off, are too young to retire, and considered "too old" for most employers out there; and 3) seniors who work PT either or economic reasons or just wanting to get out of the house (we've got many of them around my way).

                            Sure, some of these people have no more than a high school education. Many of them are/were SAHM's who haven't worked outside the home since before having kids. Many of them are divorced and/or single. But there's a bigger portion who are college-educated and are trying to provide for their families on the pittance these places offer. When you're desperate, that's what you do. And given the state of the economy, it's better to stay where you are than burn bridges trying to get something more in line with your education or whatever.

                            1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                              I'm not disagreeing with what you are saying, however with regard to this comment;

                              "But there's a bigger portion who are college-educated and are trying to provide for their families on the pittance these places offer."

                              Would you agree that this segment is fueled by the "great recession" and the ongoing slow/poor economic and job growth we are experiencing? I don't think this is considered the norm, nor what has been the case until the most recent downturn of the economy.

                              Would you agree with that?

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                I would agree with that, but I'd also say that it's irrelevant. As we've seen lately, the electric company and the bank holding your mortgage won't take "it's a poor economy" as payment.

                                The thing that everyone in politics knows but refuses to acknowledge is that a rising tide lifts all boats. Higher wages leads to more spending, spending translates to more economic activity, and that translates into a strong economy. People act like another nickel on a Big Mac (if that) is going to lead McDonalds to start laying off workers. It won't, because wages will also increase for all workers, leading McDonalds to sell more Big Macs, leading to the need for more workers at the higher wage.

                                It drives me crazy when people treat the economy as a zero sum game. It's just not. Higher wages will benefit *everyone*, not just the workers that are earning more.

                                1. re: JonParker

                                  "The thing that everyone in politics knows but refuses to acknowledge is that a rising tide lifts all boats. "

                                  But there is fervent disagreement as to what policies will rise the tide. I don't think the evidence supports the notion that artificially raising wages translates into more economic activity. The reason for this is that when labor costs more, things cost more. This has an impact on both demand for things and the ability of companies to supply the things.

                                  The economy is not a zero sum game, but economic redistribution is, by definition. Whether that makes it sound policy or not is another question.

                              2. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                My newspaper, in the UK, reports on the strike this morning. The article is written in a generally sympathetic way towards the strikers - wouldnt expect different from its usually left of centre attitude (it's why I buy it).

                                It notes information from the Bureau of Labour Statistics as saying that women make up two thirds of workers in the fast food industry. And, from the Center for Economic & Policy Research that a quarter of fast food workers are raising children.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  I would enjoy reading that article. I often watch BBC news as I like see how the US is viewed and how world news is reported outside of our news sources. It's so sad to say I do not trust our news sources for truthful reporting. It seems every US news organization has it's own agenda and the news they report is skewed towards whatever alliances the networks has.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    The online article has been edited down and does not have the quotes I mentioned but here it is:


                                    The paper has covered the issue on several occasions. A search of their site for "fast food workers" should find you more commentary.

                                    In the UK, television news (not just the state owned TV, the BBC, but also privately owned channels) is required to be politically neutral whilst print media can (and generally does) adopt broad political stances. Perhaps it goes without saying that most newspapers take a generally right of centre position.

                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                        The BBC is not without its own allegations of bias, especially centre-left liberal bias and even internal investigations has supported the allegations.

                                        Hardly any news source is without its own agenda, just as the Guardian is a left-centre paper with a liberal/progressive bias, the Daily Telegraph of the UK is the centre-right paper with its own conservative bias.

                                        While I do agree it's useful to read overseas media to get a sense of what the attitudes are outside the US, but as with all media sources, it's best to read through the lines and form your own judgments.

                                        1. re: Roland Parker

                                          Never a surprise when the right wing accuses the BBC of political bias. It's also never a surprise when they are accused of bias towards the Palestinian case and against the stance of the state of Israel. And, it's never a surprise when the Corporation is accused of an anti-American bias. Nor is it a surprise when it is accused of anti-Muslim bias and pro-Muslim bias

                                          These things are never a surprise because the Beeb is such an easy target for propagandists. Of course, the Corporation doesnt help itself - the recent Savile and payoffs scandals refer.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            The Beeb is no doubt an easy target because as a taxpayer funded institution if the views seemingly espoused by the broadcasters or journalists are contrary to yours, you get upset at the use of your tax dollars. Given that I don't believe in any such thing as the existence of true impartiality in all media forms, it's probably the biggest argument in favour of abolishing or privatising the Beeb.

                            2. re: sueatmo

                              you already pay more for a burger - only the employees have gotten a lesser share of the pot.

                            3. The minimum wage was established in 1938. Two points:

                              1. At the time it was established, opponents screamed that it would raise prices through the roof, cause widespread unemployment, and cause businesses to fail. Every time it's been raised since then, opponents have screamed that it would raise prices through the roof, cause widespread unemployment, and cause businesses to fail.

                              This has never come true.

                              2. If the minimum wage had kept pace with the rate of inflation, it would be in the neighborhood of $22 now. Asking for $15 is completely reasonable, and is in fact too low.

                              Fast food workers deserve a strong union. The way they are treated is a shame.

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: JonParker

                                It creates a disturbance in the force of supply and demand. Suffice to say that in our current form of government, such disturbance will benefit some at the expense of others. Those harmed aren't the rich, but other poor people perhaps just one rung up fom unskilled laborers. In the fast food world, it's most likely that the franchise owner suffers rather than the franchisor. Most franchisees are just small business owners.

                                1. re: JonParker

                                  Jon your assertion that minimum wage adjusted for inflation should be in the neighborhood of $22. per hour really surprised me. How or where are you coming up with that as the inflation adjusted minimum wage? That's much higher than numbers any I have heard of and would enjoy taking a look at how that was derived. Thanks.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    The minimum wage in 1938 was 25 cents. If you use the inflation calculator provided by the Fed, that's equivalent to $4.14 today. In order to have the minimum wage in 1938 equal to $22 today, the minimum wage would have been ~$1.32. If that was the minimum wage in 1938, that would have meant the minimum wage worker would have made ~$2,700 a year (based on a 40 hour week) which would have been significantly more than the average income at the time (about $2,000 a year). So no, the minimum wage of 1938 was no more a living wage than it is now. In fact, the minimum wage today supports a higher standard of living today than it did in 1938. For the record, I agree that the minimum wage should be higher, but recognize there will be knock on effects from that.

