It's been a year since the campaign to raise service sector wages began and on Thursday, August 29, fast food workers picketed outside restaurants, like Burger King and McDonalds in over 60 U.S cities. This protest is said to be the largest since the living wage campaign began. Strikes were held in cities such as New York right down to those southern cities that historically do not engage in organized protest as easily. Amongst the demands made is a $15 an hour wage, which is twice what the federal government stipulates. Workers also want to be able to unionize and be able to collectively bargain for wages and not have to face the fear of retaliations.
Living on $7.50 an hour wage is hard and some employees have been working at these fast food restaurants for as long as 10 years and are nowhere near getting more than $7.40 an hour. $15 sounds like an impossible wage to aspire to but according to the advocacy groups like the National Employment Law Project (NELP), front-line fast food workers should at least be making $8.94/hour. In Detroit 100 protesters marched for a living wage, in Atlanta only 20 fast food workers presented their managers with strike notifications before walking out. In Oakland, 80 fast food workers from various fast food restaurants protested outside a KFC outlet.
Some politicians lent their voice to the protest action. According to researchers and analysts, a minimum wage for fast food workers could get to $17 per hour if inflation kept up and productivity was as high. The argument that most low wage earners in fast food restaurants were unskilled is not completely true as nearly 70% of these fast food workers are over 20 years old and some even hold college degrees. He added that in many cases, low pay was not justified by a worker's lack of marketable skills. Sometimes, it’s a case of someone needing a job and being unable to find one that he or she is qualified for but cannot get because the economy is bad.
You would think an industry that makes $200 billion a year, people would at least get a minimum wage but restaurant chains and trade groups say that they aren't raking it in as most people think especially when people considered the millions of people who get employed by these retail chains. The alternative is far worse as an Ad ran by the Employment Policies Institute suggested that if employers paid higher wages they would find it cheaper and efficient if robots made pancakes. One can either raise prices or automate jobs for fast food franchisees to make some real returns. If we didn't have people who started off at such places, we wouldn't have people who cited having their first job at a McDonald's and going on to becoming something big. The greatest stories always start off with a waitressing job or a paper route or some such job that paid less than minimum wage. The “american dream” always seem to involve rising from the lowest point.