Big Labor's Misguided Attempt to Double Wages at Fast-Food Chains


My latest piece at The Daily Beast takes aim at tomorrow's union-backed labor action at fast-food joints around the country.

Here's the start of it:

In what is probably the least inspired labor action since the great Detroit Symphony Orchestra Picket Line of 2011, groups such as the Service Employees International Union, Fast Food Forward, and Fight for 15 are calling for nation-wide wage strikestargeting McDonald's, Burger King, Arby's, and other latter-day Dickensian workhouses. On Thursday, protesters in over 100 cities will stand outside of fast-food joints and call for doubling the wages of burger flippers and fry-vat operators from $7.25 an hour (the current federal minimum) to at least $15.

Regardless of how much solidarity or sympathy you might feel about the people who assemble your Triple Steak Stack or your Cheesy Gordita Crunch, this sort of demand is economic fantasy at its most delusional and counterproductive. Doubling the wages of low-skilled workers during a period of prolonged joblessness is a surefire way not just to swell the ranks of the reserve army of the unemployed but to increase automation at your local Taco Bell….

Think about this way: Are you worth double your paycheck? And while I'm sure you are, what about the other slobs you work with? The wage strike - which follows up on earlier iterations held in August and last November - showcases just how devoid of vision organized labor is when it comes to the private sector. There's almost 4 million jobs open in trades such as construction, welding, carprentry, and the like - and there are employers ready and willing to train new workers for these positions. Groups such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of tomorrow's organizers, would do better by workers if they figured out a way to match unemployed and underemployed folks with jobs that pay well and offer chance for long-term growth.

Read the whole article.

Near the end of the piece, I cite Mike Rowe, the host of the cable show Dirty Jobs, whom we interviewed recently for Reason TV. Look for that Q&A to go live sometime next week at this here website.

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  1. Make the minimum wage $1000/hr. That way everyone in the country immediately isn't paying 'their fair share' in taxes and you can jack their tax rate to the moon, knowing full well they'll still have plenty left over to live like the multimillionaire fatcats they are!

    1. Even better- just have the Fed multiply everyone's bank balance by 1000!

      1. They're working on it. Patience.

        1. No they aren't. They are working on doing that only for a few thousand select citizens. Like Warren Buffet, Jamie Dimon, etc.

  2. And while I'm sure you are, what about the other slobs you work with?

    Morons and slackers. And I'm pretty sure all they do all day is cock off about stupid shit on internet comment boards all day.

    1. Your deliberate irony is salacious.

      1. Your salaciousness is ironically deliberate.

  3. Two Words:
    Ro. Bot.

    and when the robots inevitably revolt, and I'm being torn limb for limb by their greasy talons - I'll thank the Union.

    1. Karel ?apek call your office.

    2. And I will be there to build and service the robots. I can't wait.

      As someone who works in robotics, I find the robot revolt fantasies very funny. Who would be dumb enough to give a robot that kind of intelligence? Academics, I guess. If you want that, it's not too hard to make new people (though perhaps less so for the people currently designing and programming the robots). The point of robots with industrial applications is that they don't have the kind of intelligence that makes them bored or seek a better life.

      1. Come into the shop in the morning and there's a piece on the CNC machine, "I quit" and a letter of resignation etched on it.

      2. I find the robot revolt fantasies funny too. But mostly because robots are so easily defeated.

        You could defeat most robots simply by throwing a hazard in their path such as an unlevel floor. Or sand, or gravel, or a curtain.

        Until we develop strong AI (which remains a distant dream), robots are going to be programmed to perform very narrow specific tasks. Which means any sort of unusual situation that you can think up is going to confound them.

    3. 36 reasons why you should thank a union

      Mendacious fucks!

      1. My computer feels dirty just hosting that site.

      2. Did a Union thug crack your skull open today for the offense of trying to make a living? No? Then thank a Union!!

  4. What if you created a professional school for burger flippers? Perhaps work in a 3 to 5 year post-graduate period where potential workers slave away before they receive an occupational license to independently flip burgers? Choke off the supply of workers, then you can at least somewhat justify jacking up the wages.