                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                      Well, I was actually oversimplifying. It's not just the inflation rate (although that's a big part of it), it's also tied to economic purchasing power.

                                      In other words, in the 1960's and 1970s the rule of thumb was that 25% of your income should be spent on housing. That was manageable back then. In today's world, a full time minimum wage worker would make a bit under $1200 a month. In most cities, rents start at about $900 or higher. so that leaves $300 for food, electric, car, fuel, medical expenses, etc.

                                      I paid $1200 a month for my apartment in Baltimore, although I was making way more than minimum wage. It was ok but by no means lavish.

                                      Here's an article that explains it somewhat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02...

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        That's an awfully convenient oversimplification. At any rate, we have far more amenities now that weren't available in 1938. Nobody originally thought the minimum wage ought to cover the cost to purchase an automobile. So what you are saying is that you think a minimum wage ought to provide for the many things some take for granted.

                                        That's a fair argument, but it isn't an apples to apples comparison at all.

                                        1. re: JonParker

                                          Excellent and I truly appreciate your admission to "oversimplifying", I enjoy a good spirited debate, but you really had me scratching my head with the $22. figure. I did my own research on the topic because of your number and couldn't find anything "inflation" based that quoted over $14. per hour.

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            The $22 isn't about inflation but about productivity. Min wage workers do more work now for the money than they used to.



                                            It's a valid argument but kind of confuses the issue.

                                            1. re: ennuisans

                                              I'm not arguing that point at all, the initial post was said it was strictly inflation driven, thus my obvious confusion.

                                            2. re: jrvedivici

                                              Well, this is a message board devoted to food. This is a topic that obviously goes into other issues. And while I think it's a debate worth having, if the striking workers were hotel maids or Abercrombie & Fitch cashiers it wouldn't be allowed here. While challenging my assertions is certainly allowable and even welcome, I'm also trying to keep the discussion somewhat focused.

                                              I'll just say that I try not to be dogmatic, and admit it when there are issues I'm conflicted on (like Iraq or Syria).

                                              When people argue that if the minimum wage is increased that it will lead to layoffs and business closings, they're discounting the fact that people will have more money to spend, therefore increasing business's output, leading to needing more workers. This is obviously not a simplistic answer, since there are other answers besides hiring more people, such as automating more of the process, but that's happening anyway.

                                              It's pretty obvious that I skew in a certain direction, but If I have one firmly held belief, it's that there are never easy answers.

                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                The dangers of trying to make the argument that if this happened this way fifty years ago, repeating the same policies should lead to the same results, ignores that the external and internal economic factors are constantly changing.

                                                Perhaps America's economic miracle (or myth?) of the 1950s when all able bodied men (well, white men) could afford to support a family comfortably on modest wages rested on the basis that the US economy was without peer in the world and that our old economic competitors - namely Europe, had been laid to waste by WWII, the British Empire was bankrupt, and any budding economic tiger in Asia was soon to slide into communism.

                                                Today we operate within a very different global economic model. Fifty years ago, if you raised the minimum wage and people spent more money, that money largely remained inside the US. But today's consumers buy goods largely made overseas - hence the enormous trade deficit (interestingly enough one of the little talked Keynes finding is that the impact of deficit spending as a stimulus is sharply curtailed if the country has a large trade deficit and a large national debt).

                                                Even concerns about rising costs of housing expenditures as a share of our incomes obscures that other expenditures - food and clothing, for example, are much cheaper than comparables in the 1950s. Plus so many things today that weren't available in the 1950s - electronics, internet access, mobile phone plans, place demands on our expenditures as essentials, while we buy fewer things that were commonplace in the past - domestic service, for example, has largely disappeared from the US whereas in the 1950s they still existed in upper middle class neighborhoods.

                                                As you mentioned, there are never easy answers!

                                                1. re: Roland Parker

                                                  Well, I'm not *just* making a comparison to 50 years ago -- we last raised the minimum wage in 2008 with no disastrous effects (other than the ones everyone saw then, which we have a hard time pinning on that increase). We've had periodic increases over time with no disastrous effects.

                                                  It's shameful that nearly everyone gets COLA adjustments to their income except the poorest and most vulnerable among us. For a nation that goes around proudly claiming that it has God on its side, it sure acts in an abominably ungodly manner.

                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                    I agree overall, but to DOUBLE the pay of the lower paying jobs in the fast food industry would create shock waves and disruptions far beyond the industry.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      I don't think it would be as dire as you make out. If you smoke for 50 years, often chemo is the result. Some die, some live. Figure out how to run a business that treats its workers well, or shut your doors. Costco manages it, others can too.

                                                      1. re: JonParker

                                                        Costco also makes a lot of money just based on the fact that I pay money for the privlege of shopping there. Nobody is going to buy a McDonald's membership for $50 per year.

                                      2. are they sure they want to go there? they'll start competing with folks with B.A.s soon enough...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: superfuture48

                                          Exactly. I might be willing to pay more for a crappy burger, but I had better get the service I am paying for.

                                        2. Way back when I worked at McD's in high school, they had a good system for raises--based on reviews, tests you passed, longevity. Those who were most motivated made a decent amount, though it took time to get there. It takes management more time to administer but they'd keep the better workers that way. Good workers deserve that much more; bad ones, not so much.

                                          1. There has to be incentive to work as opposed to being on welfare.

                                            Regarding "Living Wage", I believe that all contractors who are awarded Govt. contracts are monitored that they are paying all staff at least a "Living Wage".

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: JAB

                                              You are correct, if you have a Government contract you must supply a "living wage" to your employees.

                                              1. re: JAB

                                                Completely agree with your first point.

