Recently I posted this gem to my Facebook page and incited some interesting discussion. First of all I agree with all the points Angelica made. But people are still stuck on some points that make it hard to see the bigger picture.
But it's fast food: That's the hang up. People who have good jobs and don't have the problems that these people have look down on fast food as the red headed stepchild of the labor industry. "Flipping a burger" isn't even worth minimum wage to some people I've talked to. 15 an hour is positively asinine to others. But do we understand fast food as an industry and just how it affects job economy?
I'm not saying that fast food deserves 15 dollars an hour, but they, along with a lot of other industries are definitely underpaid. And the food industry seems to get the worst treatment forcing issues of the following:
This information comes from Berkley University and you can read it HERE. The information is dated yet holds true today (only 3 years later):
1: 52% of families of fast food employees are on public assistance as part of the 25% of all employees with families on public assistance. So literally double the number of fast food workers have families on public assistance compared to any other job in the country.
2: The cost of that assistance is about 7 billion dollars a year.
3: Medicaid and children's health insurance account for more than half of those costs.
4: Due to low earnings, food industry families receive an annual average of 1.04 billion in food assistance dollars and 1.9 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit.
5: People working these jobs are more likely to live in or near poverty by federal findings. 43% live at double the federal poverty level or less. At levels like that, you may as well be homeless.
6: Working at full time hours on these jobs has been found to make literally no difference in these factors.
"Just get a new job!" This is the knee jerk reaction of people who just don't want to be bothered with the real plight of economics in our country. Let me show you two fun points on why that's a stupid move.
1: You just suggested that 3.65 million people just "go get a new job" like it's the easiest thing in the world to do. Sorry, but that's faulted logic when you consider that our national unemployment rate is 3.9%. Depending on the varied demographics that comment also ignores. There are literally not enough of those "good paying" jobs to go around. That is a problem. 3.65 million is the number of fast food employees currently. That doesn't even scratch the number of waiters, cooks, dish staff, and others who don't even get minimum wage because we believe random tipping is enough to live on.
2: Who exactly will you be paying to make your burger if they all even could take that advice?
"Just go to college and get a better job" This comment is even worse. Aside from places like 90% of the country where those jobs don't exist (we aren't just made of big cities you know) there's the issue of taking care of your family while going to school.
Our society loves to bash on the jobless but even people who get whatever job they can (like the same scoffing people tell them to do) it makes no difference as they are judged and trod on. People in food service are routinely abused by customers who think that being a food worker is so low they can treat that person like a slave. They get no benefits and the majority don't get anywhere near even standard part time hours.
"It's only supposed to be a beginner's job anyway." Wrong. Times have changed. Fast food is a multi-billion dollar industry able to compete with any other industry on the block. As I type this, McDonald's is worth 159 BILLION dollars. It's world wide in 120 countries with 36,899 locations serving 68 million customers every single day. In 2015 the fast food industry generated revenue of 200 billion dollars in just the US compared to the 6 billion dollars of 1970. Stop living in the past.
So maybe they don't need 15 dollars an hour. But the problem is more than just 'fast food' and comparing burger flipping to other jobs that are also underpaid. If people made the wages they should, they wouldn't be in the assistance programs and we wouldn't be kicking people out of nursing homes or cutting school programs. There is no logical reason with the capabilities of today's world for anyone who is willing to at least WORK to not be able to LIVE. And this is only part of the actual problem that contributes to these factors. The other side of the coin involves utility companies that raise their rates multiple times a year, gas gouging, ridiculous medical costs, bank charges, and more. Not only do we allow people who are willing to work to wallow in poverty, we allow corporations to suck their blood like vampires.
So when a fast food worker is asking for more pay, they are not comparing themselves to anyone else. They just want to be able to live off their work like everyone else. Not correcting this is literally allowing a cancer in our economy and that my friends is what is asinine.