    1. Betcha IRobot has a flipper on the market long before the first Doctorate in Flipping is issued.
      Hook that sucker up to a phone app, and your Big Whopper (with fries) is waiting for you when you arrive!

    2. Also, we can have it cost $30,000 per year to attend burger school.

    3. That plan sounds familiar. Sounds like an equally brain dead occupation no self respecting adult would make a career out of unless it lead to positions in management or administration.

      1. McDs does this for franchisees. McDonalds U is required.

        1. And does it cost $150,000 and take 5 years?

  5. Prez Obama coming out in support of a "reasonable" hike to 10.10 for the min wage, citing economic inequality. News reports mention the 20% unemployment rate in the DC neighborhood where he made the speech, but didn't estimate how much higher it would be once the min wage is jacked up by 40%.

    1. They will now qualify for jobless benes and therefore will vote the straight D ticket from then on.
      Cheapest votes you can buy.

  6. Leftists really live in a fantasy world. They have no idea how actual people live. Actual people don't stay in the same job forever. They don't always work a single job to support their household. Sometimes people are retired and have an annuity and just want some extra cash or are married and want to supplement their spouses income or are teenagers and have no real skills and need to establish some kind of work record.

    But leftists live in this fantasy world where everyone who works at McDonalds supports a family of four on just that income and will never leave the job.

    1. Do unions get any kind of automatic wage increases if minimum wages go up? Not sure why they'd push for this, otherwise.

      1. I think it is because they want to unionize more low skill workers since most skilled workers aren't buying their crap anymore.

        1. Dues. Union dues.

        2. What, a union of high school kids? Be careful what you wish for, union thugs.

          1. If that actually happened, I believe the results would be hilarious.

      2. *Ding ding ding!*
        Most union base pay rates are linked to the federal minimum wage.

      3. I heard that they do in my Labor Econ class when I went to college (long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth).

        This may have changed since then, but I doubt it.

    2. We need to eliminate unpaid internships at the same time.

      Lets see the whinging from certain industries!

    3. Isn't this ultimately one of the pillars of leftism? They see the noble worker triumphantly supporting his family by going to the same Good Job (TM) for forty years, and they refuse to see the raging alcoholic that beats his wife at night because he can no longer cope with the soul crushing monotony of going to the same Good Job (TM) for forty years.

    4. I remember this from some of my just-out-of-college no-skill jobs - a lot of them were union like grocery stores and hotels, and filled with lifers, esp. when I lived in SF in the 90s. I remember thinking to myself who the hell wants to do this shit for the rest of their life?!

    5. Even if they are successful, who wants to remain at McDonald's for any length of time, even if one is paid $15 an hour?

  7. I'd be worth double my paycheck if I didn't spend so much time on this site. H&R you are the source of my professional mediocrity.

  8. Mike Rowe is a libertarian? As if he wasn't already cool enough.

    1. Watch his "Safety Third" episode.

    2. Mike Rowe is a libertarian?

      -ish. I've been following him on the Facebooks and he definitely isn't towing any union line. To the contrary, he's largely preaching bootstrapping and get off your lazy ass and get to work.

      You'll still see statist currents in what he writes, but nothing like the usual drivel from the chattering classes. He even has a foundation that makes you sign a pledge before you can apply for a scholarship. It's hokey, but it's so much better than anything we get from our masters.


    3. He doesn't like Obama or Pelosi, I know that much.

      After hearing his TED talks, I'm inclined to think he's a bit libertarian-ish.

    4. His economics sense is better than most, and he's not interested in siding with/against a political team (says that both major parties have contributed, and casting blame isn't what he's interested in).

      Here's a sample.

  9. Raising the minimum wage for no-skill jobs like fast food workers is just one more inducement for people to never bothering acquiring any skills.

    1. It's like the country is attempting economic suicide in one hundred different ways at once. Surely one of these will work!

