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While Fast Food Protests Sweep the Country, Australia McDonald’s Pays $15 Per Hour

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On Thursday, August 29th, low-wage employees gathered to the streets, demanding wages of $15 per hour, more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and the ability to form unions. The protests went viral early today, spreading to 50 cities including, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago — with throngs of employees working for large fast food chains walking out on their shifts.

It’s not livable,” Tyree Johnson told HuffPo. “I’ve been dedicated to McDonald’s for the past 21 years. I still make $8 an hour.”

Johnson’s story is one of many. “I’m tired of choosing between paying rent and eating,” Tamara Best-Watkins told the crowd outside the Rock N’ Roll McDonald’s in downtown Chicago. “I’m tired of choosing between taking my daughter out and paying rent.”

Officials in the restaurant industry warn that increased wages will hurt employees in the long run.

“Mandating increased wages would lead to higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and, ultimately, lost jobs and opportunities for employees to become managers or franchise owners,” Steve Caldeira, president and chief executive of the International Franchise Association, insisted in a statement. “The franchise industry is a proven job creator and career builder, yet efforts to double the minimum wage to $15 would clearly jeopardize opportunities for existing and prospective employees.”

While there is some truth to Caldeira’s words, he’s being a bit over-dramatic. Yes, US fast food chains would hurt, but only if wages were increased to $15 overnight. The key here would be to increase wages gradually while simultaneously creating a new business model. You need only to look at McDonald’s chains in Australia and France, where  full-time adult workers earn a minimum wage of $14.50 an hour and $12 an hour respectively, for an example of high wages and profits co-existing. Note that both country’s minimum wages and cost of living are significantly higher than the US’ and even these overseas models have their kinks.

In turn, franchises would have to hire fewer workers, create more efficient management and charge more for that beloved Whopper. But when it’s virtually impossible to live off the average salary of a fast food employee, this might just be the next necessary step.

H/T NRNThe Atlantic + PicThx Reuters 

By Charisma Madarang

Charisma has an undying love for gritty literature and drinks coffee like water. She also hails from Toronto, Canada and is a die-hard Maple Leafs fan, sigh.

10 replies on “While Fast Food Protests Sweep the Country, Australia McDonald’s Pays $15 Per Hour”

If you don’t want to make $7.40 per hour – don’t accept a job that pays $7.40 per hour. Take your qualifications elsewhere to see what you’re worth. Nobody hijacked you off the streets and forced you into a job that is low paying. Do a good job, get experience and you will put yourself in the position to make more money.

Yeah a big mac in Australia costs only $0.70 more than in the U.S. But not only do Australian fast food workers get almost double what they get here (when Australia’s min wage is converted to USD), they also get paid vacations and holidays, and employer provided health insurance. I would pay that small amount more to ensure that people make enough to live on and have a decent standard of living. Apparently most Americans would not and are perfectly happy to see our fellow citizens mired in deep poverty with almost no chance of bettering themselves. The whole franchise opportunity thing is a joke. How are you ever going to save enough to buy a franchise if your paycheck doesn’t even cover rent, food and clothing? Also try getting a second job or going to school with an ever changing schedule and being fired if you aren’t available anytime management wants you to be there. Those places do not want their employees to better themselves they want them stuck right where they are. poor, desperate and willing to take any amount of abuse for a few peanuts.

If it’s not livable, then go find another job. It’s a fast food job, for crying out loud, it’s SUPPOSED to pay minimum wage. If you get better pay, are you going to give us better service? Paying more attention to orders to make sure they’re right? Giving us a damned smile once in a while instead of acting like we’re wasting your time? One thing is for certain, though, even that isn’t worth paying anymore for a Big Mac than we already do, so if the price of the food goes up, that’s it for me.

