Since so many local fast food restaurant workers are going on strike, the St. Louis community is abuzz with debate. Some support the fast food workers, pointing out that many are parents who are just trying to make it in the world, while others have a much less compassionate point of view. Where do you fall?
In a recent Facebook survey, the St. Louis Observer discovered quite a wide variety of opinions on this particular issue.
“I think if they get $15 per hour I am going to work there,” said Nicole Balint, a mom of four.
Rebecca England said that $15 wasn’t enough, but Denise Bertacchi disagreed, noting that “there’s gotta be a bottom rung on the ladder somewhere.”
Absolutely not,” said Johanna Nunez-Miranda. “Seriously, it takes very few skills to work in the fast-food industry and these "workers" still manage to mess up people's orders! NO! You don't get $15/hr, develop more marketable skills and move the heck on if you want more money.”
Miranda added that people need to pay their dues, and that she’s tired of the entitlement of this generation of workers.
“You want $15 an hour, go get an education,” said Kimmy Meyer. “A job at a fast food establishment is not a ‘career’ choice, it's part-time employment. If they spent as much effort improving themselves as they do whining, they may actually make something of themselves.”
Lilly Sanovia had a whole other take on the subject, saying that $15 might be too much, but the minimum wage really does need to be raised.
“Doing so will mean that working people will no longer be eligible for food stamps, etc.,” Sanovia said. “Everyone likes to complain about people on food stamps but no one seems to take a deeper look at the issue and realize that by having such a low minimum wage our tax dollars are subsidizing corporate profits - our tax dollars (for public services) are making up for what the employers should be giving their workers, but are instead putting in their own pockets. that needs to end. if corporations want to privatize their profits they need to also privatize operating costs.”
Sanovia added that there are plenty of people who are working but still qualify for assistance because “we allow corporations to pay people wages that they can't survive on.”
Sarah Connell, who has an MBA and two teenagers herself, said that fast food jobs should be reserved for teens.
“If you’re in your 30s and not at least in management, you’ve got some issues,” Connell added.
Compassion for Fast Food Workers Trying to Support Families
Jennifer Tomasino, a writer and mom, mentioned the regional burger chain in the Portland and Seattle area that takes a different approach and sees results—it’s called Burgerville.
“The owner started it with the mission that all employees should have a living wage job, health insurance, and all ingredients should be fresh and locally sourced,” Tomasino said. “Even the part time employees have full coverage insurance.”
There are people trying to support their families in all types of roles, she noted.
“As long as they are trying their best, and actually working to support themselves, I wouldn’t call anyone ‘bottom of the food chain,’” she said.
“The average fast food worker is female, age 28-32,” Sanovia pointed out. “Sure, maybe they do have issues. Maybe they have a husband who beat them and now they're on their own. Maybe they were raped as a teen or had a teen pregnancy and dropped out of school. Maybe they're a single mom, going to night school, raising their kids and this is the only job they can find. Who the hell are you to judge another person's life or circumstances? Arrogant.”
Sanovia added that these are working women (not teens) are trying to make a living for themselves and their children.
“Either their employer pays them a livable wage, or we the people have to make up the difference,” she said. “I say we make the corporations - who are privatizing their profits, privatize their operating costs - of which labor is one. We, the taxpayers, should not be subsidizing private corporate profits, which is what we are doing now with our current minimum wage.”
Raising a Family on Minimum Wage
St. Louis resident Lucas Jackson noted that the minimum wage “needs to be increased, period,” but added that $15 was not realistic.
“These are people with families,” Jackson said. “Not highschool kids working for beer money. As far as educating yourself most of my friends have spent about 40k on school to get out making 25k a year. It's a shame most of my graduate friends can't afford to live on their own when they finish school.”
Danielle Ryals said that minimum wage should really depend on where a person lives.
“In some states the cost of living is so high that $15/hour should probably be minimum wage. In Missouri though, the cost of living is not that high (in comparison),” she said.
Jorge Acosta, a legal immigrant who has lived in the U.S. since childhood, said that working at a fast food restaurant isn’t really a trade—that even a “monkey could flip burgers.”
“I raised two kids on the trade that I’m in, so if I can do it so can anybody,” Acosta said. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself and get up and climb the ladders. It’s yours if you want it. Too many people in this country want a hand out, but it’s up to you what you want out life.”
What do you think? Should fast food workers get a higher wage? Do they deserve $15 per hour? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
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