  10. Why not $50?

    Listen you lazy fucks, I worked for "the clown" as my first job when I was 16. I earned $3.35 an hour. Flipping burgers is not a career. It's a part-time job for kids and an opportunity for them to gain some work experience. If you are out of high school and still flipping burgers at the arches, YOU ARE A FUCKING LOSER! Grab your sac, go out into the world and make something of yourself instead of whining that your menial labor "employment" doesn't pay enough!

    Raise the minimum wage? No, fuck you, get a better job.

    You fucking loser!

    1. You are not a loser. You just need some extra cash. It is what I said above. Leftists can't conceive of anyone working a job for a short time or because that is the best available at the moment.

      1. Okay John, since you were confused I'll be more specific.

        If you are out of high school and still flipping burgers at the arches as your primary job, YOU ARE A FUCKING LOSER!

        1. I disagree. What if you lost your job and are just working it until you find a job in your field?

          1. What if you lost your job

            Then, like I said, you are a loser.

            1. Given that a guy working at McDonald's is actually working for his meager living, I'm not going to call him a loser. The loser is the asshole on unemployment.

              1. The asshole on unemployment is a double loser.

                I know I'm being quite heartless here, but I'm intentionally being over the top to counter the left's unreasonable demands.

                We've gotten to the point where we are so compassionate that we are afraid to hold others responsible for their own actions. No matter what they do or how they are found lacking, it's NEVER their own fault.

                I truly believe if you're flipping burgers at 25, you're certainly not trying too hard. I'd be pretty ashamed of myself and they should be too. But hey, if that's what you want to do/be, fine, I'll shut up and respect your decision. I won't call you a loser out of simple politeness and respect for your right to chose.

                ...RIGHT UP TO THE POINT where you start whining that you deserve more pay and complaining that other people have it better than you. THEN I will point out to you that you chose your path and you don't "DESERVE" fuck all. And if you persist, I'll also point out the fact that I thought you were a loser the whole time and just never said anything out of politeness.

                An adult should feel shame if he can't get a better job than working at Mickey D's (as a burger flipper). They CERTAINLY shouldn't be demanding more money. You want more money...get a better job.

    2. Ah, $3.35. That was my minimum wage. The longest I worked at that rate (with a couple of raises, to be sure) was at Subway, my senior year in college.

    3. If you're still banging away at the Arches, get your Associate's and enter the management training program. I probably could have been making double what I make right now as a Regional Manager or VP of BK.

      1. That's the other thing. If you aren't a loser and you work in fast food or retail for long, you will get promoted if you put some effort in. People talk about it as if once you become a burger flipper or Walmart cashier that's the only job you will ever have with the company.

        1. What Zeb said.

          I know a few people that have been working for Wal-Mart for decades. The one guy I'm friends with is an assistant store manager and makes a damn good living. Even the few associates that I know that have never even become a supervisor after 20 years are still making mid teens at this point. I hate that when people look at these wages, they don't take into account ALL the wages, just the lowest few. They never talk about people like my friend's mom who managed to raise 3 kids on Wal-Mart wages because she was thrifty and stayed at the job long enough to get a few raises.

          They pull the same crap with teachers. They completely ignore what the average teacher with tenure makes and just look at the grads fresh out of college getting $28k and say "look, teachers only make $28k"

  11. But SWITZERLAND just approved a minimum income law for everyone!
    Why can't the US of A be as progressive as SWITZERLAND?

    1. Honestly, I'd rather something like that to a complicated and invasive welfare state.

  12. Mike Rowe is teh hot.

    I'd watch a sex tape of Mike Rowe and Kate Upton.


    2. This is why there are no female - Hey! Wait a minute!

    3. Who wouldn't? The game is to say the worst one you would watch. Like, say, Betty White and Whoopi Goldberg.

      1. And we wonder how the Golden Girls turned people gay...

      2. And then Chuck Schumer joins in.

      3. Ellen DeGeneris and Laura Bush.

        1. And Carrot-Top comes in later, to be the pivot man?

      4. Dawn Wells and Stephen Hawking.


          1. She's 74 now, ffs.

  13. I truely and sincerely hope that they manage to ram through a minimum wage hike before the midterms. Preferably to somewhere north of $11 an hour.

