Fast Food Workers Stand Up for Fair Minimum Wage

McDonalds McRibThe last time I saw $14 million was in my dreams. And, that’s probably the only place I will ever see it. But, for gazillionaire CEOs like Don Thompson of McDonald’s Corp, that’s just the estimated value of their pay packages. Oh, to be a CEO of a company which has convinced fat people that french fries in a different oil are healthy and that rib sandwiches don’t have to ACTUALLY include any ribs…from any animal…on Earth.

Well, McDonald’s employees seem like they might be a little tired of the unequal treatment. They, and employees of other retailers and fast food chains, walked off the job last week to demand a livable minimum wage. Petitioning the federal government for a nationwide minimum wage of $15.00 (or a little more than $30k annually), US workers took to street corners and curbs on Thursday to express their disdain with current employment practices at the nation’s largest private companies. Too bad they didn’t get the memo that congressional Republicans don’t give a crap about morally responsible legislation.

By now, you have probably heard something on the news about employed persons in these types of low-skill jobs needing to depend on federal aid in order to supplement their regular hourly wages. Taxpayers are footing the bill for roughly $7 billion in food stamps, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), other tax credits, etc. Isn’t that an interesting factoid? An industry which produces food pays such low wages that its own employees are forced to have their meals subsidized by the federal government. Oddly enough, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart know their employees are struggling per their recent efforts to promote other sources of food aid and support.

Though many believe the $15 per hour ask is a bit high, employees are continuing to request that the $7.25 per hour rate be lifted to a non-poverty state. And, Republicans continue to push the argument that raising the federal minimum wage would cause small businesses to reduce jobs. But, studies have shown that an increase of a few dollars would have no effect on current unemployment rates.

In other words, these companies are well aware that their employees are struggling to feed their families and pay the bills each month. They also know that the minimum wage is unlivable. And, they have mathematical data proving that raising the wage will have no impact on their employment levels. So, what’s the hold up in Congress? Why don’t we have a bill on the floor yet?

Here’s the thing, House Republicans just voted unanimously on Friday to shoot down a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over the next two years.

Getting sick yet? I know I am.

Luckily, some states, like California, have instated their own minimum wage requirements to help assuage the tension the workforce is feeling. But, not every state is as liberal as Cali. So, there will still be millions of workers impacted by Congress’ lack of accountability.

As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, bread and butter issues like these will continue to increase in importance. All we can do for now is hope that workers’ efforts and rights will raise in importance as we continue through this very important time in public policy.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

1 Response

  1. Aidan Monis says:

    Don’t forget the demands the workers are making for recognition of their unionization efforts. This is arguably more important that the demand for a wage increase, as it would provide workers with a more democratic workplace and help set the stage for a larger resurgence of organized labour. The mainstream media has willfully ignored this crucial demand, as it is totally outside the pail of modern political discourse. I cannot more strongly support efforts to increase the minimum wage, but it must be accompanied by greatly increased control over working conditions, benefit packages, job protection and the right to collective bargaining.