McDonalds workers strike over wages
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 14:09
“Keep your burgers, keep your fries, make our wages super-size!”
This is what was being chanted across the country on Aug. 29. The streets of the Big Apple and many other cities across the country were filled with protesting fast-food employees striking for an increase in pay. Those striking claimed that wages were much too low to live on. Many strikers held signs petitioning for their wages to be raised from the national minimum of $7.25 to $15. This would more than double their current hourly wage.
Now, I can relate to these people to an extent. For two years I worked for Target. I understand what it is like to make low wages. So, I get that part, but here is my issue: These types of jobs are not “careers.” Teenagers and people who are looking for part-time work typically fill these jobs.
The types of work that makes higher wages are the ones that require higher levels of education and skills. The entry levels on fast food restaurants do not require any previous work experience or essential skills to be employed. These jobs are more so intended to be stepping stones to different careers, whether it be promotion within the company to manager and beyond or acquiring a new job.
Many people look at McDonald’s and see that the corporation made $5.5 billion in profit last year and wonder, “Why can’t the heartless big wigs just cut some of their profits and give it to their workers?” It is a nice sentiment, but one that doesn’t seem likely. This is mostly due because many McDonald’s franchises are independently owned by small-business owners. The dramatic raise in wages would cause owners to have to raise prices, and that would be passed on to the consumers. People tend to choose these restaurants because of the low prices. Raising those to compensate for wages could hurt business.
Some workers striking were in favor of asking for a more modest wage around $9 an hour. President Barack Obama is in favor of possibly raising the national minimum wage to $9 to help low-income workers. I would be quicker to support this idea, though it wouldn’t be my first choice. My economics professor made an appealing suggestion that I found both reasonable and logical.
For any of us who have worked and received a paycheck, we know that the first thing that gouges our joy is seeing the amount of taxes that have been taken out. I remember having a paycheck that was originally over $400 cut to about $300. What I am in favor for is an Earned Income Tax Credit. This offers individuals who are to make a living wage and are not dependent on another individual tax breaks, to keep more of their paycheck. The system only benefits working individuals—those who are working and making low income. It would also distribute a slightly larger tax return when claimed on taxes.
I believe this would help those who are in low-income jobs to get by more feasibly. Raising the wages to $15 would cause people to settle and not pursue different types of education and vocational skills that would qualify them for a better job. Settling would hurt the economy in the long run. I don’t know if the people who are asking for these higher wages realize they would be creating a higher demand for a job that doesn’t require much skill. Since the supply of those jobs is finite, it could cause works to lose their jobs to workers who have better qualifications than themselves.
I think the best solution comes from raising the minimum wage slightly to $9 an hour to compensate for the continual rise in the price of living; also incorporating the EITC for individuals that are working hard and having families to take care of. I came to NDSU because I wanted to acquire a degree and skills that would give me the opportunity to make a decent wage to support a family and myself in the future. That desire came from making a low income for two years at Target. This work experience served as a catalyst to better myself and make myself a desirable asset for an employer. Success comes from continually striving to be better, and that has always been the American Dream.
Caleb is a sophomore majoring in English.