Can fast food workers justify asking for a wage hike?

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fast food workers across the nation are expected to strike again on Thursday for an increase in the minimum wage, which is what most employees of fast food establishments are paid. Although their claims do have a certain degree of validity, their methods and demands often obscure the message they are trying to get across.

No one is arguing that $7.25 an hour is not a real living wage. Most minimum wage jobs, however, are not meant to be long-term career options. They are meant to give younger people some spending money for the summer or to help pay the bills during times of hardship. Unfortunately, for many fast food workers, this is no longer the case, but some motivation to strive for a career beyond the cash register must remain.

Also the amount borders on the absurd. In a place like New York City $15 an hour is not an unreasonable amount, but here in Louisiana, many people who work in office settings where a college degree is necessary do not even make $15 an hour.

So to arbitrarily raise the minimum wage by more than 100 percent would further send the message that staying in school and working hard on one’s studies are not terribly worthwhile.

Also, while corporate giants could probably spread the wealth around a little more evenly, raising the minimum wage to something like $15 across the board would force more small businesses to close than any big box store or Affordable Care Act ever could. There are few small businesses that could afford to pay all their workers $15 at a minimum.

Furthermore, whoever heard of asking for a 100 percent raise? In the business world, 5 percent or less is standard, and 10 or 15 percent is about the maximum raise anyone will ever get without a promotion. And for those raises, the worker generally must demonstrate why their performance is worthy of higher wages. But these striking fast food workers are asking for their paychecks to more than double while making no promises of improved job performance.

Ultimately, such actions have much the opposite effect of what is intended, as Middle America will likely see the strike as people asking for something for nothing, not their comrades in arms pleading for a fair shake.