A month ago we reported that US fast food workers in several US cities, namely New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Mo., and Flint, Mich., walked out Monday in a one-day strike demanding a doubling of their pay. Not unexpectedly, even though the president himself has been a strong proponent of rising the minimum wage, the corporations balked and the strikers achieved nothing and just in case there is some confusion, there is a lot of minimum skills, minimum wage applicants (not to mention robots) out there which translates into two words for the strikers: no leverage. However, these concepts may be foreign to a fast-food labor force that probably just wants a day out in the nice weather and to take a break from hard work for a change.
Some more on what would be keeping up Marx at night if he were alive today, from Bloomberg:
Protests that began in New York last year are spreading to cities including Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is advising the strikers. The non-union workers are demanding the right to organize and wages of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25. They now make $9 an hour on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By simultaneously targeting the largest chains, including Yum! Brand Inc.’s Taco Bell and KFC, Subway and Burger King Worldwide Inc., organizers want to force a sector-wide response. “What the workers are trying to do is hold the corporations accountable,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU president.
Well, have they considered quitting and finding a higher paying job? No? Oh...
Of course, instead of focusing on what really drives labor dynamics, slack, the workers' appeal is to what has made the Obama administration so very memorable : the "fairness" doctrine.
If the minimum wage were raised to $10.50, fast-food restaurants would see about 2.7 percent higher costs, according to a letter signed by economists in July in support of raising the federal minimum wage. The eateries could absorb those cost increases by raising menu prices and by allowing low-wage workers to get more of the business’s revenue, it said
Somewhat ironically, or perhaps not at all, it seems that even when striking, these minimum paid workers can barely find the motivation to go out and strike.
Previous strikes haven’t had much impact, and turnout was thin. What’s more, under agreements with the restaurant chains, the franchisees who own and operate most fast-food stores in the U.S. typically are responsible for hiring and wages. While they can raise prices to offset higher costs, they’re already under pressure to pay rent and royalties to the restaurant chains at a time when consumers remain reluctant to eat out.
And of course, the "humanitarian" angle:
While winning the right to organize and make $15 an hour is “hard to visualize in this day and age,” the campaign is “raising public awareness, and at the very least it’s putting raising the minimum wage higher on the agenda,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at University of California at Santa Barbara. “It’s important for social movements to set a new standard.”
Surely Americans everywhere will sympathize. At least until they learn that their 99 cent meal has become the 105 cent meal. Then it gets interesting: i.e., whom does a population of obese, fast-food addicted Americans blame when their processed, genetically-engineered pink mcnugget slim, suddenly goes up in price.
Then there is the whole economic "recovery" part:
Nicholas Williams, a 28-year-old McDonald’s worker in Indianapolis, has been looking for a second job because the $7.35 an hour he earns isn’t enough to buy food, pay bills and afford the daily $4 bus pass to get to and from his job.
"They don’t treat us with respect and they don’t treat us fairly,” he said. “I’m not going to work on Thursday.”
Well, it is a free country (and the NSA certainly is free to eavesdrop on every phone conversation). And keep in mind: it is the part-time jobs that are "improving" in the US!
“There are no good jobs hiring -- out here, it’s only fast food,” he said in an interview yesterday. Williams, who’s cooked fries and grilled burgers at the restaurant for about 17 months, is planning to strike.
But, but... The recovery? Obama and Bernanke promised...
Finally, and going back to the key topic here: leverage, and the lack thereof, we go back to an article we posted back in April 2011. It is just as relevant today, if not more so, as it was over two years ago.
McDonalds Hires 62,000, Turns Away Over 938,000 Applicants For Minimum Wage, Part-Time Jobs
This is what the US economy has been reduced to: McDonalds reports that as part of its employment event to hire 50,000 minimum wage, part-time (mostly) workers, subsequently raised to 62,000 it received a whopping 1 million applications, or a Tim Geithner jealousy inducing 6.2% hit rate (h/t X. Kurt. OSis). Alas, the US economy is now so pathetic that the bulk of the population will settle for anything. Literally anything. And the saddest part: over 938,000 applicants were turned away. Here's hoping to Burger King needs a few million janitors in the immediate future too. And yes, aside from reality, things in America are really recovering quite nicely.
McDonald’s and its franchisees hired 62,000 people in the U.S. after receiving more than one million applications, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Previously, it said it planned to hire 50,000.
The April 19 national hiring day was the company’s first, said Danya Proud, a McDonald’s spokeswoman. She declined to disclose how many of the jobs were full- versus part-time. McDonald’s employed 400,000 workers worldwide at company-owned stores at the end of 2010, according to a company filing.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s said sales at stores open at least 13 months climbed 2.9 percent in the U.S. after it attracted more diners with items such as beverages and the Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus burger. The fast-food chain has about 14,000 stores in the U.S. and more than 18,000 abroad. About 80 percent of all McDonald’s stores are franchised.
Of course, all of the above excludes the millions of unemployed stock trading algos and robots which have nothing to do with stock volumes about to hit zero. They would be more than happy to flip paddies for $0.00/hour.