Fast Food Wages Are Not Determined by Needs
Recently, hundreds of fast food workers in dozens of restaurants in New York City made the news by walking out on strike, demanding, amongst other things, a $15 per hour wage. Currently, the minimum wage in New York is $7.30 per hour, and many of these workers are making just above minimum wage.
Normally, when an individual wants a raise, he would speak to how the skills that he brings to the table are not properly accounted for by his present wage. If a fast food worker believes that he deserves a raise, he could speak to things such as his increased productivity and demonstrated record of punctuality, politeness and quality customer service. He could also speak to his experience on the job, making him able to train and supervise newer employees.
By discussing why he is now a more valuable employee, he would be appealing to the employer’s interests. In general, employers want to give raises to retain and reward high performing employees. But in the case of the fast food industry, appealing to the employer’s interest includes recognizing the fact that there are probably several others who are willing and able to do your job for the entry-level wage. Why should your employer give you a raise if they can easily hire someone else to do the same job for your current rate or less? This is a question you should be prepared to answer if you want a raise.
Are the protestors appealing to their employer’s interests? Many people—protestors and commentators alike—are basically saying that the workers should be getting paid almost double simply because they feel that they need more money to cover their living expenses. But to ask for a raise solely based on need is asking for a handout.
Such people are not treating a job as what it is: a voluntary agreement between an employee and employer in which each side properly seeks to make itself better off. Instead, they are treating a job as an entitlement.