                                                Do you think your taxes are too low or too high? If your policy is implemented, taxes have to go higher. No other way to pay for higher costs to government.

                                                1. re: Bkeats

                                                  There's no if. It's current policy to the best of my knowledge and confirmed by jrvedivici.

                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                    There is no such policy that applies to all governmental entities. The issue is being fought locality by locality. There was a heated battle about this between the city council and mayor in NYC this year. This will be my last post about this point as this strays too far into political positions. I know much more than the typical CH poster about these issues and choose to beat a hasty retreat rather than be drawn into an anonymous board discussion.

                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                      Well in fairness and to clarify I should have said "Federal" government, not state or local. I believe all companies who bid or receive contracts from the Federal Government, are required to have "living wage" practices in place for their employees.

                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                        If what I'm seeing with my boyfriend's job is normal, they are only required to pay their employees a living wage while working on that government contract.

                                                        He is an electrician's apprentice who normally makes $11.00/hr. While he was up working on a federal facility, I think he was making $36.00/hr or so? But as soon as he transferred back home, back to $11.00 he went.

                                                        Just thought I'd throw that out there.

                                                        1. re: Kontxesi

                                                          Not "living wage" but Bacon-Davis Act.

                                                          Requires local prevailing wages paid.

                                                          I used to be in a "reverse situation" than your boyfriend. We did work in Nevada and Utah, whose prevailing wages were lower than our home state of California.

                                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                                            He could go flip burgers and make $15 per hour.

                                                    2. re: Bkeats

                                                      Wow. That's just not true. If people are employed at a higher wage, the government takes in more in taxes even if tax rates stay flat.

                                                      Economics is not a zero sum game.

                                                      1. re: JonParker

                                                        Unless unemployment increases.

                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                          Not necessarily.

                                                          If wages go up and employment stays the same, more dollars are chasing after goods and services, which leads to inflation and the cost of those goods and services go up.

                                                          As inflation increases, it cost the government more money to conduct its business - everything from government employee salaries to expenditures.

                                                          It's a vicious cycle.

                                                      2. re: JAB

                                                        I used to be a US Federal Government Contractor, I don't remember a "Living Wage".

                                                        There have been attempts to pass a "Living Wage Law", afaik, they have all be defeated. There is a Minimum Wage Law, last I knew it was $7.25 hr.

                                                        There is the Bacon-Davis Act, requires "out of town" contractors to pay local prevailing wages.

                                                        Do you know the name of the law requiring the Living Wage.

                                                        1. re: Alan408

                                                          A quick bit of research proves you right. My appology for using "Living Wage" where I should have been using "Prevailing Wage".

                                                      3. While the idea of higher wages is very nice, why should a no-skill job be paid more than a job that requires skill? My step-dad is a school bus driver. He is paid about $14/hour. With this, we're saying someone who is flipping burgers should be paid more than someone who has gone through a lot of training and has the lives of hundreds of kids in his hands every day? But, the school district can't afford to pay their drivers more because of budget cuts, because of the bad economy.

                                                        And, in many areas of the country, $15/hour is more than a living wage. A couple years ago, I was living in Central CA (Fresno area). I was looking for a job, and found one for $14/hour, and that was considered very good. This is for administrative work that required some decent experience. It was tough, but I managed with that pay. When I was in Chicago, one of my first jobs there paid $12/hour. I rented a 1 bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood and even had a car with that wage. Could have done a 2 bedroom apartment a bit further out for the same price as my 1 bedroom.

                                                        If fast food is paying $15/hour, then other businesses will need to up the ante and pay actual skilled workers more, which will then either 1) put them out of business 2) cause them to hire less people or 3) increase the prices substantially of what they are producing. None of those would be good for rebuilding the economy... and I'm not even a republican!

                                                        I could maybe understand the wage increase in places that have a high cost of living, like the bay area and NYC (don't they already pay something like $10/hour in SF?). But in Detroit (like mentioned in the article)? C'mon now.

                                                        47 Replies
                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                          Because your step-dad is underpaid, everyone should be?

                                                          And your Chicago example is skewed. 15 years ago I worked as a receptionist for $10 an hour. I rented an apartment for $425 a month in Lakeview. Pretty good, right?

                                                          Except, guess what? That job STILL pays $10 an hour (probably from what I see in the job ads) but that apartment is now $850.

                                                          So, now what?

                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                            I'm not saying everyone should be underpaid. What I'm saying is, if you take an unskilled job like working at McDonald's (or low end retail or the grocery store or whatever) and basically double their pay, then how are places that need actual skilled workers going to keep up? Why would someone do something like drive a school bus for $14/hour when they could go serve up some fries with way less stress for $15/hour? So, like I said, the skilled jobs have to keep up, and pay more, maybe what, $20/hour? While it is great for the individual workers, it's not great for the economy as a whole. And what we need right now are things that are good for the economy as a whole so it can be rebuilt and flourish again.

                                                            And yes, the cost of living has gone up in Chicago since I've lived there. I was just giving it as an example. My 1 bedroom in Roscoe Village was $775, it's probably around $900-950 now (it wasn't super nice). My point was, even on $12/hour I lived a very comfortable life. $15/hour in most places is well above what is required as a "living wage" in my opinion.

                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                              It has to start somewhere. And if it starts at the bottom, then that's where it starts.

                                                              And, pardon me, but who are you to say that "flipping burgers" isn't stressful? Dealing with idiots all day. Hot grease splatters. Carpal tunnel. Being on your feet for hours at a time. Back problems.

                                                              I'm not sure how keeping a less-than-under class "flourishing" is good for the economy. We've seen exactly who is flourishing and it isn't 99% of the general public.

                                                              Is a destitute class something of which to be proud? And say it's good for the economy? That's so sad.

                                                              And I'm editing to look at your last Chicago example. Okay, let's say that old apartment of yours is now $950. The job still pays $12 an hour (no benefits). 40 hours a week, and let's generously say the take-home is $375 or $1500 a month.

