Fast food workers across the nation have gone on strike—said to be the biggest service industry strike in history—demanding better working wages and calling for the minimum wage to be raised from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.
In a study released in June 2011, economists at Massachusetts’ Northeastern University found that since the economic recovery began in June 2009, 88 percent of growth went to corporate profits while only one percent went to wages, The New York Times reports.
Rob Green, the executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants, said, however, that “a few scattered protests organized by outside labor groups hardly amounts to a nationwide ‘strike’ or movement.”
“The vast majority of fast-food workers across the country are committed to their jobs and realize that the restaurant industry provides an important first step into the world of work as well as long-term career opportunities,” Green said. “Beyond teenagers and some part-timers, most restaurant workers make more than minimum wage, and can work their way up to management-level and corporate-level positions that provide rewarding career paths. These orchestrated ‘strikes’ and walkouts create headlines but do nothing to foster serious discussion about effective policies to create jobs in today’s still-struggling economy.”
Congress last voted to increase the minimum wage in 2007, and calls from President Obama to raise the minimum wage again to $9 an hour have resulted in no action from lawmakers.
The National Restaurant Association has said that only approximately five percent of fast-food workers earn the minimum wage. Other industry participants have said that raising the minimum wage would lead to increased costs on consumers, according to NBC.
“Nine out of ten salaried restaurant workers, including owners and managers, started as hourly workers,” Scott DeFife, the executive vice president of policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said, NBC reports. “The fact is, only five percent of restaurant employees earn the minimum wage and those that do are predominantly working part-time and half are teenagers.”