Spotted at Rock and Roll McDonald’s this morning: Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, who was there to support workers striking for a $15 an hour wage.
"Giving these workers a raise is not just good for them, it's good for America," Schakowsky said, as she joined a worker and a supporter dressed as a Hamburglar in presenting a letter to McDonald’s management.
Thursday morning’s strike was part of a 58-city walkout intended to call attention to low wages in the fast food industry. The average front-line fast food worker -- the person assembling your hamburger and pouring your milkshake -- earns $8.94 an hour, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project, and, as a result of those wages, is unlikely to become a franchisee.
Front-line jobs in the fast food industry—including cooks, cashiers, delivery workers, and other non-managerial positions—rank among the lowest-paying occupations in the U.S. economy. In response to growing criticism, industry spokespersons have defended low wages for front-line fast food workers by arguing that these jobs serve as stepping stones to higher-paying managerial positions, as well as to opportunities to eventually own and operate a fast food franchise. These claims, however, are not supported by the facts.
Managerial positions account for only a tiny fraction of jobs in the fast food industry, and opportunities for franchise ownership are even fewer. Moreover, the substantial financial resources required to open a fast food franchise make entrepreneurship an unrealistic option for front-line fast food workers earning poverty-level wages.
Also, the average fast-food worker is not a teenager, but an adult, often working to pay bills. From the Atlantic:
John Schmitt and Janelle Jones of the (very liberal) Center for Economic and Policy Research have gone ahead and combed through the most recent census data to create a portrait of the nation's fast food workforce (the tables below are all theirs). A few interesting stats:
Almost 40 percent of fast food workers are 25 or older.
More than 30 percent have at least some college experience.
More than a quarter are parents.
Meanwhile, the vast majority have at least a high school degree, and a surprising 31 percent have at least some college. Presumably, some of those people are students working their way through school, but exactly how many who knows. The broader point is that these jobs aren't primarily a refuge for high school dropouts.
Tip: you can eat just as quickly, just as cheaply, and more nutritiously at Dominick’s. And, its employees belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers.