Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fast for Fifteen- The Push on Minimum Wage

Workers protesting in Boston

The movement known as Fast for Fifteen began their largest efforts yet on Wednesday morning, staging protests and sit-ins across 200 cities nationwide in fast food chains and airports. What originally began as a push to increase the minimum wage of fast-food workers two years ago, Fast for Fifteen has now, however, expanded their efforts to include retail, airport and homecare workers. 

The current national minimum wage of service workers is $7.25, an amount that is immensely difficult to support a family with. Fast for Fifteen seeks to raise this to $15, a motion of which President Obama supports. The Fast for Fifteen movement has already reached a degree of success, achieving statements by multiple corporations, such as McDonald's and Target, to raise their wage floors. 

The expansion of this movement is significant in improving the quality of life for many and ensuring financial security for Americans in the future, as now not only workers in the fast food industry have hope for higher wages. Although Fast for Fifteen have acquired initiatives by such large corporations, many worry it is still not enough to ensure that such a change happens. Moreover, political activists believe this movement is long overdue, especially as the 2016 presidential elections arise, as it is the first wide-scale challenge to an otherwise resolute wage system. 

Despite their initiatives, do you think corporations such as McDonald's and airports have incentive to guarantee such wage changes? What do you think these motions mean for the economy and future of the U.S. if the minimum wage were to increase to $15? 


Elena E said...

I find it surprising that McDonald's decided to raise wages for workers so quickly, considering the history of fast food corporations. Of course, the raise in minimum wage is overdue, as many low-wage workers struggle to get by. However, despite the initiatives and struggles of workers, some companies do not have that high of an incentive to guarantee every worker a higher wage. Demand for fast food will not be going anywhere any time soon. If there is demand - someone will be a supplier. If McDonald's decides to "crack the whip," so to speak, and deny higher wages, there will definitely be workers willing to take the low-pay jobs for whatever reason. But it is good to know that McDonald's and Target decided to cooperate with Fast for Fifteen. It is a step in the right direction, in my opinion.

Jacob Huth said...

While I'm inclined to agree that the current minimum wage is insufficient to the needs of those who receive it, I don't think large corporations such as McDonalds have very much incentive to agree to something like the $15 dollars an hour pushed for by the Fast for Fifteen group. As the BBC article states the wage raise is set to go "more than $10 per hour by 2016" which is a far cry from $15 dollars, likely because this would mean more than doubling the wages paid to current minimum wage earners which would be a huge shock to the system, as well as the fact that a smaller raise will still help minimum wage earners and put less pressure on the business end of things. Although it's a bit cynical I don't really see anything as high as $15 on the horizon, but movements like this have proved successful to a degree that corporations have taken notice in raising minimums on their own, so I believe that a more limited national increase could be on the horizon.

Rene C said...

McD's and other corporations certainly do feel the pressure. Wheter they have the incentive- is hard to say. It's not all that easy to just push the minimum wage to more than double of what it is now. If we were to increase the minimum wage by 106%, we would need to account for the increasing of wages for many other jobs to ensure economic stability. It would have a negative effect on those who are already earning $15 + an hour. If they were having a hard time living on their wage, imagine a nationwide 106% minimum wage increase. The market will adjust and food, living costs, and basically anything would become more expensive. What I see, similar to what Jacob said, is instead of a sudden huge increase to $15, there would be an increase for sure to maybe ~$10 or so, but not $15. Had the U.S increased it to $15, it would not be instant that's for sure. I would see the government increasing the minimum wage slowly by slow and letting the market recover in between each time frame- which will be a huge plus to our economy actually. The slow increase of the minimum wage increase money flow at a steady rate- to encourage more spending and letting the market adapt over time.

Alex Medwid said...

This protest may well make an impact on politicians, and it may make an impact on customers of striking restaurants, but I don't see this having any effect whatsoever on McDonald's. McDonald's has designed its business so that there is basically zero cost to replacing workers. In fact, McDonalds has a history of shutting down franchises that are suspected of unionization and other pro-worker tactics.

Target is another matter. Although it is not an extremely high-paying business, it tends to brand itself as being above McDonalds/Walmart. I think it is definitely possible to see $15/hr from Target both to end the protests and for positive publicity. By publicly raising wages to $15, Target could put a lot of pressure on the competition.