Minimum Wage Debate

By Mindy Raffler

It’s been two years since president Obama announced the plan for the implementation of a federal minimum wage increase. Apparently $10.10 an hour is not a high enough “minimum wage” in this day and age because fast food workers across America rose in excitement with the possibility of even more; but is $15 an hour a reasonable wage to pay someone who “flips burgers” for a living? With no disrespect to fast food workers (as I am a fast food worker myself), raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would do more harm than good for our economy.

According to Connor Bolinder, a correspondent for the North Carolina State University, a reasonable “living” wage in several large cities in America is $14.88 per hour – almost double the rate of minimum wage. Connor also states that “everybody deserves to be treated as a human.” If anybody is suggesting that minimum wage is inhumane they need to remember that an employment application does not fill out itself and it’s no accident that people work in the field they do. I’ve been a fast food manager for 15 years. I’ve worked with all types of people, all different ages, educational background, etc., Listening to an employee complain about their job and how they do not make enough money has become almost a daily occurrence, but yet the people who complain the most are the ones who do the least to find a better higher-paying job.

If we raise the minimum wage, American citizens will have more money to spend and our economy will grow, correct? This is what economist Erin Weir for the Phoenix Star thinks. Erin states “benefits of a fair minimum wage are obvious. It means more much-needed income in the hands of low-paid workers.” If those who receive benefits from the state, such as food stamps or cash assistance, are being payed $15 an hour they would no longer be eligible for these benefits. Most minimum wage jobs like fast food workers do not receive benefits as part of their employment package. The cost of healthcare is is very high. It seems to me that the welfare benefits would be worth more than the insurance premiums president Obama is requiring Americans to pay. In fact, I have seen several crew members turn down a management position because it would put their income above the federal poverty level, which would make them ineligible for Medicaid, WIC, and food stamps.

0820-SEATTLE-WAGE-sized                                     [Protesters rally in Seattle for minimum wage increase]

Fast food restaurants have one of the highest employee turnover rates in the employment industry. I have seen so many people come and go over the years that it is impossible for me to put all the names to the faces. A possible solution to the turnover rate is to increase the minimum wage. Sean Williams, an economic journalist and graduate from UC San Diego suggests a higher wage can inspire pride in a person’s job and improve morale, therefore making them more likely to stick with the company for the long run. I know first hand the struggles of controlling labor costs. When employees receive a 10 cent raise per hour every year, fast food restaurants are forced to raise the prices of their menu items by 10 cents just to control the cost of labor and food. Imagine every employee’s wage increased by nearly $7. Unless customers are willing to pay $9 for a junior bacon cheeseburger, our fast food restaurants will not be able to pay their employees, thus resulting in higher unemployment rates to begin with. If the upper class is crippled the lower class will fall also.

As stated earlier, I have worked in the fast food industry for 17 years, 15 of which were in a management position. I have worked with many types of people, of all ages and backgrounds. Some people, such as Matt Walsh, an author for the online newspaper The Blaze, simply do not think fast food workers should earn $15 an hour because they don’t earn it. Lets face it. The stereotype is the “burger flipper” is never going amount to anything.  I have met some great people in my career. According to economist Howard Wall at Lindenwood University, 45% of those working for minimum wage are living in households that have an annual income of more than $63,000 per year. If almost half of fast food workers are members of the middle-class, then raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not going to help the lower class. If anything, it’s going to make it difficult for low-class workers to keep their jobs when employers have to cut back on staffing levels due to the increase in labor cost.

[Protestors rally at a McDonald’s Restaurant]

America has always been known as the “land of the free.” It is where refugees seek shelter when their own country falls apart and becomes too poor or dangerous to live in. There will always be two Americas. There is the one that runs the show, eats the food, and spends the money; then there’s the one that performs the show, makes the food, and doesn’t have any money to spend because they don’t make enough. The truth is people make the money they make because they chose to. We are all given opportunities in life. It depends on who is willing to make something of those opportunities. The minimum wage should not be raised to $15 an hour for fast food workers. If this were to occur, the cost of living would rise dramatically, inflation would occur thus causing the U.S. dollar to be worth less, and thousands of employees would be let go from their jobs. President Obama announced there would be a “federal” minimum wage increase. This does not include fast food workers. The “fight for 15” seems to me to be a battle fast food workers will not win.


