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More demonization of private enterprise

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7/31/2013 3:15:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago

Here are some highlights from the April 4, 2013 New York Times (NYT) story about fast-food worker protests in New York, which have made headlines again this past week:

Ms. Verges said that her $7.25 hourly wage had not increased since she began working for Burger King four years ago, and that though she had asked for a raise, "They always give me the same excuse---that they're not making enough money."

(1) Are we supposed to presume that "[t]hey" are lying? Over that same four-year span, Burger King famously fell to third among fast-food restaurants in the US.

(2) Four years ago, businesses already were aware of (at least) likely costs of Obamacare, and measures necessary to either withstand its implementation, or how to best work around it. Cutbacks, layoffs, limited hours, and lack of pay raises are all legitimate consequences.

Thursday's strike, sponsored by a labor-community coalition that calls itself Fast Food Forward, seeks to press the city's fast-food restaurants to pay their employees $15 an hour.

That is ridiculous. First, $15/hour is double the current minimum wage rate in NY; whether or not one believes the current rate is too low, assuming that automatically doubling the rate in one fell swoop is feasible---is both reckless and foolish. Perhaps it is just a bargaining ploy, but wait:

The current minimum wage in New York State is $7.25, though lawmakers agreed last month to raise it to $9 by 2016.

So that's already not good enough? The guaranteed raise hasn't even been implemented yet!

Many workers say they can barely get by on the $7.25, $8 or $9 an hour that many receive; $9 an hour translates to around $18,000 a year for a full-time worker.

(1) Clarify "many."

(2) So one reasonably could conclude that the cost of living has increased over the past few years---at least for "many" people, even those with low/middle-class incomes?

(3) Is that before or after taxes?

(4) Why is the exorbitant cost of living in the state of New York not part of this story?

"What happened in November was a very big thing in terms of seeing whether workers were ready and able to go out and strike and take risks in a way that has not happened in the fast-food industry before," said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, one of the main sponsors of the job action.

(1) That doesn't legitimize/justify the protests inherently.

(2) It isn't as big a "risk" to take when "many" prominent politicians and government officials foster a victimization/grievance culture.

"We believe that it's a continuation of a civil rights fight against low wages and for Martin Luther King's movement to win dignity and living-wage jobs," Mr. Westin said.

I cannot believe racism has been injected into this story. (That was sarcasm.)

Attaching MLK's name and ideals to this story must justify the thinking/actions behind protesters and their organizers. (That was more sarcasm.)

[O]ne big change since the November strike was that more than 100 members of the clergy had joined the push to raise wages for the city's 50,000 fast-food workers.

Wow, that will appeal to church-goers, "many" of whom are conservative, to show that even conservatives should get behind this initiative! (Silly NYT, tricks are for kids.)

The strikers' main message is that they want to be paid $15 an hour, although some workers are also saying that they are eager to unionize.

(1) I agree that such is the main message indeed (as opposed to sham civil rights analogies). Kudos to the NYT on that one (albeit buried) point.

(2) How much will be removed from each paycheck for union dues?

"I'm behind on paying my cable and Con Ed bills," said Ms. Verges, whose Burger King is at 141st Street and Broadway. "I don't think $15 an hour is asking too much. I do it all. I do three or four jobs. I take orders, I make the orders. I work the cash register. I say, "Have a good day." I do the inventory. I take out the trash. I get down and scrub the floor. I don't think $7.25 is nearly enough."

(1) I'm sure Ms. Verges is a hard worker, but it is easy to emotionally overestimate one's value to any endeavor.

(2) When Ms. Verges claims to "do three or four jobs" --- she's referring to one job that requires several different skills/tasks. By this rationale, everyone "do[es] three or four jobs" at work. For example, custodians sweep floors, clean tables, and empty trash bins; doctors listen to patients, prescribe medication, maybe perform surgery; actors sometimes eat, blink, and talk on camera (at times simultaneously). Raises for everyone!

(3) Saying, "Have a good day" is worthy of a raise?

Miguel Piedra, a Burger King spokesman, said the company's restaurants "offer compensation and benefits that are consistent with the quick-service restaurant industry."

Ahhh, so it's the entire "quick-service restaurant industry" that's racist. Get Mr. Holder on the phone.

(Note: Ignore the Burger King spokesperson's name, which sounds like it could represent a minority citizen, not that I'm profiling.)

In sum, beggars can't be choosers. Nowhere in this article does it say who's pointing a gun at any of these workers' heads to work where they do.

And if these workers/protestors cannot live within their means, perhaps some of the blame should go to (aside from themselves) politicians/government officials who force the cost of living to be so high (in part) by punishing profitability of private industry.