Food for Thought

by Deborah Z Mark

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I picked up breakfast at the fast food drive-thru this morning.  Maybe you did, too.

Today, May 15, is the day that fast food workers around the globe are on strike in an effort to gain better pay and working conditions.  Workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and others are participating.

Protest

Strikes and protests are taking place in over 150 U.S. cities and 33 other countries.  Workers say their take-home pay is not enough to live on, and are looking for hourly minimum wages to be increased to $15.

Franchise owners are protesting as well.  Franchises are small businesses, and most say they will not be able to stay in business if they must pay their workers the $15 per hour they want.  Many agree that there is a disparity between minimum wage and living wage.  They philosophically agree with the concept of raising the minimum wage.  But they worry that drastic pay hikes will be the death of their businesses.

Take a Stand?

Business owners are afraid to speak out against the popular stance to increase wages because they risk losing both customers and employees.  But they worry that if they don’t say anything, the high costs will slowly strangle them.

Wage increases are opposed by groups such as the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association.

If They Can Do It…

Seattle ice cream chain Molly Moon’s, with about 70 employees, says it has been paying some workers $15 per hour for several months.  Tipped employees earn that much when their tips are included.  (No information is available regarding what their hourly wage is before tips.)  The company also offers health care benefits and paid sick leave.  The owner claims to have profit margins of 15% to 20%, and believes that if her company can do it, big companies can, too.

I don’t know about you, but all of this is making me hungry.  Think I’ll head out for a burger before they raise the prices.

And yes, I’d like fries with that.

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