My first job was deliver papers as a kid. But my first job as an 18 year old adult was working at McDonalds for the summer before shipping off to seminary in the fall. And when I came back from seminary I worked at Subway and Pizza Pipeline. And when I went back to college I worked at Dominoes and Burger King. Eventually, I moved on to jobs at restaurants and hotels and then radio announcing and then graphic design and then programming. And I was so happy to have left those fast food jobs behind.
But when I quit programming web and windows applications about 10 years ago to take time off to learn game programming, I took a part time job at McDonalds serving breakfast for minimum wage. I didn't need much money, but I needed a little. And working at fast food was a no brainer job that I could show up for and walk away from without it impacting my real work. And that's what's great about fast food work. You show up and do it and then leave and you don't think about it again until you come clock back in. Unless you are management, of course.
And that of the reason why I have a hard time getting behind a strike for better wages for fast food workers. Fast food work is work that kids do, because it's work that doesn't require taking really any responsibility for the work. I worked it. I know this. It's work on par with making lunch for your younger brothers and sisters. It's minimum wage no skill no responsibility labor work. It's not worth paying the same as work that requires more responsibility and skills.
Now, what I would like to see is an overall increase in the minimum wage in this country. It is way too low. It's obscenely too low. The low bar needs to be higher. I live in Washington state and our minimum wage is approaching $10 an hour. That is fair pay for a new fast food employee. And any fast food place that has brains will give regular raises to employees that stick around more than the average THREE MONTHS that most fast food employees stick around.
That's right. The average time a new employee sticks around at a fast food job is three months. No skills and no responsibility and only three months until they quit. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the wages stay low. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the wages DID go up that maybe people would stick around longer than three months. So, it goes both ways.
As for the no ambition people who stick around at fast food jobs for YEARS and then complain that they make too little money to raise a family? No kidding. You're doing a kid's job. You're not supposed to have kids while you are doing it. You're supposed to do it as a stepping stone toward a job that you CAN have kids doing.
And, I am sorry, but I worked in fast food for too long to buy the bullshit that people like working there and should be able to stick with the job and make real money for working it. No. Nobody likes working in fast food. It sucks. It's hot. There's always high pitched noises going off. You are rushing the food. The food sucks, so, it's not like you take pride in what you are making. You get yelled at all the time. You have to pressure sell to customers. You work doubles. You work weekends. You work half shifts in the early morning and then have to come back later in the night. It's a completely miserable job. Nobody in their right might actually likes it.
But IF you INSIST on continuing to work at a fast food job for YEARS then for the love of god, become a goddamn manager. Then you'll get paid half decent money for your work. You can't treat fast food like it's work at a car manufacturing plant where you can stay labor for life and make a family wage. The only thing close to family wages at fast food are management. And that's because you're making lunch for the kids not automobiles or houses.
If this strike were just about raising the national minimum wage to $10 an hour, I would be 100% behind it. But it's not. It's about the least qualified and least responsible people working in this country asking to be paid money that people who actually worked hard to get qualified and who have real responsibility are making. And it's not fair. It's not right.
And, that's not even mentioning the fact that eating fast food is one of the biggest causes of diabetes and heart disease and even goddamn climate change (the cows). I feel horribly guilty for having worked in the fast food industry. I am paying for it too, because I ate fast food for too many years and now I am overweight and I have high blood pressure. If I can't lose this weight soon, I am going to die sooner in life than I should have.
So, I am sorry, but I can't support THIS strike. I don't want people to settle into fast food jobs. Here we are working to get people to STOP eating fast food and we're going to make fast food jobs a living wage option in this country? Why don't we just throw more subsidies at the oil companies while we are at it?
People having to work fast food jobs is a symptom and just paying them more isn't a cure.
2:51 PM PT: Please, everyone, start a strike for better pay for tobacco industry and insurance industry and gun industry workers while you are getting behind fast food. Because fast food is killing as many or more people than those industries are.
Oh wait. But jobs. Uh huh.
It's not black and white, is it.