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August 8, 2013 - 8:14am

Today's Poll: Should fast food workers receive higher wages?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Cheryl Wilmet
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I said yes because with the number of unemployed people maybe more people would for a fast food business. It seems that people with these jobs get assistance with food stamps, HEAP, medicaid, rent. With earning a better wage there is the possibility that people won't need as much government assistance.

Kyle Couchman
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The problem with doing so is what the employers will do if forced to bring wages up. We saw this with Obamacare's insurance requirement. The wage will go up then the hours will go down, and they will hire more people for 15 to 20 hours a week. So what have you accomplished? Not much really except lowering the hours that these people will be able to work. You can force them to pay a wage but you cant force them to provide full time work.

tom hunt
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Working in a fast food establishment was never meant to be a job for a life substaining employement. It traditonaly the first job for teenagers and a part time job for bore House Wives. It also has the effect of imprinting on the brains the necessity for a higher education

John Roach
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That should be between the company and the worker

Lori Silvernail
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I don't see how it would be fair to single out fast food workers. There are plenty of other jobs out there that only pay minimum wage. Seems to me that it would open up a really ugly can of worms

Jason Crater
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How am I supposed to get a $1 McDouble if they increase wages?

Jeff Allen
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Kyle, big thumbs up, such a simple yet misunderstood concept.

Joshua Pacino
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According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 30% of fast food workers are between the ages of 16-19, 30.7% between 20-24, and 36.4% between 25-54. It's not just a job for teenagers and "bored housewives."

Also, in 1968, when it may have been true that these jobs were just for teenagers, the minimum wage was the equivalent of $10.53/hour in today's money.

The thing is, the fast food companies know that you can't make a living on the wages that they pay. The sample budget that MacDonald's made for employees to show how to survive on such a wage had to make the assumptions that the person would have a second full-time job at minimum wage and could find health insurance for $20 a month.

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/mcdonalds/documents/McD_Journal2.pdf

Just thought I'd add a few facts for the argument.

John Roach
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Joshua, the most important fact is that this is a matter between the employer and employee.

Joshua Pacino
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John, does that mean you aren't for any sort of minimum wage? (not trying to be snarky, honestly curious)

Kurt Schwab
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I think we should all get $10/hr and all live in 1000 sq. ft (white)houses, all on the same street and all drive 1000 lb (white)cars that get 100 mpg and all eat the same tofurkey and have 1.2 children, each raised by the village, and practice the same religion and wear the same (hemp) clothing and listen to the same music and go the the same school and get free (gubment) cheese, health care, food stamps, school lunches, cell phones, rent subsidies, milk subsidies, energy subsidies, housing subsidies, clunker subsidies, education subsidies, and subsidy subsidies...

It'll be wonderful. Obama2016

John Roach
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Joshua, since there is a government set minimum wage, anything over that should be none of our business, but between the two parties involved.

Joshua Pacino
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John, that's a fair point. I guess I'm thinking more in the broad terms that the minimum wage is (in my opinion) lower than it should be for all workers rather than just about the fast food workers, which is the focus of the poll today.

Robert Brown
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Government should only be concerned with laws around safe working conditions, equal pay for equal work performance, fair business practices, sanitary food handling, discrimination, etc... And don't we have laws covering all of that?

Tinkering with the financial aspects of the economy is a continued recipe for failure. As John pointed out, wages should be a negotiation between employer and employee. If anything needs to be corrected it is the forced financial payments upon employers when workers reach hour worked thresholds (typically 30 hours per week) and the mandatory benefits employers are forced to provide. Those regulations cause far more damage to the economy than good and mostly benefits the government and the people in government, NOT the citizens those rules pretend to assist. If you untwist all the barbed wire and ensure ALL people in both public and private sectors are on an even playing field, the economy will work and work quite well.

As minimum wages go up, the government tax take on those people go up. As minimum wages go up, prices go up and the government tax take on those sales goes up. As minimum wages go up, to Kyle's point, employers find ways to cut costs by reducing employee hours or maybe even reducing employees or business hours and in some cases be forced out of business if they cannot balance price increases to cover costs with potentially reduced sales.

Government will help the most when it does the least and just gets out of the way.

Bob Heininger
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Wages should be worked out between employee and employer and be commensurate with the particular job. Slingin' grease burgers and fries at fast food joints doesn't take years of training and / or higher education to perfect, and wages should be doled out accordingly. NYS minimum wage is even way too high for the proportion of skill and knowledge required make a cheeseburger and french fries. $2-3/hr seems much more suitable to match the task.

Joshua Pacino
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Bob,

$2.50/hour x 40 hours/week x 52 weeks/year = $5200 (before taxes). Yeah, that seems enough to live on every year. You win.

