Boycott Fast Food Restaurants
There is a growing movement to increase the minimum wage paid to workers in the fast food also known as quick serve industry. Not only are millions of people paid a wage that hasn’t kept up with inflation and the cost of living, they are usually part-time employees not eligible for vacation, pension, and medical benefits.
Nationally franchised fast food restaurants not only serve up some of the unhealthiest foods sold in the United States, they also symbolize the growing gap between poor, middle class, and wealthy Americans.
The Lagging Minimum Wage
The Federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009. Executive pay hit an all-time high in 2013 with average CEO pay of $10 million while the minimum wage stagnated. Many states have minimum wages higher than the Federal minimum and the city of Seattle is incrementally raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Profits Before People
To maximize profits, corporations and restaurants use any means possible to reduce labor costs and maximize profits including:
- Paying State and Federal Minimum Wages regardless of the cost of living for the area.
- Hiring part-time workers to avoid providing healthcare and other benefits.
Conservative organizations and individuals fervently defend these practices as the epitomy of American capitalism just as wealthy, corrupt leaders and dictators defended communism and dictatorships. Communism has two classes; elite, wealthy leaders and followers. In China you have corrupt wealthy party leaders and corrupt wealthy pseudo-capalists.
As the American middle class shrinks, the United States is repeating the roaring 1920s of a elite capitalists and leaders and a majority of followers with many not earning enough for a decent standard of living.
Fast Food Is Fat Food
Much has changed in the 50 years since fast food restaurants began popping up throughout the United States. The American waistline has expanded to the point stores like Walmart and Target now carry 3x, 4x and larger sizes that were once available only through mail order and specialty stores. Walmart and Target do not cater to the wealthy. Along with the widening American girth, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in Type-2 diabetes even among children.
Fast food restaurants serve what Americans want not what is healthy for them. CEO’s admit their responsibility is to Wall Street analysts and their investors. If people become seriously ill or die from eating their food, it is not their problem. After all, customers have a choice and no one holds a gun to their heads while ordering or is forced to eat their food. But that contradicts the billions spent each year advertising their food or slogans like:
“Eat Like You Mean It”
“Choosey Eaters Wanted!”
People are Forced To See Fast Food
Despite CEO denials, many Americans are forced to eat a diet of cheap fast food. Many believe home cooking costs more than buying from a restaurants value menu. After all, if you only have $3 and ground beef, buns, ketchup, mustard, fired potatoes, and soft drink will cost you $12 the $3 prepared value meal seems like a bargain. One pound of ground beef, a bag of frozen fried potatoes, and a 2-liter bottle of soda will make 8 hamburger meals. That is a $24 value for $12 and a little time spent cooking.
The Great Great Recession
In addition to the less than healthy food items pervasive on fast food menus, their is the unethical, although not illegal, practice of limiting wages and benefits. You don’t believe the playing field is unfair?
The Great Recession was a godsend to employers and executives. It was an excuse to lay off, eliminate pay raises, cut or eliminate benefits, and hire more part-time employees to reduce costs.
Since the 2008 recession was one of the worst in history with many businesses closed or bankrupt the draconian measures many corporations and businesses took seemed appropriate to stay in business. Look at all the deals being offered even now from $2.00 sandwiches to $1.00 any size soft drinks. Unfortunately most deals are red herrings. Sandwiches that are advertised as loaded with meat and cheese contain less than one ounce of each, and sugary soft drinks that promote obesity are cheap.
During these turbulent times, McDonalds Corporation made $5.5 billion dollars in profit after taxes. This is corporate profits from franchising and do not include single store profits. Most fast food restaurants are franchised and pay a franchise fee to the corporation. McDonalds top five executives were paid over $27 million dollars in 2013 and exercised over $7 million in stock options. They also receive lucrative benefits that easily exceed annual pay for most employees.
McDonalds workers have walked off the job and picketed to increase the minimum wage from $7.75 to $15.00 per hour. A full time employee working 2000 hours per year would make $30,000. That is not a lot by today’s standards especially if you have a family to support. A part-time worker earning minimum wage doesn’t make enough to pay for college let alone other living expenses.
Low Wages, High Student Loan Debt
Highly compensated CEOs defend the $7.25 minimum wage arguing they are hiring unskilled workers. They ignore that fact that many corporations have been run into the ground by highly compensated CEOs. Fired CEOs usually leave with multi-million dollars severance packages.
Regardless what the Federal government says about inflation, young, inexperienced workers attending college have seen a dramatic increase in college expenses. When I first entered Arizona State University in 1975, full-time tuition was $200 a semester. By 2013 tuition had increased to $5,401 per semester including numerous fees. That’s a 2700% increase in 38 years. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the $2.00 minim wage in 1975 is equivalent to $8.68 in 2013 dollars. A 434% increase. With part-time employment the norm, a college student must work several jobs or, as is too often the case, resort to student loans which is drowning people with debt.
Is There a Mercedes In Your Driveway
Every week, when I go shopping, I pass a franchised sub sandwich shop. Parked out front was a full size Hummer prior to the 2008 recession which was replaced with a full-size Mercedes SUV. I doubt that vehicle belongs to a sandwich shop employee. Owning a business has a lot of perks including deducting and depreciating the cost of expensive vehicles used for business. Employees do not have that option assuming they can even afford a car or truck.
The $7.75 per hour minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation and doesn’t provide anywhere near a livable income. It’s time the value menus, $1 menu items, and other gimmicks were eliminated and employees paid a decent wage. Increasing the minim wage to $10 per hour would help but would still leave millions struggling to survive in since most service industry jobs are part-time jobs.
Boycotting the big nationally franchised restaurants would send a strong message to corporate management. Companies have a right to make a profit. Fast food restaurants use highly subsidized products like wheat, beef, and corn paid for by U.S. taxpayers to increase their profits.
Corporations pay low wages, have high turnover rates, and employees treated like slave labor having to meet demands for work schedules while receiving none of the benefits lavished on executives.
Companies and corporations are hansomly rewarding management and investors at the expense of their employees. There is something very wrong when employee websites have information about applying for food stamps and other government assistance.
It is time U.S taxpayers stopped these practices. If people won’t pay for food that provides employees a decent wage that company doesn’t deserve being in business.