Raise Wages and "Fast Food Restaurants Would Collapse." O RLY?

Comments

1
Some of us really wouldn't consider the collapse of fast food to be a negative outcome. Indeed, one might go so far as to call a conditional win.
2
Groveling back to keep their jobs? Why not strike today?
3
It is a sad truth that as one advances up the management food-chain it becomes less about people and more about spreadsheets.

It is an equally sad truth that fast food is an especially poor career choice. To earn a higher wage, cultivate a talent or skill. High employee turnover is built right into fast food production processes. Those businesses are strike proof. But then nobody ever accused Occupy of strategic or tactical brilliance.
4
Wait a second, last time I checked, only the lower classes ate at this places. Maybe you should convince them to boycott fast food joints?
5
only 16 percent of fast food jobs are held by teenagers now


I sincerely had no idea it was that low. When I was a teenager—admittedly more than 30 years ago—I worked in a burger joint for a year or so in high school. With the exception of the manager and assistant manager, everyone else who worked there in the afternoons and evenings were high school students. Every last one of them. That seemed to be pretty common for fast food places back then.

I guess the reputation of fast food being a job for teenagers has persisted, even if it is no longer true.
6
@5 teenagers don't work these days. Too entitled.
7
@5 and to some extent @6- It was a real shock when I first moved to the west coast, during a spell of boeing layoffs and high unemployment, to see adults working so many fast food jobs. As stated, kids used to hold those jobs.

There is downward pressure in the job market- believe me, kids would love to have those jobs-it's a constant complaint with the HS kids i work with.
But why would a manager hire a 16 y.o. w/ no car and no experience, rather than a 26 y.o. with a diploma, maybe some college, and a real incentive to work their ass off? And with the pent up demand, with piles of young kids who are perfectly capable of doing these jobs and who will happily work for less than minimum wage, wages aren't going anywhere.
8
"But this is fast food, you don't expect to make money from selling a sandwich for $3."

Since the last sandwich I bought at a Subway cost $4.25, I thinl Mr Zeer is doing something wrong.
10
http://livingwage.mit.edu/places/5303363…

I think that's a start (granted it's a few years old). The end game should be moving toward a higher minimum wage in Seattle. $15/hr seems a bit high, but we can and should recognize that there is a different cost of living in Seattle than there is in Bellingham.

Assuming the Legislature would allow it, Seattle should study what a living wage is for an individual, and implement a minimum wage reflective of that end result. I would say that fast food shouldn't be forced to pay wages to support a family, sure, but for several reasons implementing a higher Seattle minimum wage now, and tying it to inflation, is smart policy.
11
@16 - unfortunately, just the opposite is happening in the Legislature.

The most significant piece of legislation they considered was a Republican bill to allow a sub minimum-wage "training wage" in our state. Thankfully, after passing the Republican-controlled Senate, it stalled in the Democratically-controlled House.
12
@11 meant @10
13
"The most significant piece of legislation they considered was a Republican bill to allow a sub minimum-wage "training wage" "

What, like unpaid interns?
14
I hope they can find the momentum here too. Labour needs to make a come back in the good old USofA.

That this conversation between fast food corporations, their franchises and labour is taking place is a good thing. The fact it is being pushed/forced by labour is unsurprising. This as it has always been.

To the "libertarians" and "tea party" trolls out there, you wouldn't have what you have without the labour movement in these United States. That is a fact, like or not, admit it or not, it remains a fact.

That labour went through a period of corruption is also a fact. Nonetheless it does not negate the above fact. These things eb and flow. At this moment of the eb and flow, labour needs to rise again if no other reason then to protect the way of life you profess to cherish.
15
So Ansel - who do you think should pay for the higher wages?
a) Subway Inc.
b) Landlords
c) The immigrants who come here and risk their life savings paying thousands to Subway Inc and the landlords to open a shop
d) Consumers
16
Australian minimum wage is equivalent to $15.28 usd and their unemployment is 5.5% compared to 7.5% here. The only reason to keep minimum wage this low is to keep redistributing money from the poor to the rich.
17
You shouldn't scare-quote "vending machines" there, Unpaid Intern-- there has been intensive, ongoing R&D in food service automation for decades now.

Some of the technology developed is already deployed-- if you've peered into both a fast-food kitchen* and a conventional restaurant kitchen in the past few decades, then you'll have noticed that the heavy equipment in a McDonalds bears little resemblance to the typical commercial flat-top or deep-fryer.

They can already automate the process of cooking a fast-food meal. It's a solved problem**.

The reason no-one has deployed that technology at scale is that it's still cheaper to use human cooks and current equipment. But make no mistake-- today there is nothing at all standing in the way of automating the franchise kitchens... except low wages.

