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Fast-food Workers Rally Nationwide For Higher Wages

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  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Fast food workers all over the country are striking and protesting over the current minimum wage. On 12/5/2013, hundreds even held a national rally. Their cry in a nutshell: take the minimum wage from the current $7.25/hr to $15/hr.

    The worker's position makes sound, logical sense. They simply don't make enough money to realistically survive long term in this economy. Many fast food workers are on food stamps and/or other various government aid. Also, many bring home a monthly net income that falls clearly below the national poverty line.

    Some economists argue that raising the minimum wage won't help lower the rising number of poverty stricken in this country. They point to examples in the past that support their claim. On the flip side, other economists say that of course a higher wage will help. All that will change is that employers won't get quite as big of bonuses, and that's only fair. To have a successful economy, workers need to able to survive comfortably.

    I think that pointing to this or that stat is silly and really just cherry-picking data to help tailor your argument. There are about a zillion different factors that make up bottom-line failures and successes in any given economy. But the fact remains, you can't really support a family with full self-sufficiency working at MacDonalds for $7.25 an hour.

    So, what should we do? Raise the minimum wage? Should it really double? Or is asking for $15 an hour a classic bargaining technique where you ask for more than you think you will actually get? That way, when the nation and Congress actually have this conversation they can say, "Well, you can't have $15 an hour. That's too much. But, how about $10 an hour?" (Or something to that effect). Then the workers will be in a good spot. They can either counter again. Or, they can accept the compromise, as in reality any raise was exactly what they were after in the first place.

    Barack Obama has already said that he believes the minimum wage should be increased. Months ago he said it should go up to $9/hr. He just recently came out in light of the protests saying that $10/hr is fair. What do you think a fair compromise would be, if any?
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I think what many people seemed to forget that these Fast Food places are actually small business's and are only tied to the Corp. Hdqrs. by using the Corp. logo and their products and also most Corp. promotions, the actual hiring and firing is done on an individual store basis with the Corp. core philosophy being adhered to as it pertains to EEOC rules , the wages are set at the local level, hence the different starting wages in some of the same Fast Food restaurants in the same geographic area. The end game here will be that the wages will go up, probably not to $15 per hr. and then the local owners will compensate by either laying off workers and or by cutting hours worked, so where is the net gain, other than those employee's who reaped the benefits but on the backs of their fellow workers .Each family must inventory their own wants and needs and not get the two confused, with so many of these workers eligible for some type of Federal or State assistance ,it is not incumbent on the employer to make up the difference, there must some type of self control employed by these employee's to curtail their own spending habits, Mickey D's and others like them are not geared to be the main source of income to be able to support a family.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    If we go by that logic, then why do these massive companies pay little to no taxes whatsoever? If they are locally owned and operated, then what exactly are the national headquarters of these companies doing to warrant their tax statuses? Do they have any responsibility at all?

    And do you notice the hypocrisy regarding your views on these individuals needing government assistance? If they were paid an actual livable wage then they would not need the government to step in and make sure they could buy food and shelter.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    What we are trying to discuss is whether or not the chicken came first rather than the egg, we live in a capitalist society, like it or not, that is the reality of it, and most added costs are always handed down to the customer/consumer, we are discussing the fast food industry and not the multi-national conglomerates, the fast food industry arose because of a need to not want to wait around in a standard restaurant, so these chains began to count on volume and pre-cooked items, also it was mostly a place where young teens could get a heads up in the working world and not for raising families, so there was then plenty of cheap labor, however economic times changed and not for the better, so what happens now is that since these chains cater for the most part lower middle and low income families and any raise in prices will cause these customers to drift away, loss of business means someone is getting laid off, so I ask again, what is the net gain, if trying to raise the standard of living for some at the expense of others is just not a good business theory or practice, a great social theory but not a workable one.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    I should clarify. MacDonalds is making the lead headlines with this story. But, it's not just fast food (although it mainly is as that's where a vast majority of minimum wage workers are employed). Minimum wage workers though, no matter the employer are in agreement on this one. I don't believe the conversation really is 'should McDonald's employees make more money?'. I think that is just a way to package the conversation into a juicier headline, and that is proving to gain momentum and start national conversation.

    The real question is 'should minimum wage in this country be at a rate that doesn't allow its recipients to be self-sufficient and productive members of our collective society'? (or something like that) It's not just about Mickie D's. It's about the number 7.25.. do you think that's enough hourly wage income to make at the bottom tier of our interconnected economy? Is it fair? Or more to the point, is it economically smart?

    My point being that our economy is a consumer based economy; it runs off of people buying stuff. And, its no secret that there's major inequality when it comes to the distribution of wealth in this country. Just compare the incomes between the poor, the middle-class, the rich and the very rich. You know, the 99% talk... Millions of Americans only currently qualify for or can only currently land jobs (for many reasons, some legit, some not) that pay minimum wage. And, we have an economy in America that currently supports 300 million (ish) of us. So, if a large chunk of us, millions of us are making a wage that doesn't allow for self-sufficiency, doesn't that actually hurt the economy, in the big picture? Doesn't it mean more taxes and government programs to pay for the poverty stricken among us? Doesn't it ultimately mean more money out of everyone's pockets to make up for the slack/income gaps?

