When fast food began in the United States the majority of those employed by those companies were still in school. The jobs were part time, and provided necessary economic assistance for the students. As our economy worsened, and many jobs were sent away from our shores, some were forced to take any job available. Fast food chains were given a larger selection in their work force, and a more experienced one. However, pay did not increase with experience and seniority. Monday fast food workers are going on strike in at least seven cities.
The strike is ‘all about the money.’ The majority of those employed in the fast food industry are paid minimum wage, $7.25 per hour. They are demanding $15.00 an hour. They also want to be represented by a union.
The planned strikes are taking place in Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Mich., Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, New York and St. Louis at various Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s franchises.
Fast food employees are part of the 80 percent of Americans who are working, but working in jobs that keep them in or near the poverty level, depending upon the city in which they live. And there are no benefits offered. These employees are included in the widening gap in income levels as shown by the 2010 Census.
A fast food worker given a 40 hour week, working 52 weeks a year, would gross just over $15,000 in a single year. Franchise owners are reluctant to give employees full time status, which under the new laws would require them to offer benefits. The average working person is offered less than 30 hours per week.
The ‘Living Wage’ project says that in order to live without additional assistance in New York, a wage earner would need to make a minimum of $12.75 an hour. New York is poised to raise the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. If that employee had a child, the number would need to be $24.69.
Unions are encouraging today’s strike. Union employees make 27 percent higher wages than non-members.
Owners of service-based industries may have no option but to consider at least some of their employee’s demands. Fast food joints can’t ‘outsource’ the cooking of a hamburger.
Only time will tell if Monday’s strike by fast food workers will see positive results.
Alfred James reporting