*So fast-food workers want to force companies to pay them at least $15 an hour in wages and they want the right to unionize.
Yes, the people who ask you “Do you want fries to go with that shake?” say they deserve to earn at least $31,000 a year, which is more than the take-home pay of 25% of Americans. As for what they plan to discuss at the union meetings, I don’t know, maybe they want to iron out who has trash duty and who has to cut up the onions.
The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Some states have set their own minimum. Washington state set the highest minimum at $9.19 an hour, but apparently even that’s not enough for people who serve fried food and drinks at a walk-up counter or through a sliding glass window. They say they can’t make ends meet with that small amount, can’t pay their bills with that, can’t support a family on that. Newsflash! The job never was intended to do all those things to begin with. And had they taken time to do simple math before they took the job they should have realized there would be more month left at the end of their money.
And speaking of simple math: Most of the employees don’t know how to count change back without looking at the register. Once when I bought a meal at KFC my bill came to $7.48. I gave the cashier a $10 bill and three pennies and all hell broke loose, because the register wasn’t working and the cashier couldn’t count. And these are the people who say they deserve a raise?
I used to work at Wendy’s while I was in high school and at Burger King while I was in college. So I have nothing against working at fast food joints, but the reality is some jobs are not meant to be long-term. Your first job isn’t meant to be your last. Fast food wages aren’t meant to pay a mortgage. A cell phone bill or gas for the car maybe, but not much more. If you need to earn more money than what fast-food pays – here’s an idea – get a degree or a skill in a field that will allow you to make the amount of wages you need and leave the fast-food work to the teenagers with little to no financial responsibilities.
Many people’s first job is in the fast-food industry. You learn basic work skills such as showing up on time, good customer service, salesmanship, paying taxes and – the biggest lesson of all – it’s not something you want to do for the rest of your life!
And although nobody (except myself) seems to have thought this far ahead, if fast food companies are forced to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, other industries whose employees already earn $15 an hour will then be forced to raise their hourly wage to at least $20 and so on and so on. And that union they want so badly; take $2 out of every $15 for monthly dues to organize and maintain it. Union representation can be useful, but it ain’t cheap.
And speaking of expensive: A fast food burger (not those tiny ones on the dollar menu with more bread than beef) costs almost $3 already. If workers get their wish, the price of a burger is bound to go past $4 to pay for that raise. Tainted beef scares and the rising costs of fast food might be enough to do in even the most popular burger joints. Where will that leave fast food employees? Feeling like the middle of doughnut: left out when they get laid off.
This is the latest in what has become the dumbing down of Americans. People want to get more in exchange for giving less. Some people don’t want to challenge themselves to do more. They don’t want to go to school, they don’t want to start at the bottom and work their way up. They don’t even want to take ownership of past behavior such as criminal offenses or drug use. Some states have made it illegal to ask applicants if they have criminal records. Instead, they want it all right now. And if they get it, in a few years they’ll say that’s not enough. Before long some people will want to make high school graduation optional.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for questions, comments and speaking inquiries.