All across the country, in over 100 cities, fast food workers are refusing to work until they get better pay. This is just an instance of the glaring and long overdue need to raise the federal minimum wage reaching headlines. Fast food jobs with low wages are not rounded out by providing terrific working conditions or careers that lend a sense of deep fulfillment. People in these jobs do not frequently get opportunities to move up in the company and out of the kitchen, or even benefits that allow them to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The least employers could do is pay workers, enough to support themselves, for work that is taxing, thankless, and monotonous. After all, fast food workers need to eat too.
Fast food chains are notoriously poor providers of benefits and opportunities to advance. Yet these major companies are not running short on profits by any means. Their greed has grown just as quickly as their profits, maybe faster, which have continued to soar since 2006. When people were losing their jobs and homes, burgers still remained in high enough demand for major fast food chains to continue growing.
While those at the top continue to get more money and keep more, by creatively avoiding taxes, they do everything they can to halt union activities. Many managers are even rewarded with bonuses when they are able to reduce employees’ wages. Shareholders do nothing other than sit and collect ever increasing amounts of money, while the workhorses of the businesses are held in squalor.
While some news providers have attempted to emphasize that this could cost workers jobs, these organizations, which generally cater to the interests of those who would like to eradicate government assistance programs, have failed to discuss all of the people who struggle to maintain even a low quality of life and stay off of such programs despite full-time employment in fast food jobs. It is more than likely that they support the mentality of those who use loopholes to avoid paying taxes on CEO pay. While the big wigs get fatter and fatter paychecks, fast food workers are struggling to let them know that they need to eat too.
Fast food workers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, and Bruegger’s Bagels have gone on strike to demand higher pay. Twenty-six percent of these workers are raising children and one worker commented on the low wages by saying “I can’t take care of my household, I can’t even take care of myself.”
More and more these jobs are being held by adults, rather than just high school students trying to earn spending money and work experience. It is a sad situation for many families. It is a critical juncture at which people are demanding a federal minimum wage increase to $15, more than double the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Corporate America has gotten out of control. It seems as though all of the CEOs are forgetting that a better paid workforce means paying people money which they can then also spend on fast food.
We can only hope that in time for the holidays some of these companies will opt to reward employees for working hard at jobs that keep their businesses going. Who knows, if they entertained the idea of paying fast food workers enough to be able to eat, the resulting boost in morale might even boost profits. It doesn’t seem right that these undervalued employees don’t have enough money to buy gifts for Christmas, let alone put a holiday meal on the table for their family, without the need for food stamps.
By Lara Stielow