Fast-food strikes are occurring in approximately 50 cities across the United States. No, these protesters are not marching against the unhealthy food at fast-food joints; rather, the protesters are employees at these restaurants who are protesting that they don’t get paid enough to work in fast food. I repeat: they believe they don’t get paid enough to work in fast food.
Fifteen dollars is the arbitrary number these protesters arrived at that they believe they should be paid. In many cases, that’s double the minimum wage they are currently being paid. Fifteen dollars is a 50-percent increase from the starting salary at Best Buy ($10 per hour), a place that requires actual knowledge of the technology sold there (all-important in this tech-driven society) and more direct and involved customer service in more prolonged periods of interaction with customers. As low-skilled as the jobs at Best Buy are, they still require more skill than standing in a fast-food window, getting people’s orders wrong, and mumbling ghetto-like at the customers when taking their orders.
I’m not saying there is no skill involved in handing someone a paper bag of food and not spilling soda over the sides of the cup (in fact, judging from the Cola-dripping sides of the cups they hand me, it does seem to be a task that requires quite a bit of skill); I am merely saying that in relation to most other jobs that require other skill sets, the skill sets required of a fast-food employee are almost non-existent. And embarrassingly so, which is why people who work at McDonald’s never seem to want to talk about where they work.
So what will happen if McDonald’s doubles its employees’ pay? They will then increase the prices of their food, which will make it harder for low-income families to enjoy a cheap dinner. Not only that, but it would significantly reduce the employees’ ambition. The people working at McDonald’s will become complacent in their humble jobs and they will not seek out a better, more respectable job that pays $16/hour since that $16/hour job will likely require far more skills than the McDonald’s job. Will fast-food employees who make $15/hour really want to get a different job that requires much harder work and longer hours yet pays only $1 more? No. They will accept their go-nowhere job if another job with much more growth potential but higher difficulty pays virtually the same thing.
The rally cry from all the unions is, “Strike for a living wage!” A living wage? Working at McDonald’s? Why would we want that? If they earned a living wage, they will work there for the rest of their lives. They will sink into complacency and the country will become even mushier and lazier than it already has. Truly, the best thing McDonald’s franchise owners can do for their striking employees is to fire them. That would encourage them to find a different job, since they obviously won’t do that on their own.