                                                              After rent, you've got $550. And let's say that your heat is covered (if it's an older apartment with radiators) but those older apartments tend not to have central air (so you've got window AC that's a big power suck) and not the most efficient wiring anyway. Let's say $75 a month electric bill.

                                                              Down to $475. You can't afford a car and a monthly pass here is now $100.

                                                              Down to $375.

                                                              Crap! You haven't eaten yet!

                                                              Down to $175.

                                                              Cell phone? Cheapest Virgin Mobile plan - $30 a month.

                                                              $145 left and you haven't bought dish soap or laundry detergent or toothpaste or tampons or internet or seen a movie with a friend or bought a magazine or gotten a haircut or or or or...

                                                              How comfortable are you?

                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                Yeah, I've got to say, I'd much rather drive a bus a few hours a day (and likely get benefits for a less than full time job which is a rarity) than work my butt off in fast food for an 8 hour shift. The fast pace, demanding customers, physical hazards...oy!

                                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                                  there's a new class of youtube video where fast food workers are attacked by psychotic women demanding their "two dollar" back.

                                                                  1. re: catroast

                                                                    Well, YouTube is full of idiots. I like a funny cat video but I'll never understand acting like a fool and posting it online.

                                                                2. re: Violatp

                                                                  If you think "flipping burgers" is stressful, just wait until you get a real job. How about 30, full time accounts, 3 which are multi million dollar accounts for your company. Stressed out flipping burgers, no wonder you are making minimum wage.
                                                                  The real world awaits your arrival, take a chance and try it out.

                                                                  1. re: genoO

                                                                    Oh, aren't you charming and cute?? Just assuming that because I have empathy for a fast food worker that I AM one?

                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                      And, hence we see why upper management think it's perfectly fine to be paid the amounts they do while their workers can't pay their basic food bills.

                                                                    2. re: genoO

                                                                      if you have time to become a fat ass and play golf then your job isn't really that hard. account manager = bs job.it's for egotistical self-serving sociopaths, the sort who would disparage people for having a so-called lesser job. half of these guys work for their daddies

                                                                      1. re: genoO

                                                                        BTDT and yes, working fast food was far harder than any corporate job I've held. And, surprisingly, we never had to worry about paying the heating bill in the corporate world. I really can't imagine whining about having a high paying corporate position. If you think the lifestyle of flipping burgers is so much easier, do it. Nothings stopping you from leaving your "real" job.

                                                                      2. re: Violatp

                                                                        I've had a wide variety of jobs, from working in an ER to teaching skiing/group fitness/personal training to cushy corporate... Working fast food was the hardest, most exhausting, physically, emotionally, mentally. And, I was young at the time and only worked part time. People who think it's easy haven't done it.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          It is easy, 16 year old high school students have been doing it for decades.

                                                                          1. re: genoO

                                                                            Yes, except for the fact that it's now people well into their 20s and 30s working fast food jobs among, most often, 1 or 2 other jobs just to feed their families.


                                                                            1. re: genoO

                                                                              Corporate jobs are easy. People have been making tons of money sitting on their bottoms all day for decades.

                                                                          2. re: Violatp

                                                                            I can't help myself. I said that my previous post was going to be my last one because this thread was at danger of veering in the direction of people's political values but julie raises a critical issues that many fail to appreciate in discussions of living wages.

                                                                            As some have noted, by dictating a certain wage for a group that is viewed at the bottom of the wage scale, you put pressure on the points above. That will affect wages in other groups and ultimately costs of all goods and services.

                                                                            To put the effect to its most stark example, I'll resort to a little reductio ad absurdum. Millionaires have plenty of money, so let's set the minimum wage at a million dollars. After not so long, a million dollars won't go very far. There will be a huge inflationary spiral.

                                                                            In the long run, the only thing that can drive wages higher is higher productivity. That's what several of the articles that other posters have linked to are talking about. If you decide to raise minimum wage to a level that is equal to whatever your definition of a living wage is, in the long run you will just likely drive overall wage inflation and other costs higher. If you want to bring the bottom up and the top down, well that's another kettle of fish and that one is way too hot for me to touch.

                                                                            I promise this will be my last post on this thread.

                                                                            1. re: Bkeats

                                                                              If a fast food worker works harder, increases productivity, pay is still minimum and the owner pockets more. I expect a raise at work each year, although my productivity doesn't really increase. Your argument about paying everyone millions as you say is absurd. Just because we can't expect a million dollar raise doesn't mean we shouldn't be getting any raise. Would you accept that rationale from your boss?

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                btw a fast food walkout pressures the employer not the government. it is insane that anyone would bemoan mcdonalds employees for demanding a bigger piece of the pie. hell anything that might put them out of business is ok with me. but seriously, mcdonalds cannot possibly expect to reposition themselves as a lifestyle brand if their employees are misery cases - a decent wage is good for business.

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  Because it's an unskilled labor position where supply of labor is greater than demand.

                                                                                  A typical raise is just barely higher than inflation, which in turn is partly caused by raises in pay unmatched by raises in productivity.

                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                    Working the fast food industry is not a career. it is a stepping stone to bigger and better things, or at least for motivated people it is.
                                                                                    I have yet to see a Community College offer a two year degree in fast food preparation. That alone should be a hint since they offer most everything else. Where can a person go to school and sign up for "burger flipping 101" ?
                                                                                    It is what it is, motivate yourself to advance in life.

                                                                                    1. re: genoO

                                                                                      You are clearly out of touch with the harsh reality that - for the majority of fast food workers - it is nowhere near a "stepping stone" anymore, or a "summer job for teenagers".

                                                                                      These are adults who are trying desperately to make ends meet.

                                                                                      McDonald's recent "advice sheet" (the epitome of cynicism) for their slave laborers already takes into account having a second job to even be able to afford rent.

                                                                                      Must be nice up there with your a/c office and your million dollar accounts. Consider yourself lucky, and have some empathy.

