Fast feud: Five reasons why fast-food workers should get $15 an hour

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McDonald's recent posting of a hypothetical household budget for its minimum- wage employees has birthed an Occupy-style French fry revolution. Frustrated, vastly underpaid fast-food workers across the country are now asking their employers to raise their earnings from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 per hour, and both wishful thinking and emotions are running high enough that employees have staged job walkouts in at least seven cities so far.

Here are five reasons why fast-food workers should be paid more.

See also:

-Minimum wage goes up 28 cents an hour: Our ideas about how to spend that windfall

-Shortchanging America: Nickel & Dimed reveals a culture that cheapens workers' lives

-Ten worst restaurant freak-outs

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5. Because fast-food jobs aren't just for teenagers anymore

Over the past week many media outlets have done an excellent job debunking the oft-repeated -- and much-believed -- myth that fast-food employees are primarily suburban teenagers making a little extra chump-change for mall trips. That may have been the truth at one time, but not anymore. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median fast-food worker is actually about 29, and 40 percent of minimum wage workers are 25 to 54. When the economy got flushed down the toilet not too long ago, swathes of middle-management jobs ended up in the septic tank, and these workers had to go somewhere.

Fast-food workers these days aren't so much interested in pocket money for trifles so much as food for their mouths, clothing for their asses, roofs over their heads and decent lives for their kids.

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4. Because the current minimum wage is not enough to live on

It's difficult bordering on impossible for fast-food workers to live on $7.25 an hour, especially at a time when companies are slashing full-time positions (if any were available in the first place) and cutting back hours to circumvent Obamacare, and thus avoid having to pay for workers to receive adequate health bennies. The biggest reason that the McDonald's household budget chart pissed off so many people is because it was predicated on the assumption that a McJob wasn't enough to provide basic necessities, and those employees had second jobs to make up the difference.

Ergo, McDoo was admitting openly that its workers didn't make enough money to live on, under the guise of trying to assist workers in spreading out their peanut-pay.

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3. Because in some places, fast-food jobs are as good as it gets

Another obvious non-secret is that many fast-food workers don't really want to be fast-food workers, and if better, higher-paying jobs were available where they lived, they would ditch the fry baskets pretty f*cking fast. Rural areas and poverty-ridden urban centers don't exactly offer a delightful smorgasbord of jobs to choose from, and the contention that fast-food employment is an entry-level job doesn't cut the mustard in places where there is no step up the ladder -- except fast-food supervisor jobs that pay a few measly dimes more.

So why don't these people move? Relocating is not exactly cheap, either.


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52 comments
beachlb
beachlb

It's a sense of entitlement in this country that is killing our economy.  I'm sorry that you don't want to go to school and further your education and better yourself to make yourself marketable to higher paying jobs.  I went to school for a Vet Tech degree and the avg wage here is $14/h, in a medical field.  You are not entitled to a100% pay raise because you feel like you should have it.  Working at a fast food restaurant is no rocket scientist job.  No education required.  I get tired of this lazy nation who want to do the bare minimum possible and be given everything! 

Michelle Pearl Mobley
Michelle Pearl Mobley

While the upper management are making millions in pay and stock options, they are doing it on the back of the working class poor...and sticking it to the gov't at the same time.

Michelle Pearl Mobley
Michelle Pearl Mobley

Huh? Have you been to a McDonald's lately? They are heavily staffed with Latinos who have no grasp of English. A free standing location or a McDonald's that is located in a mall, Walmart, etc...they are loaded to the gills with undocumented workers.

Rich Madison
Rich Madison

Absolutely not. A zero-skill job deserves zero-skill pay.

Chad DuVall
Chad DuVall

Yup. They just upped the federal minimum wage to 7.something p/h a few years ago. Purchasing power has been dropping significantly. Quantitative easing hasn't helped either.

Mitch Stiles
Mitch Stiles

Fast food workers should start on minimum wage, but your minimum wage is pretty low, it's over $16 in Australia.

Tracey Nichols
Tracey Nichols

ALL MIN wage earners NEED a raise!! Min wage has NOT kept up w/inflation, it has not been sustainable in 30 yrs!! It was designed to sustain a single person in a less than avg apt..wont get u room in a box anymore!!

Chad DuVall
Chad DuVall

That's asinine. I made 10 p/h at a bank and 12 p/h as a Service Adviser at a dealership (which was INCREDIBLY stressful). You don't just get more money because you "think" that it's fair. This whole debacle shows a lack of ingenuity and ambition on the part of these workers, who should only use a job like this as a stepping stone or to get by when nothing else is available. I'm getting sick of the entitlement culture we live in. If you don't feel like you're being compensated well, then get smart and start your own business or find a better paying position. The unions would just LOVE a slice of this pie. Don't give it to them.

Daniel James Plummer
Daniel James Plummer

I agree that need a raise but definitely not 15 an hour. My mother does closing for a bank (you know, actually requires some skill) and makes less than that. Whether or not her personal income is the actual travesty here is another question, but I do feel that's too high.

stupidamerica
stupidamerica

Raising the minimum wage or raising the hourly pay of some low-skill workers is not going to fix anything. It's called inflation. Want better pay and a living wage? Pay more attention to candidates who insist on a change in monetary policy. Once the minimum wage goes up, the price of everything else up too. These fast food workers don't live in a bubble. Besides, $15 an hour is crazy. I know of labor jobs and skilled jobs that don't pay that much. Get real. Don't like the pay? Find another job. Can't find another job? Get an education so you can. America wants unbridled capitalism but they don't want to accept the issues that come with it. In a society where the rich get richer it's bound to happen that some are left behind. Don't like that? Then don't support these companies. Put your money where your mouth is. 