    So, maybe at least one question should be who pays for the slack? The employers? I could make a strong case for that answer. I mean, they do have a vested interest in making sure that are economy as a whole thrives as best as possible, if for no other reason than they profit off of it. And, that's a good thing that they do profit because they DO have a vested interest, its mutually beneficial for everyone to have a strong economy. But, its complicated there too because they also profit off a cheap product (in this case cheap, processed food). So, at least in the short game, MacDonalds and the like may not actually care to worry that much about our particular economy. I mean, they are a global company.

    It's a complicated question. The economy is complicated. But, the fact remains that we live in an interconnected, buying-based economy. The spending ability (or lack thereof) of the poor effect the middle class. As does the spending of the middle class to the rich. And the rich to the very rich. And the poor to the very rich. And almost every other combination between the 4 classes... Our 4 socio-economic classes of wealth in this country need each other, we are tied to each other economically. That's how I see this problem, as an economic one. My question is, if the wealth disparagement in this country becomes greater and greater (the poor get poorer and the rich get too rich), can our economy survive it? Also, do we even want to know the answer to that question, from a human stand point?
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    I don't pretend to understand advanced economics. If someone can break it down for me, one way or another, I would be very interested to read what you have to say. Just seems to me that we are all connected, both in life and in economics. I don't believe a person should make more than what they deserve; one shouldn't profit more than the value of their respective output. But, I also don't believe a person should be in poverty if they work a full time job. Our entry level work in this country (the land of prosperity and opportunity, right?) should pay enough to make someone self-sufficient. So, what do we do? Should we raise the minimum wage? I honestly don't know the answer to this question, but I lean towards YES, yes we should.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I suppose our society is supply and demand but I think what you are suggesting is a Judgement type of society, for instance ,who or what would be the determing factor of worth? and no has really explained the actual meaning of a livable wage, so often when wages and cos'st go up so does the cost of living ,ergo a circle, and yes economics is complex plus when you factor in a certain portion of society who are complete slackers, you then begin to generally lose many of the people who actually are trying to help.
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    When the min wage is kept artificially low (as it is now) the taxpayers (us) end up supporting the big corps again as usuall! People can earn enough for medical care, food, education, what happens - food stamps, emergency room medical care, uneducated poor people. The USA is in danger of becoming a second world nation (if we haven't already).

    There is a reason the 1% have most of the money and it has nothing to do with hard work, for sure.

    MacDonald's made 5.5 billion in profits (not sales) in 2012 but they can't afford to pay their workers $15 an hour? Please, give me a break!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/mcdonald-s-8-25-man-and-8-75-million-c...l
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    That profit figure you mentioned is a world wide figure is it not? The corporation is based on selling franchise's and then selling their products to the individual franchise's, so the major way that the corp. would have a downturn in profits is if the franchise's fail to generate revenue back to them, which would happen if the individual stores had their overhead raised to cover the increased cost of basic wages. How many Micky D's would have to cut out the dollar meal , these type of restaurants cater to the lower middle class as well as the low income families, if the prices were to go up, how many of these families would continue to patronize these places or just go to the closest mom and pop operation in their own neighborhood.
  • Independent
    Nepa, PA
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    pr Wrote: When the min wage is kept artificially low (as it is now) the taxpayers (us) end up supporting the big corps again as usuall! People can earn enough for medical care, food, education, what happens - food stamps, emergency room medical care, uneducated poor people. The USA is in danger of becoming a second world nation (if we haven't already).

    There is a reason the 1% have most of the money and it has nothing to do with hard work, for sure.

    MacDonald's made 5.5 billion in profits (not sales) in 2012 but they can't afford to pay their workers $15 an hour? Please, give me a break!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/mcdonald-s-8-25-man-and-8-75-million-c...l
    Well, OK but isn't the minimum wage artificial in the first place? It's set by the government after all. I see a lot of good ideas here but the one thing I can't get past is that any increase in costs for a business be it for burger buns or wages will always be passed on to the consumer. I can't see any business (which exist to make a profit) eating a cost increase out of guilt or a sudden sense of obligation. Doesn't that make it a zero sum solution? As far as McDonalds or any corporation being able to pay higher wages the obvious answer is of course they can. But how does that apply to this situation?
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    You're correct, they have to be forced to do it, that's why it's called the minimum wage. I don't know anyone who wants to spend more than they have to on anything (and that includes me) but if we want to live in a healthy, safe, civilized society we all have to make adjustments that benefit society and ourselves.