                                                                                      I promise it won't hurt you.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        See, you just don't get it. I have always worked a blue collar job, very physical and demanding. Hard work, demanding more from yourself will pay off in the long run. I have worked a 2 jobs at a time, just a few hours from two full time jobs.
                                                                                        I worked the service industry, accounts most could not handle because it meant you need the skills of your trade and be able to handle customers who are big buyers. It means hard work and desire to succeed.
                                                                                        Get over yourself and start working for the future.

                                                                                        1. re: genoO

                                                                                          Oh, I get it, and I see no need to "get over myself".

                                                                                          Your personal experience is great, but anecdote is not the plural of data.

                                                                                          Enjoy your luck while it lasts.

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            Let's see, I am 59 years old, have lived in Mexico 11 years so that would be age 48 years old when I semi retired from the rat race.
                                                                                            I run a business here in mexico. My office is a 5 foot table from Home Depot, over looking the pool and gardens.
                                                                                            I do all the mowing of the lawns, rent 7 apartments to winter tourists, built a small Rv park out of the jungle. I do all the electric, plumbing and painting but still find time to play on my wireless internet.
                                                                                            I have web sites offering rentals and and known to offer the nicest RV park on the gulf coast of mexico.
                                                                                            I ended up with a GED from high school, worked by butt off for many years and am living a life many will never be able to foresee because they are too busy complaining that life is not fair.
                                                                                            I have never worked any thing besides blue collar. Ever.
                                                                                            Work hard, work smart and dream. Crying for help is being weak. You are the only one that has control of your destiny, not some freakin Union.

                                                                                            1. re: genoO


                                                                                              I have much respect for your work ethnic, and agree with you on several points. However, isn't it possible that not everyone is as tough as you? When we talk about public policy, we cannot use extreme people -- people who are very lazy and people who are very hard working as models. It just does not yield the best results.

                                                                                              Let me give you an example. Let's say you want to start a boxing training camp. You cannot use Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield as the models to create your training program. Most people simply cannot live through that level of harsh treatment.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                The only question is what to "give" to those people who cannot command a "living wage." If supply and demand = $5/hr, and you arbitrarily set minimum wage at $15/hr, then that person is getting $10/hr for nothing. Same job, just pays alot more. Who doesn't like that? But who's hurt by it? Where's the full analysis, including inflation?

                                                                                              2. re: genoO

                                                                                                I'm not a fan of your views, but I'd love to visit your apartments assuming you wouldn't preach to me. Or you could offer boxing lessons and we could duke it out. Whatever, I'm envious of your lifestyle. CK is right in saying that you're on the extreme end of the spectrum, and I applaud what you've done without thinking it's achievable for everyone, but I do applaud your effort.

                                                                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                  I too envy his life style and I want to rent the apartment next to you Jon, I'll do the preaching so genO can keep hacking away at his forest to accommodate more RV's.

                                                                                                  If you want to box it out I have to warn you, I'm a tad under 6'4", and a tad over 300lbs. I did put myself for auction on E-Bay to fight Mike Tyson, after his Peter McNealy fight. First person to pay me 3mill and give me 1 year to train and I offered to fight Tyson. (They also had to pay him whatever it would cost to fight me, however I offered him 75% of the pay per view revenue)

                                                                                                  My auction received some news attention but E-bay withdrew the auction prior to completion. Local lore has it the highest bidder at the time of termination of the auction was a collective effort of friends and foe, who all mutually wanted to witness me getting killed. (True story)

                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                    Fight? Did I say fight? When I said box I meant polish your shoes.

                                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                      No need for shoe polishing, my story was nothing more than a disclosure and nothing remotely near a threat.

                                                                                                      Listening to my preaching will be punishment enough. That and having to let me crash with you, when my pal MGZ comes to visit and hangs his baseball cap on the door, I know I gotta find somewhere to spend the night.

                                                                                                2. re: genoO

                                                                                                  Anecdote is not the plural of data.

                                                                                                  Consider yourself LUCKY for making it this far, and have some goddamn empathy for those who haven't. It's not a sign of weakness, Ayn. Really.

                                                                                          2. re: genoO

                                                                                            I hope, for your sake, that you never find yourself unceremoniously laid off in your 30's or 40's with no other skills than "account management."

                                                                                            I think you'd be surprised at how many former "account managers" are taking your burger order.

                                                                                            1. re: genoO

                                                                                              My grandfather smoked until he was 103. If people die of lung cancer, it's their own fault, not cigarettes.

                                                                                            2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                              "unskilled" is such an ambiguous and empty term. there are any number of white collar jobs which require little formal education to perform, where success is merely a matter of experience. the difference between an "account manager" and a "burger flipper" is the connection between the individual and the bottom line. it's a different configuration but does not require that much additional competency.

                                                                                              i am a scientist, let's see the account manager come perform my job, yet right now I am not making much more than a fast food worker ;x

                                                                                              1. re: catroast

                                                                                                If you are indeed a "scientist" and you don't make much more than a fast food worker, you should ask yourself why.

                                                                                                1. re: catroast

                                                                                                  People be nice.

                                                                                                  Project manager is a somewhat vague job, but it is not one of those things which anyone can do. Yes, it is not an official skill set like C++ programming or interpreting a LC-MS spectrum. It is what I would call soft skill set, but sometime soft skill set is very difficult to obtain. It links directly to a person personality and some people just cannot do it well. Think acting. Not everyone can be a good actor. One needs to have a big picture of the project, communicate with members in the project, keep the timeline, set up meetings, set up goals, write up minutes (summary), translate and rephrase team members, and motivate members. It is not an easy job. Yes, some people may think it is an over-paid job. Maybe it is, maybe it is not, but it is certainly not an easy job.

                                                                                                  Account manager is also a very vague job. Some account managers do a lot and work very hard and require very fineness to be successful. Other account managers have no real power and work more like observers.

                                                                                                  <i am a scientist, let's see the account manager come perform my job, yet right now I am not making much more than a fast food worker ;x>

                                                                                                  I assume you are not making much more than a fast food worker because you are a graduate student then, right? I went through that phrase too. $1300 for a month. Average to about $7 per work hour. Being a graduate student is a very different case. It is really more like going to Medical School. You are obtaining a degree.