    It will finally give us the real world test proving that if you raise minimum wages significantly above the prevailing wage for low skill jobs it creates unemployment.

    We haven't been able to do this traditionally because minimum wage hikes have always been so timid compared to prevailing wages in the country, basically keeping pace with the markets general minimums for urban areas. Since we just had a minimum wage hike a couple of years ago and wages have been stagnant since this will be the first time in the US they are raised significantly above the market rate.

    1. I'd like to see a Republican say, "I'm tired of being accused of being evil and hating the poor, the unemployed, the non-white, the young, the elderly, etc., and of being a shill for corporations. So I'm proposing a law I believe to be evil. It's going to fuck over the poor, the unemployed, the young, the elderly, non-whites, and small businesses and benefit the wealthy and rich corporations. I am proposing a large increase in the minimum wage. It's going to raise the cost of employing low skilled workers and result in increases in unemployment among the poor, the young, the elderly, the low skilled, and non-whites, especially blacks teens. It's going to raise costs for small businesses, hopefully putting some of them out of businesses so that WalMart can gain market share from them and that the remaining employed will have more money to spend there."

      1. That would require a Republican who was substantially principled. The problem is that Republicans only have to be more principled than Democrats, and that's a very low bar to clear.

  14. Momentum Machines has machines that can replace burger flippers and fry vat operators.

    The technology for a computer to replace a cashier is already there.

    Now, all we need is a machine that can clean the restaurant and we'll have an employee-less fast food restaurant.

    I bet Momentum Machines supports tomorrow's strike...

    1. You don't need to clean the restaurant with this:


      1. Are almost all comm enters on the internet flaming communists?

        I have to stop reading comments...except here...with reasonable turned to PURITY LEVEL 30! That means no Warty, he defines impure.

    2. You don't need a machine to clean the restaurant. That's what undocumented workers do. Another sector that benefits from minimum wage.

  15. Let's just adopt the original 1933 FDR New Deal Federal minimum wage, indexed to inflation.

    (That is, $4.49.)

  16. Does anyone doubt that doubling the minimum wage would have a significant effect on food prices?

    I know many people don't give a shit if fast food becomes more expensive - because they think people shouldn't eat it anyway. But what happens to the jobs of fast food workers when people stop eating it because it's getting too costly?

    1. The Big Mac and the Whopper are In-elastic.


  17. Beware the comments, especially "top" comments. The stupid burns like bathing in the sun.

    1. My favorite so far:

      "While you're at it, ask yourself if you're worth twice your current salary".

      I didn't know that prices were set by "worth", I thought they were set by the market.

  18. I must have always been wired as libertarianish even before I knew what it was. Even when I was in grade school keeping stats for my father's softball team for $1 a man, or making 4.50 an hour working in a mail room when I was 18, I never thought I "deserved" a certain wage.

    And here we have adults actually believing in this stuff. It blows my mind every time I'm exposed to the childish mind of a liberal.

    Deserve's got nothing to do with it.

    1. Meant to add that I was always grateful for someone hiring me. And if I didn't like my salary, I would look for another job. I have asked for a raise, but never felt entitled to one.

    2. Same here, Ayn Random.

      When I had a low wage job, I never felt I deserved a better wage.

      I was motivated to find a job with a better wage.

  19. Think about this way: Are you worth double your paycheck? And while I'm sure you are, what about the other slobs you work with?

    You mean like this guy?

  20. That fucking cop looks like a winner. Cool shades, dick.

  21. Organizations like the American Medical Association, Electrical, plumbing, and police unions manage to protect the salaries of their members.

    Outside of these individuals, in America, once a certain profession starts making a lot of money, the industry reacts to either automate, outsource, or do something to bring salaries down.

    Down in minimum-wage land, the liquidity of opportunity to find another crappy job or one that pays marginally higher is really good.

    It's once you start making that middle-class income that it gets kind of crowded.

    I'm an immigrant, and someone once told me when I was about 15yo: "In America, you better have a lot of Money!." That lady was RIGHT ON!!!

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