One of the big stories over the past few weeks is protests going on around the county by fast food workers demanding higher pay. In some cases, these people are walking off the job in protest. Fast food workers are protesting at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and others. Many of these workers are upset because they believe they should be paid more, in some cases more than double what they are being paid today.
I think the workers have every right to protest, find other jobs or quit. The business model at these restaurants will not adequately support higher pay. The jobs are lower wage because they are repetitive in nature, requiring only basic skills. The jobs were designed for employees with limited training and that can be done will little supervision. Further, the customers of these fast food restaurants want low cost food. They want the restaurants to continue promotions, to continue their $1 menus and continue their discounted ‘combo’ offerings.
The real problem with this scenario is the people who are now working these low skilled, entry level fast food jobs. Traditionally, most of the fast food jobs were taken by high school and college aged students who might be living at home and in a position to make minimum wage. They were gaining good experience while at the same time wanting a flexible schedule where they might be only working 20-30 hours per week.
If you go into most fast food restaurants today, the employees are people in there 20s or 30s, sometimes older, who have children and families to support. No longer are these employees wanting to work part time with flexible schedules. They want to work 40 hours a week, have benefits and be paid a wage that will allow them to support not only themselves, but their family.
The real problem is the people who are in these jobs are low skilled workers who are unable to find other employment. Companies don’t want to invest in training. They want to hire people ready to work and contribute day one. Further, there are a limited number of higher paid jobs, there are not enough manufacturing jobs in American that pay higher wages.
The real long term solution is to create an environment where companies can afford to manufacture goods in the US again. This will create higher demand for skilled works and will result in employers willing to hire and train the people they need.
There are many things that the President and Congress can do to improve the economic conditions and jobs in the United States. I hope that rather than make it more difficult for businesses to operate, with programs like Obamacare, they should be making a concerted effort to make it easier and less expensive. This will result in more higher paying jobs, this is the real solution that these fast food workers want and need.