                                                                                                  If you think about this carefully, your supervisor (your professor) actually works as your project manager. So I won't say it is an easy job.

                                                                                                  <the difference between an "account manager" and a "burger flipper" is the connection between the individual>

                                                                                                  I really don't think that is true, and I think you know that. Almost anyone can be flip a McDonald patty, not anyone can take care of accounts -- at least not well. I am not an account manager, but I have worked with account managers. It is not an easy job. You are correct. An account manager cannot do your scientist job (or my scientist job), but that does not mean it is easy.

                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                Well, I think that to some extent tying wages directly to directly to standard of living is wrong. If I'd made my last salary in 1972 I would have been considered rich -- I could have bought a house in a really nice neighborhood for roughly a quarter of my annual salary. Purchasing power is as much of an influence as actual wages. In real world terms my career enabled me to live comfortably but not richly.

                                                                                                As I mentioned elsewhere, when working a full time job enables you to barely afford rent and nothing else, we have a serious economic problem. Fantasies about pressure points are irrelevant to people who really and truly can't make ends meet. No amount of upper class theorizing is going to pay their bills -- they need help and they need it now. That's their reality.

                                                                                              2. re: Violatp

                                                                                                Not super comfortable, but still doable. If I had lived with a roommate I would be pretty comfortable. In fact, not being super comfortable is what encouraged me to get more education so I could get a better job. I didn't expect my employer to pay me more, especially since what I was being paid was the going rate for the type of work. I decided to change the situation for myself.

                                                                                                And as for saying flipping burgers is as stressful as driving a school bus full of 50 screaming kids through ghetto neighborhood is ridiculous. My stepdad has even had kids (usually the 10-11 year olds) physically harm him. He's not allowed to touch them.

                                                                                                Look, I have no problem with paying food workers more than minimum wage. But $15/hour is ridiculous and does absolutely nothing to help the overall good of the economy.

                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                  Did I say that being a busdriver *isn't* stressful? No, I did not. But, it's narrowminded of you to decide that fast food *isn't* stressful.

                                                                                                  And, I think you're being disingenuous with saying it's "doable." Walk in those shoes, first. In fact, walk in them with a couple of kids as many of those fast food workers have.

                                                                                                  I'm out of this thread. There are people who get it, but too many who seem to have a cruel streak.

                                                                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                    Just because people have a different opinion than you do does not make them "cruel".

                                                                                                    I have not worked fast food but I have worked in a grocery store in a not so great part of town. On my feet for 8 hours at a time, dealing with a lot of craziness etc. For $6.25 an hour, which was minimum wage at the time. Again, just like my $12/hour job that was later in life, working there taught me that I didn't want to do something like that for that kind of pay my entire life so I worked hard to change my situation. So, don't make assumptions that because I have the opinions that I do, that I haven't been there before.

                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                      different people view certain jobs as either transitory or permanent no matter how high up the ladder it may be. that is immaterial and should not influence the wage. Furthermore, wage cannot be wholly decided by employers because their motivation is bottom line and salary is not fully determined based only on quantitative metrics like job demand, cost of living, inflation etc. This is especially true of labour jobs as evidenced by the willingness to employ chinese slave labourers.

                                                                                                      1. re: catroast

                                                                                                        You just called Chinese slave labourers? What makes an unskilled American labourer any better than a Chinese unskilled labourer?

                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                          slave labourers because they are paid next to nothing by rich american companies

                                                                                                      2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                        Some end up there at the end of their working life after being model employees. I will never forget the day the 59th St Alexander's dept. store in NYC closed without warning any of its employees - who were standing outside the shuttered building, crying and holding onto each other, after discovering that the company had declared bankruptcy and was therefore not just canning all of them instantly, after pretending everything was fine, but of course also not going to pay a penny on any of their pensions. Jeez! If only they'd been "smart" employees and taken a shitload of phony sick days, etc. Unfortunately they were "stupid" employees who thought they'd be rewarded for their loyal service - and if there were to be a problem, that the GOVERNMENT WOULD PROTECT THEM from any corporate chicanery! What a bunch of shortsighted boneheads! Let's mock them!

                                                                                                        Once upon a time, when I was a kid, fast food jobs were classified as "trainee" jobs and they were entry-level jobs for teenagers with no work experience. Nowadays, as you all would know if you had any contact with anyone under 30, "trainee" jobs are "internships" - just exactly what my aunts and uncles had to do back in the bad old days of the Great Depression in order to eventually get a paying job. The only difference now is that these internships drag on for years, then lead to yet another unpaid internship, usually without actually leading to a paying job - partially because there is an unending supply of highly educated young people with massive student loan debt who will do ANYTHING, even work for free, if they think it may lead them out of their debt quagmire, and partially because they are very likely going to be competing with some older, even more desperate experienced workers without pensions or prospects, and for the same position.

                                                                                            3. re: juliejulez

                                                                                              If fast food workers are able to increase their salaries, then this will raise the pay for other industries. For many years the aircraft unions got raises that then elevated the salaries for the non-union, salaried personnel.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                Yes I mentioned that. If unskilled jobs increase pay, then skilled jobs will have to increase pay to get the workers they need. But since corporations etc don't like the idea of doing that, they will hire less, outsource more, and less hiring = less economic growth, as we've witnessed in the past 5 years or so.

                                                                                            4. If fast food workers get paid $15 per hour, they will be making more per hour than many skilled line cooks in top restaurants. I know, the line cooks should be making more. It's a difficult thing to force the economy to do something that supply and demand has not already done.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                If it changes on that end, it changes throughout. That's the thing about unions, they also benefit the non-members. Un=unioned carpenters make double in NYC what they make elsewhere - not what the union carpenters make (and what they should make) - but even when everyone is not, as they say, playing along, adjustments are made,

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Just because they are asking for $15.00 doesnt mean they will get $15.00 or even expect to get it . When negotiating , one always asks for more than they actually expect to get as they realize they will get a low counter offer .This is how many transactions in life occur , i request , you counter , we settle in the middle .Or maybe some other non financial benefit would be thrown in the mix , such as guaranteed hours or time off or free meals .At any rate in many areas , one cannot live on fast food wages . There is nothing wrong in asking for more money , every one does at some point ..

