When I first walked into a McDonald’s, my impression was of a small business. It appeared to be a fun place to work, and the smiling employees were happy. That was over 50 years ago; I know better now. Fast food employees are virtually slave labor. They work at the discretion of management and receive an unlivable wage. If they fail to work any and all assigned hours they lose their job. The fast food industry is extremely profitable while they treat their employees like animals.
Thursday, December 4th, tens of thousands of fast food workers will be on strike. The boycott will take place in 150 cities across the United States. They are demanding a livable wage of $15 and hour. I heard some say, ‘why don’t they look for a better job?’ The answer is that they would have to move out of the country where corporations have taken them.
McDonald’s fails to recognize the event as a strike from within the industry. Management claims that more outside forces are actually involved in the protest. Subtle forms of retaliation have been experienced by fast food workers, although supervisors claim that is untrue.
Wal-Mart employees through their organization named ‘OUR Wal-Mart’ have joined the cry for an increase to $15 an hour.
The movement to increase the wages of those who work but continue to remain in the poverty level is growing. Public awareness that wages fail to rise in proportion to record-breaking corporate profits is propelling a more unified effort.
The NAACP has joined fast foot workers in their efforts. They compare their demands for fair pay with the sit-ins in the 1960’s. Their point of view is that it is as much a civil rights issue as it is economic.
The real enemy is corporate greed. Conservatives claim that this desire for increased profits is why they create jobs, and pay their employees a fair wage. This concept is purely a falsification and a defense which would allow them to continue their policy of paying their employees wages which are below a livable standard.
An illusion also exists that fast food establishments are responsible for a growing workforce in our nation. History shows that corporations continue to seek ways to increase their profits, and one of them is by lessening the number of employees necessary to achieve their goal. If a zero employee situation could be attained they would adopt it immediately.
Corporations, through their lobbyist who support Republican Congressmen, claim that a higher minimum wage would result in lower employment. This is completely false. Including times of recession, evidence proves that an increase in the minimum wage has no effect on the employment rate.
The largest number of individuals which would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage are women. Sixty percent of the lowest paid workers are women, and a large percentage of them are single mothers.
If our lowest paid workers received $15 an hour, the economy would improve. If these workers had even a small amount of disposable income they would spend it, unlike the wealthy who secure it in offshore accounts.
When the working class has ‘money to spend,’ everyone benefits; even those who already have far too much wealth.
By James Turnage