8 thoughts on “Minimum Wage Debate

  1. Kaitlyn Pease

    I do not believe that fast food workers should be getting paid 15 dollars an hour. I used to work at a daycare and I was a lead teacher and I was only getting paid 8.50 an hour. When I heard about the pay going up to 15 dollars an hour for fast food workers I was furious. I was furious because here I was teaching other peoples children how to read, write, tie their shoes, how to walk, talk, changing diapers, feeding them, etc. to only get paid 8 dollars and 50 cents per hour. I did not understand how this could be. I am not saying I was doing more than a fast food worker because I do believe that we both have a difficult job just in different aspects. What I did not understand was why I was not getting the credibility like fast food workers were going to get. I think that it is a bad idea to raise pay as well because cost of living will go up just like you stated. I can see if it raises a couple dollars but not to 15. The cost of living would be outrageous, and eventually people will want it lowered again.

  2. Molly Mieske

    The fight for fifteen movements could be very dangerous to our economy. It is unfortunate to see these people feeling they deserve more. To look at the whole picture and see that there are military families that struggle to live above poverty, EMT’s who save civilians lives do not even make fifteen dollars, plus many teachers struggle, along with early learning centers. To put into perspective, a few other occupations that have more responsibilities than the average fast food worker does not even make or fight for fifteen. The danger of raising the minimum wage to fifteen would cause large inflation, making the raise almost non-existent. With raising the minimum wage follows the inflation increase for business to afford the minimum wage per employee resulting in the employee still struggling to live. What will happen if the minimum wage is raised to fifteen dollars and people realize they cannot live on that either? Will they expect another minimum wage raise again? I have to agree with a previous comment, in that if we as a society choose to raise the wages in a few years we will see them fall back down again because of the horrid effects it will have on our economy. This topic reminds me of the housing market crash; everyone thought that would be a good thing and look we as a country are still recovering from that crash. Raising the minimum wage could lead to a sick cycle of events that could potentially harm our countries economic system.

  3. Kaitlin Fredericks

    There are a lot of jobs in the United States that have their life on the line every day, do not get to see their families because their helping other families, and do not make fifteen dollars an hour. It is sad to see people fighting for their country and not making fifteen dollars an hour. It would be difficult to see a fast-food worker make fifteen dollars an hour when their life is not on the line or fighting for our country. There are other occupations that have a lot more responsibility on their shoulders, than worrying about flipping burgers. Yes, fast-food workers work hard for their money, but not as hard as other occupations that deserve fifteen dollars an hour. There is also a lot of danger to raising minimum wage because it is going to affect everyone. If minimum wage got raised to fifteen dollars an hour, then cost of living is going to sky rocket. Cost of living is going to rise because people can afford to buy seven dollar milk or bread because the minimum anyone is making is fifteen dollars an hour. For the people that are making over fifteen dollars an hour currently, it will hurt the most because they won’t get a raise. Yet, they are still going to have to face cost of living rising. If minimum wage did increase, people are still going to think that is not enough to live on, and expect another raise, then cost of living to rise again.

  4. Bobbi Durance

    Mindy I know the struggle. Do I agree that fast food workers are under appreciated and over worked, yes I do. I started working in fast food at 16 years old; I learned money management skills, attended proper food handling classes, and most importantly customer service. I remember all the populations I would serve, I became comfortable around different types of people. This experience paved a way for me professionally. I learned how to treat my coworkers with respect to form an amazing team, and eventually I moved up to management. Physically the job is hard, you are responsible for the cleaning, and stocking which requires lifting and bending. Mentally you deal with an underappreciated boss who never has a positive thing to say, to customers being verbally abusive.
    Fast food is a multi-million dollar franchise and let’s face it, American’s love it. They spend their money on it daily. Why wouldn’t the consumers respect the individuals making their food that they enjoy and spend their hard earned money on? I know when I go to Arby’s I want my beef sandwich to be prepared nicely and fresh. An increase in pay is needed for fast food, however I would not say $15 /hr., but where does all the money go that these fast food chains profit? I feel like this alone should allow more pay to these workers. Any company that pays its employees more puts more time and money into training them to do their job, also those employees are deemed more competent. I no longer work in the fast food industry, not because I did not like it but due to working very hard for little pay. I love to serve people in all forms, and this started my journey on being the helping person I am.