What kind of fantasy world do you live in where absolutely everyone has the ability to just choose not to work in fast food? And what, “it ain’t broke”? Really? I just don’t understand the complete selfishness people are so proud of displaying when paying a little bit more for your already dirt-cheap food would help thousands be able to put food on the table. The minimum wage hasn’t been brought up to speed with inflation. So that means that most people who are working these jobs are earning wages that can’t compete with today’s prices.
The minimum wage is not a liveable wage. Why is it so wrong to want to be paid more? You’re talking about these workers as though they aren’t deserving of a fair wage. As though they are all awful at customer service and would spit on your food if given the choice.
Let me guess. You also think that they are also unskilled, lazy workers who don’t feel like looking for a “real” job. People like you haven’t really worked these jobs before and won’t understand how awful it is to work in a place where you have to deal with insults from customers (who think you need to kiss their asses), stay on top of food safety regulations, move quickly, stand in a humid, hot kitchen for almost all of your shift, be ready to do whatever your manager feel like having you do at any moment (unload a truck of food, mop the floors, clean the tables, take out the trash, restock other supplies on the floor, etc), trying to get as many hours as possible every single day, and more. Basically, doing all of the things that makes the company money.
It isn’t fun in any way to work these jobs. But there are more minimum wage jobs in the US than any other type of job. So when you pair that with an inability to get a job (hello, unemployment) that has an income that would actually meet your needs, there is no real choice. Nowhere is it written that a fast food job HAS to be minimum wage. It can always be higher, especially if the minimum wage doesn’t allow the employees to afford basic housing and food costs. If McDonald’s had the choice, it would pay their workers much less than it currently does. They are only about the bottom line, putting their interests first, before any of the actual people who are making that money for them.
If the minimum wage were raised (or at least if McDonald’s paid more), employees would feel a LOT less stressed about basic expenses. You clearly don’t know the effect that it would have on these workers so I’ll break it down for you.
Knowing that you can pay your bills means that the large amount of stress you used to have won’t be brought to work. Customers would receive good service, also helped by the fact that they can tell that you are relaxed, pretty happy to get them served, and will get a feeling of being cared for. You have no idea the emotional toll living on poverty wages is like, especially if you have someone to take care of, like a kid. And if you’re living in a city that isn’t cheap (like NY), the stress only grows. McDonald’s could EASILY pay their workers an amount that’s closer to what they are worth, but the people at the top are greedy. They don’t want to pay more, even though it would make more sense for a business to ensure their employees are happy and want to stay (greatly reducing the price of turnover).
You need to stop listening to those right-wing airheads who are ignorant and privileged, only really sticking up for big businesses and not the people. Do some actual research. Talk to people who actually work these jobs. A biased point of view based on a handful of people who agree with them keeps you in the dark, happily spouting off their nonsensical, selfish view points.

“You also think that they are also unskilled, lazy workers who don’t feel like looking for a “real” job. ”
Having worked in fast food before yes, most of them are. I was one of the few that were not and guess what – I moved on along with the few other folks that were not lazy.

Let me tell you something, Mr/Miss know-it-all… I HAVE worked these jobs. I’ve served food, made food, washed dishes, mopped floors, I did whatever I had to do to get myself to a point of making a real living to where I could support myself and my son. I know what stress is and I know what real work is. I know what it means to come home from work so exhausted you don’t have the energy to *do* anything else, yet you push yourself to get through the end of the day to come home and work even harder. Cooking, cleaning, being a mom (the hardest job in the world) and everything it entails. I can also tell you that working those jobs is where I saw the laziest people who were only there to make that buck, they didn’t care about the customers. So don’t sit there and preach to me about real life, my friend, because I know what real life is, thankyouverymuch. I’ve busted my ass to get to where I am today because I knew I couldn’t live on minimum wage the rest of my life.

If you want something, you’ve got to go out there and get it, not expect it to be handed to you. And I never said minimum wage was high enough to survive on. I just said that $15 an hour is a bit much because there are people out there working SKILLED jobs that don’t make that much per hour.

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