 

* never mind a fast-food processing plant or distribution center

** and the plants and DCs are of course already highly automated.
18
I support labor and the (sort of) general strike, but if the minimum wage ultimately does rise to the level they're asking do slightly higher wages (say, $18-$25) rise exponentially, or effectively go down? There might be some pushback there.
19
@16

There are other options, including:

e) Taxpayers
f) WHY AREN'T ANY BANKSTERS IN JAIL!!!?!
g) The British
f) No really, why not Taxpayers?
20
@7

"But why would a manager hire a 16 y.o. w/ no car and no experience, rather than a 26 y.o. with a diploma, maybe some college, and a real incentive to work their ass off? And with the pent up demand, with piles of young kids who are perfectly capable of doing these jobs and who will happily work for less than minimum wage, wages aren't going anywhere. "

You tell us, chief. Probably most here in their 30s or so remember snagging a job just because their dad told them to get a job if they wanted to snag a new skateboard they broke. Things were different and us 15-16 year olds were hired all the fucking time in the early 90s. All you had to do was walk in the door and the job was yours. Then you went home and told your dad you got a job at Taco Bell just now and can we go to the skate shop now?
21
I think I misread your comment @7 with haste. I apologize. Still, that's still my point.
22
@1: Fast, crappy, food is one thing. But there will always be a need for cheap fast food that will at least get you through the day.

So let's not bash fast food per se, as we've seen it can be a good thing.
23
Hasan is a terrible boss. He will make ask people to work overtime like he's doing them a favor, but not pay overtime wages. He is a slimeball.
24
@23

If he's asking people to work more than 40 hours a week but not paying them overtime, then he's not just a slimeball, he's also a criminal. Take him to court!
25
@18 yeah one might think that, but actually it pushes those wages up.
26
The minimum wage would be $16.54/hr if adjusted for inflation from 1968, or over $34,000/year.

In 2011, the average annual U.S. wage was $26,364.

This is not sustainable.
27
@26

Oooh, I love this game!

The minimum wage would be $3.80/hr if adjusted for inflation from 1949, or under $8,000/year.

In 2011, the median annual household income was $50,502.

This is totally sustainable!
28
What a decent income? Get the skills needed to get a good paying job.

Didn't figure that out until you we're 30? Blame your parents.
29
No it's not sustainable. Quit your game of averages and look at the variables. Who has time for court and who wants to fucking 'go to court? Some people would just prefer to live. Happiness outside of The Stranger's predilections of sex shit I skip over. As we all will once we reach an age where sex shit becomes stupid to talk about and we near the age where sex shit is more novelty than exploratory.

This isn't a dig on Dan, but have read not one Savage Love article in the last bit. Going on, at least 7 years.

Point being is that The Stranger is obliquely supporting people, but it is also dysfunctional. Time for EVEN MORE journalism! I know you kids do what you do and thank you for it. But it is time to turn the chapter, I think, and become a powerhouse. It's right there in front of you, Stranger Staff. You can possibly become the "only newspaper" in Seattle very soon. I'm sure you've thought of this.

You guys got a Pulitzer for the most gut wrenching combination of words I have ever read. Fuck that was awful. But the publication was great. You could own ST if you wanted, journalistically. Fuck, I'd even help you for free.
30
nice story, Ansel.

remind us, just how much did the greedy owners of The Stranger pay you to write it?
31
@ 16, the cost of living is also astronomical in Australia. In the end, those on the bottom don't get a bigger piece of the pie.
32
@29: agree with everything you wrote except for the journalism part. Very little of what The Stranger publishes could qualify as journalism. Advocacy, yes. But it's too blatantly one-sided to maintain even a pretext for journalism.
33
Precisely or ballpark?

Wingers have it so good. I wish I was a winger.

I once hated Savage for his support for the Iraq war and I thought his getting Gary Bauer sick thing was the stupidest shit I ever read in my life.

Nevertheless, fuck you wingers. You got the guns. Good for you and your stupid screen names that mean something because you support winger causes. That's on you. Come up with something like RAVEN5 or some shit. Not some feeble ass:

"clean your own fucking house before you condemn others"

Seriously, bro?
34
@27 yeah it is totally sustainable, just cut the wages/bonuses at the top. Oh wait, we can't do that. Ok, tax the wages at the top, nope can't do that either. Alright we'll subsidize the working poor through the tax code, then bitch about it and still not raise revenue to pay for it, then bitch about that. It is the Republican spend and borrow way.

35
@34

I don't think you understand the object of the game.

The way it works is: you take a single, carefully chosen data point, then extrapolate it out over a ludicrous interval, and then base something superficially resembling an argument on it.

Just try it once or twice, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it in no time!
36
who wants to fucking 'go to court?'


People who want justice, mostly?

People who feel that they have been harmed or wronged, and aren't inclined to assuage that feeling by putting on a goddamned cape and going out to punch muggers?
37
@35 Indeed I do get it, tis why I won't disagree with you, the folks in these good old United States have fallen for the Republican borrow and spend policies for decades, it is time for that to stop.
39
@7: things are tough all over. Have you noticed how many minimum wage workers are elderly?

What do you think that's about, eh? Kinda hard to go back to living with the 'rents when you're 72.

Or are all these old people just invisible to you because they're not potential date material?
40
@8: Zeer was probably referring to the cost of the sandwich. The profit margin in the food industry is famously low (fast food or not.) There are only three reasons why we enjoy the choice of so many restaurants.

