By closing time, your feet throb. The smell of pepperoni and tomato sauce—or grease, onions, hamburgers, fried chicken—soaks into your pores, your clothes; even your car after working 12-hour shifts in front of 500 degree ovens. Your status and intellect is often dismissed as insignificant—if you’re even acknowledged at all.
I know. I literally grew up in fast food nation.
My dad was a pizza pioneer. To say he worked hard does him and the others who brought family-friendly fast food to the tables of hundreds of millions of people a grave injustice. He usually had three days off per year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. His day started early and ended early—the next morning, that is.
If he were alive, he’d be incensed by the current “Fight for 15” campaign and strikes led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to raise the wage of fast food workers from its current average of $9 to $15 per hour. He wouldn’t understand people jumping to the middle rung without the climb—without the effort of learning new skills, and through diligence and perseverance, moving up or out.
That’s our system. For hundreds of years it has worked incredibly well for millions of Americans. The problem today is that sweat equity is deemed dumb; the adage to “work smarter not harder” has replaced roll-up-your-sleeves industriousness. Too many want a handsome salary for mediocre performance in low skill jobs.
That logic is the perfect fodder for unions desperate to grow their depleting private sector membership. Welcome to rank hypocrisy on parade. The SEIU—the same anti-free market rabble-rousers who stirred the “Occupy Wall Street” movement—is motivated by getting their own greedy hands on more cold, hard cash.
Their blarney is straight out of “Norma Rae:” Miserly corporations rake in record profits on the backs of low-wage employees who don’t earn enough to feed their families. In New York City, for example, the union claims fast food workers earn only $11,000 a year. Disingenuously, they don’t mention that most of these folks are employed part-time, which brings the salary down significantly.
Righteous sound bites aside, it isn’t some faceless fat cat in Westchester County who’d be hurt by this shakedown. Truth is more than 75 percent of fast food restaurants are locally owned franchises—small businesspeople, like my dad, who spend God-awful hours around hormonal teenagers and Hobart mixers.
When you’re selling $5 pizzas, $6 subs and a McChicken sandwich for a buck, the operating margin is small. Like really really small, averaging two percent for franchises.
Oh, but no worries! The usual suspects in the media and academia say that the pay raises are not a problem—if wages were doubled, the price of a Big Mac would go up a mere 68 cents. Hogwash. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post retracted these false stats and printed the true increase, which is closer to $1.28 per burger.
Attempts by the Left to evoke sympathy for plight of the poor burger flipper are ludicrous. Don’t like the hours or the pay? Not interested in moving up in the industry?
I have a suggestion. QUIT.
Go back to school, work your butt off and find that job that comes with the coveted corner office and two-martini lunch. If you’re not willing to do that, then stuff the complaining.
That’s the choice. Whining and artificially setting wages to satiate the gluttonous SEIU appetite is not about providing for the exploited proletariat. It does, however, have everything to do with expanding the union’s power by demonizing a phantom villain; in this case your local Subway franchisee.
Daddy Warbucks is not the guy (ahem, or his long-suffering daughter) beating out pizzas 362 days a year. It’s the union and their shadow puppets. Occupy that.