  5. Chelsea Hengesbach

    I am in no way trying to diss on fast food workers because I have friends and family that work in the industry, but I believe asking for $15 an hour is asking way too much. It would indeed cause more harm than good. And raising the minimum for fast food workers means that other jobs should have their minimum wage raised as well because of the differences in skill. While doing my blog post of the wage gap in America, I also found that the “living” wage for a family of for is between $14-$15. If an employee in the fast food industry does not like how much they make an hour then they need to do something about it, like leave and find a better paying job. I think bringing up the idea of the food stamps is a good idea. One cannot be getting paid $15 an hour and getting food stamps. I am in the restaurant industry and even I do not feel the need to get more than what I am making. While I also believe that fast food workers are getting overworked and under appreciated, I feel fortunate to be making anything. And seeing that the fast food employees wanting more is kind of unfortunate because many of my family and friends also have jobs like EMT, firefighter and correction officers. All really hard jobs and they could possibly lose their lives in what they do, and even some of them do not make that much money. So why should fast food employees make just as much or even more than those people do? This was a great topic to write about; I know that this issue is becoming more and more talked about everyday.

  6. Socrates Nyongobela

    What you say is right. Increasing wages for fast food workers is not the solution to poverty that invade the lower class population. A sudden increase from $10 to $15 an hour sound ridiculous to me. If they want to raise the minimum wage, they should think about a general increase, not just fast food workers. Everyone has a particular reason for an increase. No one has enough to spend. Even some college graduates have to work many hours to pay their student loan and many other expenses. Many other labors out there are demanding than fast food but pay even less. I worked for a laundry company for two months; the work was tough, but most workers worked for $8.15 without hope of any rise. Why will the rise be just for the fast food industry? I think because fast food labor constitutes most of the lower class population, maybe politicians are using these methods to get their approval. I’m not an economist, but I agree that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will escalate the living cost to a higher level. Unless government officials pay for that increase, companies will not going to afford without raising the price of their products, resulting in a bad economy. I’m not saying that the wages shouldn’t be increased, but Raising from $10 to $15 an hour is unreasonable.

  7. Joseph Lorigan

    I don’t think fast food workers should be making fifteen dollars an hour. If the wage for fast food employees gets raised to fifteen dollars an hour than the wages for employees that have higher skills deserve to be paid more because of the working skills they have. Employees complaining about being underpaid should do something about it like increase their education or find a skill or different job that pays higher. Fast food employment is meant for high schools students or college students learning how to work in the real world and how to balance work with their personal life. Fast food employment is not meant for making a whole lifelong career out of in my opinion. I agree with your point on the food stamps, I don’t see a way that workers should make fifteen dollars and hour and get federal aid. If that is happening, that is a sign to me that workers are spending their money foolishly and that is totally wrong. Why should fast food workers be making fifteen dollars an hour while some workers like corrections officers and paramedics do not even make that. That does not seem right to me at all. I enjoyed reading about this topic because I keep hearing more and more about it on a daily basis. I have heard that fast food employees are even striking from work because they want their pay raised. The bottom line is, if someone wants to be paid more, they should become more skilled.

  8. Sicilee DAngelo

    I do not believe for one second people working fast food restaurants should be paid $15 an hour. I worked at McDonalds in High school, and seeing in person how things were done, we didn’t do enough nor were our customers really getting quality service and good to receive $15 an hour. Men and women in our military don’t make $15 an hour, and they risk their lives every day, so I sure as hell don’t believe someone who flips burgers all day deserves it any more than someone on the front line. Raising it to $15 would start a lot of hatred and drama. The cost of living would go through the roof. No matter what, no matter how much it goes up, people always want more. If it were to be raised, people will get tired, claim $15 isn’t enough, and the cost of living goes up again.

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