1. Liquor licenses.
2. Some people are really passionate about food.
3. Some people are really bad at math.

There's a high correlation between #2 and #3.
41
Fast food restaurants won't collapse. They'll find another way. Raise unskilled labor pay too much, and suddenly automation becomes more attractive.
http://www.psfk.com/2012/11/burger-makin…

It's already happening.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDJc1NoGg…
Automation became cheaper, and what do you know? No more car hops.

There once used to be fast food servers called car hops.
http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/…

42
Thankfully, the union members at the Stranger can educate these fast food workers on the benefits of collectively bargaining. Wait, what?
43
Half the equation is wages. But the other half is the artificially high rents and housing costs of Seattle. And I ask you this...would any of these strikers with families be content to live in an apodment?
44
Why is it the only thing the Right can ever think of as an excuse to not do something is a far-fetched social collapse scenario? Marijuana legalization? Can't do, it, society would collapse. Only it didn't. Equal Marriage? Social collapse. Only not. Living wage? same thing.
45
#45

Global warming.

Sequestration.

Dems have far more bogeymen for scaring the public...

46
Stranger scabs braying about people not getting paid a living wage?

This is rich.
47
@44 Insofar as there are any voices calling for restricting immigration, they are on the right, and it's Econ 101 that nothing does more to raise wages than decreasing the labor pool.

But mostly, both left and right are sucking the corporate cock and calling for massive, wage-deflating immigration "reform."
48
Santa Fe’s increase in the minimum wage is due to a cost-of-living allowance clause incorporated within the Living Wage Ordinance. The Ordinance provides for a yearly increase tied to the, “previous year’s increase, if any, in the consumer price index for the western region for urban wage earners and clerical workers.” The City of Santa Fe’s website page on ‘Living Wage’ links to a study conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico which found that, “there were no substantial statistically significant results to speak of suggests that there is no systematic response to the living wage in terms of employment changes.” The report also concludes that negative economic indicators (in the wake of the Great Recession, essentially) may be differently interpreted by proponents and opponents of the Living Wage, but that there is no direct evidence that changes in unemployment levels and business economic performance can directly tied to raises in the minimum wage.
The Sante Fe Chamber of Commerce’s report on the City’s plan to move forward with the cost-of-living adjustment is heavy on message and light on the data: a dozen or so testimonials from business who claim their owns business’s situation is the result of the Ordinance (….no word from the thousands of businesses that are still there), and ‘studies’ conducted by pro-industry think tanks like the Rio Grande Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and the Employment Policies Institute.

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/01/2…
main.abqjournal.netdna-cdn.com/main/wp-c…
http://www.santafenm.gov/index.aspx?NID=…
http://nm-santafe.civicplus.com/Document…
http://www.santafenm.gov/DocumentCenter/…
49
Where the hell do I get one of those "raise seattle, strike poverty" signs?
50
How can consumers support the workers? Boycott? Join protests? Patronize these businesses more?
51
44

just curious.....
what traits would a civilization in decline have that are not present in the Qunited States of Gommorica?
52
@51

I'd suggest you may have got hold of the wrong end of a tautology there, to wit: if it's not in decline, it isn't a civilization.
53
@48: Thanks for that background.
54
@39- I suspect you aren't very smart. My point was that there is a shitload of pressure in terms of surplus available labor, especially at the 'unskilled' (and i really hate that term) end of the scale. Therefore the 'invisible hand of the free market' has no mechanism for increasing wages. So the most reasonable mechanism to supply an upward pressure would be political, like legislating a higher minimum wage.

Yes, this system takes advantage of older people, just as it does with younger people, people without documentation, people with disabilities, people with serious criminal pasts, etc.
55
The reason teenagers make up such a small minority of fast food has everything to do with three factors: 1) companies are forced to hire older workers, regardless of the fast paced nature and intended lower starting pay for the low level task of making and serving fast food, or else risk violating the ADEA; 2) teenagers are disillusioned through television, media, and even their parents, that hard work, especially at an early age is a waste of time; and 3) people are lazy, and rather than try and research and get a job with satisfying pay they go for a job with low pay and then when they get the job they complain about the pay.

If someone wants to get paid more money, either look to advance in the fast food industry to higher level management where you can make good money, or find another job. However, either option would require thinking, and hard work, and we all know that the majority of the nation has no interest in either.

The part that baffles me the most is the utter failure to think through the simple consequences. If a fast food joint is pays 10 workers $8.00/hr to sell $150 worth of food, the place makes $70 per hour before taxes, insurance, rent, litigation expenses, bonuses, etc. If suddenly those 10 workers make $15.00/hr to sell the same $150 worth of food, the fast food joint makes $0.00 now per hour before taxes, insurance, rent, litigation expenses, bonuses, etc. This leads to two options: 1) raise the price of food, and then have people complain they do not make enough even at $15.00/hr to buy the food; 2) close down, and have people complain there are no jobs.

It's really that simple.