John Roach
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Bob, maybe that's why NYS subsides the minimum wage for young workers?

Raising the wage for fast food workers will only put more of the older ones out of a job (or never getting hired) as younger workers are hired with taxpayers now paying part of their salary.

Mark Brudz
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16-19: 30.7% = high school students
20-24: 36.4% = College students for the most part
_________________________________________________

16-24: 67.1% = Majority of minimum wage force

Now of the 25-54 age group, a very large percentage are management, SALARIED not minimum wage or hourly (We are talking GM's and AGMs here NOT Crew leaders) Most of the remainder are people supplementing income with second job.

Bob Heininger
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Joshua, fast food jobs and other traditional part time work (eg. grocery / department store workers for starters) were not ever intended to provide a living wage. They are and always have been entry level into the workforce jobs. The is still America, not Americastan, last I checked, and America has always been and still is a land of unlimited opportunity. If people can't makes ends meet with their entry level fast food and supermarket jobs, they are more than free to get some skills, education, or both, and seek out more gainful employment via good old fashioned hard work.

But I duress, those last two words in today's entitlement society are dirty nasty ones. :sigh:

Joshua Pacino
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In my continued attempt to use facts, an example:

McDonald's employs 500,000 employees in the US.
In 2012 McDonald's profit was 5.5 billion dollars.
If we assume that all 500,000 employees work 40 hours/week and 52/weeks a year, raising the wages by $1.00/hour would cost 1.04 billion dollars.

Without getting into whether they should or shouldn't, I'm just saying that there is no reason that they COULDN'T raise wages, keep prices the same, and still take in 4 billion dollars a year in profits to make the shareholders happy. The rationale that raising wages would kill the company or force prices to rise is not supported by the facts.

Mark Brudz
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Your assumption of 40 hour work weeks is wrong I hate to say

The hourly force is comprised of PART TIME workers,

Now Eliminate 25000 jobs from the total for upper management, corporate offices, and various non store activities

Now eliminate 1/3 for store and district level management

So:

500,000
-25000
-157000

This leaves a remainder of 318,320
Of this number All are considered part time and the full work week is considered in Full Time Equivalents (FTE's) or simply put, divide the hourly staff by 2.5 and you get full time employment number of 127,328 FTE's so much for your $1.00 per hour number.

Now, look at the business Model of say Burger King, it is based on 9.5% NET profit on items sold. If you have say 25 Part Time workers or 10 FTE's and you reduce the profit margin by about 2.5%

That leaves the business with two choices, either raise the price to match the business model or reduce the staff to bring the profit margin inline. Now since the fast food structure would not operate efficiently by reducing staff, the choice becomes raising the price, which in essence makes the wage increase obsolete because the price increases offset the gain.

The thing about quoting statistics is that you have to dig deeper into the statistics to get past the agenda of those publishing them. Without ferreting out the salaried store level management, The stats shown are very misleading.

Paul Weiss
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Intended by who?

tom hunt
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Josh, you are looking at this from the employees point of view. Companies exist to make a profit for the benefit of the stock holders. Unfortunately, management considers the rank and file employee a necessary evil and will do everything to maintain miminal costs to maximize profits.

Mark Brudz
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Just one point that everyone is glossing over

HOURLY Fast Food workers will never have FULL TIME employment as a rule. (Some exceptions}

The management team's salaries at each location are in part made up by bonuses based on net profits. So if things are slow for a particular time period throughout the day, Labor will be the first thing cut. In other words, "We don't need you this afternoon, go home." I think anyone that has ever worked at a Burger King or McDonalds has heard that at some point.

Full time hourly employees simply do not fit into the business models at all

Mark Brudz
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Is it unfortunate Tom? Or is it simply business?

Joshua Pacino
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. Mark, I was over-simplifying to say that even if all were full time and minimum wage (I am well aware they aren't) that an increase could be made without sinking the company or having a 20 dollar happy meal. Also, thank you for getting figures and real numbers. I can't stand it when the entire argument is opinion and ideas with nothing to support them.

Tom, no kidding the employers are only looking at the bottom line. If they had their way, emoloyees would allwork for tips.

And yes, I am a huge proponent of education, learning skills, and working hard. I have covered all of those bases and don't have any student laons, and I've never worked fast food so I guess this really doesn't matter to me in the end.

John Roach
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Remember, most of the major fast food places are franchise. Somebody raised the money to buy that franchise. They opened the business not for the social benefit of society, but to work hard and make money. They stay in business against competition by being better at it than the other guy. That means the best service they can offer, the best value and at the lowest cost. If not, they are out of business and so are the employees.

