American Elephants

Who is Really Protesting and What Exactly Do They Want? by The Elephant's Child

Fast Food Protests

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is trying to unionize the fast-food industry. Fast food workers (augmented by hired strikers) are striking restaurants in major cities, to demand that employers should hike their wages to $15 an hour. Because they want more money.

“On Strike: Can’t Survive on $7.25.” Workers are targeting a whole industry. They want more pay, and they want to unionize because SEIU is telling them that if they strike they can get $15 an hour for the same work the are doing now. SEIU is not telling them about the jobs that would be lost, nor is SEIU telling them that there is now a robot hamburger maker that can make better hamburgers faster and cheaper. They can be replaced. Permanently.

Unions in general are a little fuzzy about the laws of supply and demand. Union interest is in acquiring more union members and more union dues because that gives them more political power. Unions portray the fast food industry as ruthless and exploitative. Phil Hickey, who started out washing dishes in a Big Boy restaurant and now owns nine of his own restaurants, and is chairman of the National Restaurant Association, writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Consider the facts about the minimum wage. The majority of workers who earn a minimum wage in the United States work outside of the restaurant industry. In reality, only 5% of the 10 million restaurant employees earn the minimum wage. Those who do are predominantly teenagers working part-time jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71% of minimum-wage employees in the restaurant industry are under the age of 25; 47% are teenagers.

Striking fast-food workers seem not to have noticed that our economy is in the tank, that people are being laid off full-time jobs, and the only real job growth is in part-time jobs specifically because of ObamaCare regulations.Many fear that we are becoming a part-time nation. The best performing business in the current economy is the temporary-worker industry. Small businesses are closing their doors at an alarming rate, and the unemployment rate is as low as it is because of the huge increase in part-time work.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour simply eliminates entry-level positions, for employers will hire only experienced workers. A “living wage” is a nice turn of phrase, but meaningless. Why $15? Why not $25, or $50? Do workers expect to stay in that entry-level position, or do they intend to advance? How does a worker go from washing dishes to owning nine restaurants? Is that a potential career open to all those people now protesting?

Looking at Google Image pictures of striking fast-food workers, I was struck by the absence of the young people I encounter at fast food restaurants.  The visible older “strikers” seemed to be the same strikers last seen in purple SEIU tee shirts. Doesn’t lend much credibility to their protest.

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There were two examples of “employees” that were featured in talking about this story yesterday… One was a young woman who claimed that she had been working in “fast-food” (no specific restaurant was named) for 6-1/2 years, and another from when Obama had just been inaugurated in 2009 from a young man who had been working at McDonald’s for 4-1/2 years. It turns out the young man was a college student who had started working at that McDonald’s in high school, and was working part-time seasonally. As for the young woman cited, 6-1/2 years? Were those 6-1/2 years all working in the same place? full-time or part-time? Seasonal or year round? Because my experience around teenagers I know – TEENAGERS – is that if you are working full-time, not calling off excessively, doing your job, and not getting reprimanded, then you wind up getting raises and promoted almost by default. 6-1/2 years? Was this young woman never offered any kind of shift lead or supervisory position? A friend of mine’s daughter works at a fast-food chicken franchise in Knoxville. In the nine months that she’s been there, she’s learned just about every job they can teach her on-site, has proven herself to be reliable and willing to work, and is now making a dollar more an hour than when she started (which, by the way, wasn’t at minimum wage… in Knoxville, such jobs usually start out around $7.75/hr).

Which raises another issue with this “strike”: In Atlanta, GA, most entry level fast-food jobs start at $8.00/hr.Same in Louisville, KY. In the DC Metro area, such jobs frequently start off at $9.50/hr, and in NYC, average starting wage at most chains is around $10.25/hr. So it seems a lot of those “strikers” (I’m like you… I tend to think most of those people were shills hired by the SEIU) were complaining about something that is not even an issue.


Comment by Lon Mead

Our “minimum wage” here is the highest in the country at $9.15. Go to Google images and look for pictures of this strike. Hired shills. Interesting how it’s always the same bunch produced for protests. I wonder if SEIU just has a separate cadre, trained to yell the proper things and wave their pre-made signs for the cameras, ready to turn out wherever they are needed? They sure aren’t the usual suburban teenagers.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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