Not Lovin’ It: Angry Fast Food Workers Strike

“Hold the burgers, hold the fries, make our wages supersize!”

This is one of the many chants shouted by the thousands of fast food workers who began a wave of strikes and walk-outs across seven American cities on Monday July 29. Strikers walked off the job in a protest against restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Wendy’s, demanding their right to form a union and that their base wage be doubled from $7.35 to $15 an hour.

The New York-based group Fast Food Forward, which was formed last year as a “movement of NYC fast food workers to raise wages and gain rights at work,” has since gained national traction, spreading its message to Chicago, St Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Flint, and Detroit – cities whose fast food workers have partaken in this week’s walk-outs.

In response to the workers’ demands, the National Restaurant Association’s Scott DeFife explained that increasing the minimum wage would only prove to be harmful, stating that it would “[significantly] effect on the private sector’s ability to create jobs, especially those typically filled by first-time workers and teens.” As DeFife noted, minimum wage increases particularly hurt young, inexperienced workers first entering the labor force and significantly reduce their chances of full-time employment.

(A similar message is conveyed in WorkplaceChoice’s original video “The Life of Julius.” In this short, animated film, WPC briefly explains the history of the first minimum wage law and demonstrates how it cost America thousands of jobs.)

Fast food workers should know that an increase in minimum wage – let alone a 100 percent increase – would only raise employers’ costs, leaving them no choice but to lay off workers.

Furthermore, increases in minimum wage would be passed on to consumers as higher food costs. This means that the unemployed and poor who depend most on cheap fast food could be substituting McDonald’s trademark jingle with:

♪ pa ra pa pa pa…I’m not affordin’ it! ♬