Howard B. Owens
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A part of the equation that I've seen nobody mention: Working in fast food isn't forced labor. There is nobody threatening to beat you if you don't become a fry cook.

Taking a job ringing up hamburgers is a choice. If that's the choice you make, then you're paid what you're willing to accept.

If you want to make more money, it's your choice to get the education, training, experience necessary to land jobs (or start businesses) that will lead to greater earning power.

I've said the same thing about a particular local high wage earner: You're worth what you're able to negotiate for yourself. If you don't have the leverage to negotiate a wage that's above minimum, then perhaps you need to do something to increase your bargaining power, such as acquiring new skills and getting more experience.

Also, this isn't just about whether the minimum wage should be raised. There's also pressure to unionize fast food workers, which would pretty much certainly mean no more dollar meals.

Mark Potwora
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I agree with Howard no one forces any one to be a fast food worker..In fact some of them don't deserve minimum wage.....I have had very poor service a few times at fast food restaurants........Don't tax a persons wages ,tax when it is spent..

Frank Bartholomew
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Sooner or later, all business will suffer lack of sales/business/services/whatever, simply becuase the 1%ers can't buy everything.
Prices of everything have skyrocketed in the past 8-10 years, I don't think the reason had anything to do with wages paid to hourly
employees.
I can remember when employees were sometimes thought of as assets to their employer. a sad comparasion to todays mentality.Todays workers
are more likely labeled as "disposable liabilities".

John Roach
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Frank,
Prices have been going up for decades. In the 70's, they even tried price controls (which only made things worse). None of this is new.

Robert Brown
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By the way, just who decides what a fast food worker establishment is? Are these rules only aimed at McD's, BK, Wendy's, and other chains or do they apply to a place like say the Pok-a-Dot? How about a hot dog or burger vendor on a street corner? If they do, you can bet minimum wages have a much larger impact on the business than on a national chain. Likewise, a regional chain might get stung more than a national chain. If it is only aimed at national chains, why should they be targeted any more than say farms hiring migrant farm workers or hotels with bell hops or restaurants with waitresses? Is government about to mandate unions? Really? Companies can be forced to only negotiate with unions and workers can only get jobs if they belong to a union? What sort of economy works well with that model? And why do we even allow our elected officials to play games with this sort of legislation? They are collectively not experts but they sure are successfully insulating themselves from any damage while perpetually messing up the system. Cease and desist seems much more pragmatic at this juncture.

Mark Brudz
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This is all about bolstering a shrinking union base

11.3% of Americans are Union members, a little less than half of them public service employees. 6.6% of private sector employees are unionized.

The fastest way to gin up support for unionization is to get people to believe that they are underpaid. We know for fact that 67% of fast food workers are under the age of 24 and the vast majority are students who have absolutely no interest in pursuing a career in the fast food industry. We also know that rare is the full time hourly employee in the fast food industry at all.

So what would be the point of unionization other than to bolster the ranks and subsequent dues collection of the AFL-CIO?

Make no mistake, that is what this is all about.

As Grandpa always said, 'Follow the Money, the big money, and you will root out the culprit."

david spaulding
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interesting question...at first I thought it was about minimum wage....it is not.....I think everyone should get higher wages if their employer believes they should....
however I do not believe the government should be telling employers how to run their business......but then again this is America , you can't go for a walk without some kind of government interference.....basically big brother knows what is best for you, do as you are told or you will suffer. and the worst part is big brother is above the rules the rest of us had better follow..........don't get me started.......

Raymond Richardson
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There's another point no one else has mentioned, but one person slightly touched upon concerning part time employment; is the majority of fast food workers are under the age of 18 and still in school and by law can't work more than 25 hours per week when school is in session.

As such, they really don't have anything to bring to the bargaining table to convince a fast food employer that they're worth more than minimum wage.

Bob Heininger
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It is indeed all about labor unions. Come Black Friday fast food will be forgotten about and they'll be rattling their impotent little swords towards big box retailers.

Ed Hartgrove
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Raymond: You wrote that, "... the majority of fast food workers are under the age of 18 and still in school and by law can't ..."

But, Mark B., in comment #19, wrote, "...16-19: 30.7% = high school students"

These statements can't both be correct. Unless, of course, there is a high number of persons aged 15 or younger employed for this industry. Which I doubt is the case.

Sorry, but I'm just trying to reconcile the numbers being tossed about.

Frank Bartholomew
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John, not at the rate they have gone up in the last 10 years.

Frank Bartholomew
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With greed on the rise, the unions will be back. Many American workers enjoy benefits today becuase of the efforts of yesterdays unions.

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