                                                                                                2. I don't know what to think of it.

                                                                                                  1. I view it as simple cause-and-effect: if companies are forced to pay what they deem too much for a simple job, they will automate more and employ fewer workers. It's the way of the future, for all of us in fact.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Niblet

                                                                                                      Maybe not all of us, or at least some of us will delay the inevitable a little longer. This is pretty off topic but The Economist had a nice feature on this a few years back. The main point was that the more varied your job the more resistant it is to automation. That's why auto workers are in such trouble (it's easy to make a robot that can weld a door) and certain medical specialties may be in trouble soon (there's a lot of work being done in image processing that could be applied to say interpreting a catscan). The jobs that involve doing many different things are harder to replace. So we'll probably have human custodians/handymen for a while.

                                                                                                    2. A minimum wage food worker job, after sufficient time and pain, is something that people should aspire to rise above.
                                                                                                      A government mandated doubling would turn our bruised economy upside down.

                                                                                                      1. I've read most of this thread. The full ramification of raising the minimum wage to $15 cannot be ascertained by even the brightest economic PhD at the University of Chicago. Us mere mortals can espouse our positions but nothing convincing can be accomplished in a forum such as this.

                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                          Actually, Milton Friedman from the University of Chicago was among the first economists to identify and describe the perils of "wage creep inflation".
                                                                                                          I'm just a lowly Wharton grad.

                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                            Yeah, but Friedman has been proven wrong on nearly everything. He's as credible a source as Captain Kangaroo.

                                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                              I think his wife Rose, and others, would disagree. I disagree more strenuously with Alan Greenspan's policies, bless his wife Andrea Mitchell.

                                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                I've read what you wrote. You are not nearly as credible as Milton Friedman. Mr. Friedman is a Nobel prize winner, are you? Is Mr. Kangaroo? Don't confuse your political views with delusion of grandeur.

                                                                                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                  "proven wrong on nearly everything"? Seriously?

                                                                                                                  1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                                                    I think it really depends what school of economics you are from. Some people really believe Milton Friedman theories on economics are all wrong and they are just coincidence on historical events. Others will say that John Keynes is wrong.

                                                                                                                  2. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                    captain kangaroo was from Chicago!

                                                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                      > Yeah, but Friedman has been proven wrong on nearly everything.

                                                                                                                      Care to support that assertion with anything more than a cheap Captain Kangaroo comparison?

                                                                                                                      I don't doubt that he's been *disputed* on nearly every argument he ever made. That's not the same as being proven wrong. The same could be said as facilely of Smith, Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Galbraith, Krugman -- of any significant economist.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                        Well, to start with, I don't think the internet in general lends itself to anyting more than facile arguments. Certainly a food discussion board does not. That said, I am a Keynesian, as you probably guessed, and while I don't consider this an appropriate forum for such debate, let's leave it as you consider Friedman credible, I do not, and leave it there. Taking it further down that path is not a direction CH should go.

                                                                                                                        I am more than willing to debate this with you until everyone either of us has ever known has died of sheer boredom, but not here.

                                                                                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                          If you reread my response more carefully, you'll note that I said absolutely nothing, zero, about which economists I consider credible. I was simply responding to your cheap shot on Friedman. It would have been equally cheap directed at Keynes or anyone else.

                                                                                                                          I also asked you to substantiate your assertion, which you have not done.

                                                                                                                          And you decry the level of discourse on the Internet.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Soul Vole

                                                                                                                            Fair enough. Too many internet discussions I have been involved in have boiled down to Keynes vs. Friedman, and I erroneously assumed that this was one of them.

                                                                                                                            I could make a substantial argument for the erroneous nature of Friedman's views, starting with the situation in Europe, but that has nothing to do with food. I made a wrong assumption, and I apologize for that.

                                                                                                                            So met any good chiles lately?

                                                                                                                      2. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                        I always thought Captain Kangaroo was one of the more credible persons on television.

                                                                                                                      3. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                        That certainly is part of the analysis.

                                                                                                                    2. Certainly, the minimum wage needs to be higher. But doubled? I don't know.

                                                                                                                      Slightly OT--do full time fast food workers get decent benefits (a separate issue from wages, to me, but maybe not to the employer)? Before his stroke last year, my husband worked in a big box home improvement store, since the construction trade in which he worked (and did well) absolutely dried up in 2008 and the years that followed. Their (box store's) tactic was to keep their ($10-an-hour) workers at part time status, in order to avoid having to grant health benefits, retirement, etc. This tactic is prevalent in a lot of industries, not just retail and service industries (around here--Boston--college adjuncts come to mind).

                                                                                                                      1. If a person believes they should be able to "live" on a minimum wage, then that's a *them* problem.

                                                                                                                        This only becomes an issue when one conflates emotional feeling with intellectual understanding.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                          I would argue it kind of starts when people who have to "live" on a non-living wage are trying to "live" around you. If this doesn't describe you, then lucky you. I guess.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                            I know accountants who don't make $15 per hour.

                                                                                                                        2. What I find remarkable in this debate is that nobody has discussed the fact that the fast food restaurants that are the subject of the strike make billions in profits, yet their employees earn so little that they often are forced to rely on state and federal support, pay no taxes, and often receive earned income tax credits. So when people complain that they would have to pay more for a burger if the minimum wage is raised, the reality is that they already are paying subsidies for those workers. If those workers earned enough so that they didn't have to rely on Medicaid, their children didn't need food stamps or federally subsidized school lunches, and they actually paid income tax (or spent more and wound up paying sales tax on their purchases), the increased cost of that burger will be more than offset on in increased tax revenues. Right now, taxpayers are subsidizing the extremely low wages that fast food restaurants pay, but the only ones benefiting are the corporations and their shareholders.

