I already extensively wrote on living wage before and the importance of it so I won’t do it again. This post is merely a critique from my observations on the large negative reaction this has created.
In New York State there has been legislation approved for a more speedy (relative the past 20 years) increase for Fast Food worker’s wages. The Fight for 15 group is a 4 year battle that started with this industry and it’s expanded to many other industries where low wage workers are fighting for a minimum wage. I have seen many angered by this. Mainly people in student loan debt, get paid lower than $15/hr., or believes “everything will go up”.
These workers fought for their rights. So this is the fruit of their labor. It is not the fault of these workers that you have student loan debt (Fault: Education Industrial Complex). 30% of Fast Food workers have degrees. It is not their fault that your employer pays you peanuts (Fault: Your employer). Wages does not affect inflation like many have claimed it does (Cause: Supply to Demand relationship & Market Power). You can not complain about what they did, accept that “corps don’t operate that way”, then get upset at their wage increase. I understand your anger. However you’re directing it at the wrong group. Which leads me to point out something. This isn’t the first time this has happened.
In the past, when the labor movement first made it’s waves in the early 1900s, there were many labor strikes. Especially in factories. There were times when employers lost workers (mainly European immigrants) and they strike busted by hiring desperate and recently migrated from the south Black people (“scabs“) for lower pay, so they effectively ended many strikes by getting the strikers to gear their anger to the ones they thought were less than them. Effectively ending strikes and in the end not really changing their labor environments and rehiring strikers with even less pay they had before. Many other factors contributed to striker efforts being wasted, but I bring this piece of history up again to highlight how fast food workers are being used to incite misdirected anger from the working & middle classes yet again.
There are many industries in the U.S. that pay below living wage and it’s a bad state of affairs. But the one industry a lot of people feel harbor “the lazy and ambitious-less” is fast food. What better way to get the masses to go against the trend of living wage increases than to incite their inner “classist” feelings “the American Dream” fed to them all these years? Even though this is a huge tipping point for the Fight for 15 and other industries involved with them, many where this could possibly benefit don’t see it that way. They see it as an insult almost. “How dare they get $15/hr before I do?!” American capitalist individualism wins with statements like these. Many rather dig through each other’s pockets for change before they’d dare look into the eyes of the ones who created such a situation in the first place.
It’s an age old tactic. Will we all fall for it again?
However, congratulations Fight for 15. You all are heroes and inspiring. Even if so many others may not see it that way.