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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Fast and cheap

Are these people insane?

Hundreds of fast food workers in New York City will walk off the job Thursday to protest low wages.

The move is part of a campaign to unionize franchises in New York and raise wages to $15 an hour.

know people who have been there seven, eight years and they only make about 50 cents more than I do,” said Joseph Barrera, who makes $7.25 an hour at a KFC in Richmond Hill, Queens. “At this point I’m so fed up.”

Organizers with the Fast Food Forward campaign have met with workers at local McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s and Domino’s Pizza locations.

People patronize fast-food joints not just for the speed of service but also for the low cost. Fast and cheap make for a winning combination. Nobody is going to eat at a place and pay the prices a restaurant would have to charge for its food if it had to pay $15-an-hour salaries. When I worked at McDonald's as a grubby little high schooler, I was paid the gigantic sum of 85 cents an hour (yeah, yeah, I know, really dating myself). If anybody had suggested we go on strike to demand $1, I'd have thought they were insane.

But, hey, talk about changing times:

With colleges producing more graduates, and youth unemployment at a sky-high 11.5 percent, even landing a job selling Big Macs is getting competitive.

Consider: A job opening at a Massachusetts McDonald's restaurant for a full-time cashier requires one to two years experience and a bachelor's degree.

At least they'll get somebody who knows how to make change. Maybe.


Harl Delos
Thu, 04/04/2013 - 10:34pm

The average time a person staes in one job is about 4 years, and average time spent with one emploter is 7 years. The folks who set wage scales in big companies look at turnover to decide whether they need to raise wages or not.

There is a lot of turniver in fast food.  One large fast food operator gives their managers a bonus if they keep annual employee turnover to less than 200%.

If your employees are well-trained, if theydon't stand around kicking french gries on the greasy floor, if the get orders out quickly, if they keep the place sparkling clean, if they make customers feel welcome, you could afford to pay $10/hour, (and you probably should, to keep them from going to work for your competiturs.)  It's not the cost per hour that matters, it's the labor cost per dollar of sales, and great employees bring lots of hungry people in your doors.

If your employees are talking about a union, you're a terrible manager.  There are many ways to krrp rmployrrs happy, and iverpaying them isb't smart.  People will work for a smaller paycheck if they feel they're being rewarded in other ways.  No, you can't hire a good electrical engineer for $9/hour, but a good boss can keep them for $85k when the SOB across town offers $90k.