                                                                                                                          Further, it is an assumption that fast food companies will drastically raise their prices if their labor costs increase. It is by no means guaranteed. They still have to worry about competition. If McDonalds doubles the price of a Big Mac, but Wendy's does not raise their burger prices as much, McDonalds may lose customers. So while there may be some price increase from raising wages, it may not be as drastic as the industry claims.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Jwsel

                                                                                                                            Argh. I wanted to stay out of this thread but posts like this drive me crazy. The statement is made with great conviction but without any basis in fact. Do what I have done. Pull McDonalds 10-k. Look at their revenue and expenses. You can actually see a number for wages on the company owned stores. Assume a factor that's pretty conservative for the portion that represent the minimum wage worker. Say something like 50%. Double that cost now and flow it through the income statement. Viola. MCD is now a money losing business. Yes they make billions based on the scale of the business. Double the wages of the lowest paid the business is no longer profitable. If they had to do that, then the costs of all fast food stores would rise and so the menu items would go up. Demand for fast food is not inelastic so there would be a drop in customers and therefore business would decline and stores would be closed. So those who remained employed would be paid more, but the rest would be out of jobs. You can disagree with the ultimate affect on jobs but the numbers are the numbers from the financials. Yes fast food could pay more for their workers but double? I don't think it works.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                              You absolutely failed to respond to Jwsel's main point, which was that the taxpayers, even those who choose not to eat that garbage, are supporting the business indirectly. The idea that McD's can make billions while their workers have to rely on public assistance is the issue. Pay them a fair wage, or let their business die.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                Jon they pay the federal minimum wage, that's a legal wage as determined by the federal government. (Not arguing if its a livable wage) McDonalds is playing by the rules as they are. I can't see the reason to bash for playing by the rules.

                                                                                                                                You want to argue for a raise of the minimum wage, I will stand beside you, locked arms and fight the good fight with you. (Not to the $22. Per hour number) lol

                                                                                                                                But repeatedly bashing the business's for abiding by the current laws drive me crazy. As well as the argument it is somehow their responsibility to dispense their profits to their employees. McDonalds does not offer profit sharing, no company owes their employees anything based on profits. If profits go down should the door swing both ways and employees HAVE to accept lower wage? To me that's a ridiculous argument that goes against the fiber of a free market society.

                                                                                                                                If McDonalds is found in actual violation of minimum wage compensation etc. then perhaps I can defend the arguments. In reality they are working within the system, I can't sit and bash them. Change the system, I'm in, bash companies for operating with the system, I defend the company.

                                                                                                                                Again no ill will to any employee, CHANGE THE SYSTEM!

                                                                                                                          2. The National Retail Federation, having apparently enlisted Paula Deen's crack PR team, has issued a statement on the striking fast food workers:

                                                                                                                            The National Retail Federation (NRF) dismissed the strike as "theatre orchestrated by organised labor".

                                                                                                                            In a statement, Bill Thorne, the senior vice-president of the NRF, said: "Retail and restaurant jobs are good jobs, held by millions of working men and women, who are proud of what they do for their customers and the communities they serve across America. The planned walkout is the result of a multi-year effort by big labor to diminish and disparage these hard-working Americans by attacking the companies they work for. "

                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                              I estimate that labor is a sufficiently high expense in the fast food industry that if that expense were to double, probably every restaurant would suddenly be unprofitable. Margins are just not that high.
                                                                                                                              Companies are valued based on their earnings, and a company with zero earnings has zero value. Would a guy who ponies up a million bucks to open a McDonalds sit still and watch his investment disappear? Of course not, you will get his best fight. The best fighter out there is WalMart. They would close down a store before they would allow the infectious precedent of a unionized store.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                As far as I'm concerned any business that bases their profit margin on exploitation of their workers doesn't deserve to be in business. Infectious indeed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                  Business profits inure from employee productivity that exceeds its cost, by definition. At what point that gap can be called exploitation is a subjective one. Any low paid employee is free to go better himself elsewhere. Capitalism is brutal on those with low earning capacity. And the middle class, which I roughly define as those with IQ's between 90 and 120, is quickly becoming obsolete altogether.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                  And yet Costco pays a living wage and well outearns WalMart. Maybe Walmart needs to take note.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                    Nobody is going to pay $50 a year for the privlege to shop at Walmart like they do at Costco.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      Costco does not out earn Walmart. The story is about same store sales. The two have very different business models and customers. Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. It's customers are generally less affluent than Costco so it's sales suffer more in slow economic times.

                                                                                                                                      If we are posting links to random stories, here's mine.


                                                                                                                                3. Damn you jr. You've started another thread that I suspect will get locked. Keep up the good work.

                                                                                                                                  1. If you're not willing to do the job for the pay assigned to it, go to a class or get better training to get a higher paying job. These jobs fall under, "unskilled labor". Get a skill and you'll make more money. There's free typing classes, free computer classes, etc. Find them, take them and get a better job.

                                                                                                                                    I'm sure there are plenty of students, people looking for a second income, semi retired people and immigrants that have just come to this country that would be more than happy to make minimum wage.

                                                                                                                                    If you're a single mom with a couple of kids working at a fast food place, then you might of thought about that before you had children. Also, where's your child support from the father? Otherwise, move to MA so all the working people can pay for you to get Gov't assistance to the tune of $50k per yr.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: awm922

                                                                                                                                      This is my position exactly. If you feel that your time is worth $15 per hour, then go apply for jobs that pay $15 per hour. There are plenty of them out there; book keepers, admins, secretaries, dental assistants, school bus driver...

                                                                                                                                      If I came into work one day and told my boss that I needed twice the pay that I made yesterday I would get laughed at. These fast food employees wanting the same thing is just as laughable.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: awm922

                                                                                                                                        Well wait a minute there awm922. What if I am just plum lazy and prefer to drink malt liquor all day long and collect unemployment benefits rather than work for $9/per hour at Jack in the Box? I think and demand that I have a constitutional right to make $15 per hour working there even if I have little to no skills. It is my right!

                                                                                                                                      2. We've had to remove a number of responses from this discussion, and it's becoming increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.