Living Wage, Fast Food?

As fast food workers take to the streets across the nation, we ought to reflect on just what the Republicans’ cut first and ask questions later ideology has wrought in American society. The New York Times has run a couple of stories profiling people who for years were part of the nation’s middle class who now find themselves staring at their 60s working low wage jobs. That’s also happening in fast food. We also need to consider the fact that the average age of an American fast food worker is now 29.

 

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That’s hardly the fresh faced teenager trying to save up for college, or someone who needs a little supplemental income. Fact is, times have changed. That’s why their demand for $15 dollars an hour sounds entirely reasonable to me. Especially in light of what moneymen in expensive suits are getting ready to do to the city of Detroit. How are they connected, you ask? The city is now able to declare bankruptcy (not necessarily a bad thing), and at the same time cut retiree pensions (an awful thing). The rationale? Things have changed. Detroit is broke. It can’t pay an average $19,000 a year to people who’ve worked for their city, no matter what the state constitution says.

Times have changed.

So if that’s true in Detroit, why does the fast food industry cling to an old, timeworn view of who their employees are? Haven’t times changed in fast food? Burgers don’t cost a quarter anymore. The head of McDonald’s makes more than $8 million a year. The industry pushes back against demands for a living wage by threatening to bring in automation. Don’t buy it. Automation costs lots of money. Besides, would you want your burger flipped and packaged by Uniblab?

Long story short, I support fast food workers, even though I rarely eat fast food. The days when the big fast food operators can alibi and excuse their low wage-no benefit behavior are coming to an end. After all…..

Times have changed.

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