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

it's a hard job it sucks, but really $15 an hour. if they get $15 an hour every single fast food chain will automate their entire line within a year. and it would make more sense to get robots to make sandwiches anyway, robots won't spit in your food or lick your tacos.

Mel Moore
Mel Moore

$10.50. That's just enough of an incentive to find another job...

Noah Yetter
Noah Yetter

Wages and prices are set by the interaction of supply and demand in the marketplace. If you think your arbitrary judgment of what someone's wage (or some product's price) "should" be is superior to the market's you are in for a serious reality check.

Yanka Skyton
Yanka Skyton

Some fast food locations are already paying 14 in hour (for example, idaho springs, CO) so suggesting a $10 would actually decrease their wage. The pay should reflect the cost of living. Federal and states min wage do not make sense as the cost of living is not the same in all cities.

Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson

I've been advocating for better wages in foodservice for some time now--to deaf ears. We're not just talking fast food here. Line cooks in Denver, even at the "hot spots" with their celeb chefs are starting in the $9-10/hr range. Starting wages haven't budged since the '90's! Sous chefs are working 60+hours/week for 30k/year. That's a part time and full time job for the price of one. Checking rents in Denver lately, you either have to get roommates or live in a shithole to get by. And check out craigslist or Hcareers--many positions are looking for culinary degrees. Pile student loans on top of it. My place of work is not much better, but at least provides paid time off and offers benefits. Gotta get off my soap box and mop the floors, my dishwasher called in sick...

Carrie Turrentine
Carrie Turrentine

I think health care workers such as myself deserve heath care..I work for people in the health care industry and I don't make 15$ or have health care ..

Wayne DeNucci
Wayne DeNucci

No ! they deserve what they get they are always mess up my orders and they never show up to work on time

Kevin Richards
Kevin Richards

It is a stepping stone job, so no. You should get what your labor produces. Anyone is capable of making food, it requires no special skills.

Aaron Blauer
Aaron Blauer

Sounds like a good way to massively increase unemployment.

Dennis Scalf
Dennis Scalf

Let's see, if they're older than 18, speak English as their native tongue, can remember what I said the first time an don't have a criminal history, then they might deserve 12/h but if not then Fuck no. Work hard to earn the pay raise like the rest of us shhiiiittttt

Mike Bailey
Mike Bailey

Up next..... A $20 is the new $1 bill. Do you want a 5 dollar pickle on that 20 dollar mcshit sandwich?

Daniela Cabello
Daniela Cabello

Interesting. Food service jobs in hospitals can make about that much, and it's very similar to the work done in fast food.

Michael Sabin
Michael Sabin

No....Its not a skilled position, If they have a degree and become Manager, GM.....hmmmm There you go.....

James Gold
James Gold

That's a little much, but there's no doubt about it that it's taxing work and they deserve more than minimum wage. NO ONE can live off minimum wage unless they're a triple income family or something.

Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas

I doubt McDonald's hires people who are not legal to work in America

Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas

no but they do need a raise - i think $10 is about right

Kristina Gorman
Kristina Gorman

maybe but forming a union is not a bright idea , good luck

Harold Robbins
Harold Robbins

Only if they're American sorry but it had to be said

Skid Jarrett Gilmore
Skid Jarrett Gilmore

Mickey D's could even cut their advertising budget in half and afford to pay employees better. As if they even need to advertise anyways being as prolific and well known as they are, but then the heads of advertising agencies wouldn't make millions...

Josh Barrack
Josh Barrack

Stop already. You're in Denver, not NY or LA. Look at job listings. They pay tech support workers less than $15 per hour.

jenaintbright
jenaintbright

Once again injecting politics into Cafe Society, I see.  There isn't a legit economist out there that believes in minimum wage.  It hurts those that it's supposed to help.

Perhaps if people don't want to work a fast food gig, they should educate themselves, learn a skill or trade, etc.  Capitalism works both ways.  The market will pay what it will, and individuals can choose to work elsewhere.  Considering that NYC is the nexus for this debate, I have a hard time finding any sympathy for anyone bitching about their job at a fast food joint when there are thousands upon thousands of other places they can work.

In addition, since I work in the industry, I know a number of people who make about $10/hour and, because they aren't morons: own their own cars, own a home, support their children, etc.


jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Squi Rrel I think robots can--and will--do those things.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Carrie Turrentine I think you should make $15--and more. : ) Especially if you are one of the health care workers who is nice to sick people.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Kevin Richards You're giving fast food employees a lot of credit when you suggest that they are "making food." Which does, by the way, require special skills. Serving fast food does not.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Dennis Scalf Plenty of people who claim English as their native tongue are completely unintelligible. Many immigrants who have learned English since coming to the U.S. speak better English than probably half of our high school students.

ballpark
ballpark

The main difference being hospitals aren't in the business of selling food. The jobs may be the similar but the businesses aren't.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Josh Barrack And they always forget to put extra pickles on my computer.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@jenaintbright If there was no minimum wage law, employers would pay workers .50 cents an hour, and also beat them with sticks.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@jenaintbright "There isn't a legit economist out there that believes in minimum wage."

There also isn't an economist out there who's ever had to work a minimum wage job, or do anything that actually contributes to the economy.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Jon_S But Rush Limbaugh is a self-taught, legit pharmacist, right? : )

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Jon_S To paraphrase Kent Brockman: Joblessness is no longer just for economists - useful people are starting to feel the pinch too.

jenaintbright
jenaintbright

@Jon_S Hyperbole?  Perhaps.  But the bulk of studies fall on the side that minimum wage laws are harmful economically.  

Can't say I've ever listened to a minute of Rush, either.

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