    Here is a very good chart that illustrates it in real terms.

    http://economy.money.cnn.com/2013/02/14/minimum-wage-history/

    What many people (the 1% primarily) don't want to admit is that historically the economy and the population in general has always been better off when the wealthy are taxed at a high rate and forced to pay living wages. This, of course, us just the opposite of conventional thinking today (by the Republicans) but "facts is facts" whether or not they are generally accepted.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    campdog Wrote:
    pr Wrote: When the min wage is kept artificially low (as it is now) the taxpayers (us) end up supporting the big corps again as usuall! People can earn enough for medical care, food, education, what happens - food stamps, emergency room medical care, uneducated poor people. The USA is in danger of becoming a second world nation (if we haven't already).

    There is a reason the 1% have most of the money and it has nothing to do with hard work, for sure.

    MacDonald's made 5.5 billion in profits (not sales) in 2012 but they can't afford to pay their workers $15 an hour? Please, give me a break!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/mcdonald-s-8-25-man-and-8-75-million-c...l
    Well, OK but isn't the minimum wage artificial in the first place? It's set by the government after all. I see a lot of good ideas here but the one thing I can't get past is that any increase in costs for a business be it for burger buns or wages will always be passed on to the consumer. I can't see any business (which exist to make a profit) eating a cost increase out of guilt or a sudden sense of obligation. Doesn't that make it a zero sum solution? As far as McDonalds or any corporation being able to pay higher wages the obvious answer is of course they can. But how does that apply to this situation?
    Fair argument. I think though that if the government decides that the national law is that you have to pay your employees a minimum of $10/hr, they will simply have to. You can't outsource in-store employees. Obviously, these companies won't necessarily just starting paying their employees more out of obligation/guilt. But, as a whole we can raise the minimum bar of wage in this country to keep up with inflation/cost of living. It's more of a government decision that a corporation decision at this point, I think.

    Of course, these big fast food joints can cut hours and try to make people work harder (with less of a staff) to compensate for the higher wages. That is where these protests actually could effect corporation's decision making. If you raise their wage and MacDonalds starts doing stuff like that and their employees collectively protest, they will have to compromise. Eventually, if enough outrage is displayed by any majority results happen. Workers just have to pick the right battles and not back down.

    In a completely unregulated economy, stuff like minimum wage, unions, worker's rights, etc are left up to the free market. In many cases, I totally see the argument where big government regulating everything can be a terribly restrictive and negative thing. But, I have a hard time thinking that their should be absolutely zero regulation either. While I have my issues with unions, minimum wage seems to me a fundamentally good idea all around. And, if you are going to have it, you have to make it make economic sense with the rising cost of living as time goes on.
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    Ask yourself "Have I ever seen or heard of a MacDonald's franchise not being a license to print money, much less seen one that closed down because it wasn't profitable?"

    A few few months ago the windbag behind that crappy pizza place Papa Johns started crying on how he was going to have to cut hours and lay off employees because of how the ACA was going to ruin his business. It came out a few days latter it might add 2¢ to the cost of a pizza and he crawled back under his rock to count all his pennies. It's all about greed, nothing less nothing more!


    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20470-raise-the-minimum-wage
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    pr Wrote: Ask yourself "Have I ever seen or heard of a MacDonald's franchise not being a license to print money, much less seen one that closed down because it wasn't profitable?"

    A few few months ago the windbag behind that crappy pizza place Papa Johns started crying on how he was going to have to cut hours and lay off employees because of how the ACA was going to ruin his business. It came out a few days latter it might add 2¢ to the cost of a pizza and he crawled back under his rock to count all his pennies. It's all about greed, nothing less nothing more!


    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20470-raise-the-minimum-wage
    Yes, I read all the arguments; indeed it boils down to "greed" . I see it on the stockmarket; when a company publishes its results, its stock either goes down or up; the "profit" always has to be better than the year before otherwise the stock tanks.
    Since in most cases this creates an impossible "game"; then of course they cut back on expenses like wages, or lay of people, or have robots do the job etc. This is inherent to a capitalistic society. Since we want a capitalistic government, then you get what you elected for. So why complain; be glad that at least there is a minimum wage; I guess let's institute a "maximum wage"; looks more balanced then, so because of that then we can try to make it a more equal playing field.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    the Daily Kos had an interesting story today about McDonalds, but the basic story applies to other companies as well (Walmart, for example) ..

    the new CEO of McDonalds, made $13.8 million in 2012, a healthy increase from the $4.1 million that he paid in 2011 ..
    they guy that he replaced made $27.7 million in 2012, a LOT more than his 2011 salary of $8.8 million in 2011:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/06/1260610/-McDonald-s-can-afford-to-triple-their-CEO-s-salary-Do-you-want-lies-with-that?detail=email

    when I read that Papa John's founder John Schnatter had a fund raiser for Mitt Romney in the spring of 2012 at his 40,000 square foot house in Kentucky (see below) we stopped buying his pizza:

    http://blog.estately.com/2012/11/papas-in-the-house-the-massive-mansion-that-papa-johns-pizza-built/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/mitt-romney-papa-john-video_n_1471720.html