McDonald’s and Burger King franchises at dozens of cities nationwide came to a screeching halt Thursday as workers at the outlets protested minimum wages. The fast-food employees have been campaigning for 9 months seeking to more than double their wages, from $7.25 to $15 an hour.
Martin Rafanan, a St. Louis community organizer, noted that local McDonald’s and Wendy’s employees are having a tough go of it at their current wages, according to The Daily Mail.
“If you’re paying $7.35 an hour and employing someone for 20, 25 hours a week, which is the average here, they’re bringing home about $10,000 a year. You can’t survive on that,” Rafanan said. “Unless we can figure out how to make highly profitable companies pay a fair wage to their workers, we’re just going to watch them pull all the blood, sweat, tears and money out of our communities.”
In New York, City Councilwoman Christine Quinn joined about 300 demonstrators in a march before flooding inside a McDonald’s near the Empire State Building.
Operations at the franchise seemed to revert to normal soon after the demonstration, so the impact was apparently minimal.
The Daily Mail noted:
The movement comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to hike the federal minimum wage. But most proposals seek a far more modest increase than the one workers are asking for, with President Barack Obama wanting to boost it to $9 an hour.
The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial support and training for local organizers in the fast-food strikes around the country. SEIU is obviously eyeing the many thousands of fast food workers across the country to swell their ranks and coffers.
And the fast-food workers get the “thumbs up” from some customers, also. Ryan Carter, a 29-year-old who was walking out of the McDonald’s where workers demonstrated on Thursday, told the Associated Press that he “absolutely” supported workers’ demands for higher wages.
“They work harder than the billionaires in this city,” he said. But Carter added that his feelings wouldn’t stop his regular trips to McDonald’s.
Restaurant chains and trade groups say the protests are unwarranted because fast-food and retail outlets provide Americans with millions of good jobs with competitive pay and ample opportunities to rise through the ranks.
But it all comes at a price. The Employment Policies Institute ran a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday depicting a robot making pancakes, with the warning that higher wages mean “fewer entry-level jobs and more automated alternatives.”
“You can either raise prices and lose customers, or (automate) those jobs,” said Michael Saltsman, EPI’s research director, adding that “the idea that restaurants are rolling in the money is not representative of the situation franchisees face.”
Higher wages will mean fewer jobs.
“If you are someone striking for $15 an hour, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot have the same number of job opportunities. It’s a direct reflection of economics of the industry,” Saltsman said.
People on Twitter seemed to agree.
Do you #FightFor15 people really not understand that raising the minimum wage for FF workers will result in unemployment and a $15 burger?
— I’m not Julia (@txtiger1) August 29, 2013
Before long, a new Twitter hashtag started trending — #StrikingFastFoodWorkersMotto:
— Hillary Happens (@3amFAIL) August 29, 2013
#StrikingFastFoodWorkersMotto. That'll be $75.94 for your two number 1's please pull ahead.
— Eric the Red (@rikini67) August 29, 2013
Read more tweets at Twitchy, and watch the coverage from Chicago ABC affiliate channel 7 news.