Image: LGBT Nation
Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:
Re "Fast-food workers rally," Business, Aug. 30
Bravo to the fast-food workers who are at long last demanding a decent standard of living.
It is important for all of us to understand the reality that their jobs are no longer the province of high school kids who want more purchasing power than they get from their allowances. More and more of these jobs go to adults who in an earlier generation had jobs that paid well and provided benefits — jobs that are no more.
Let me make a modest proposal: Instead of tying the minimum wage to state law, let us tie that wage to corporate profits. In this way, companies such as McDonald's will no longer be able to get away with what in many respects is indentured servitude.
By all means, give those fast-food workers their $15 an hour and force those greedy employers to provide health insurance. The results will be very good for our country.
Imagine a United States where greasy food eclipses healthy food in price, where even those employed to flip a burger earn a living wage. Imagine further the billions in healthcare savings and the economic boost when millions of employees suddenly have greater purchasing power.
Of course, the fast-food industry would probably be doomed; fast-food employees would become health-food employees. Healthcare professionals would wonder how they might sustain the ponderous girth of their profit margins without that reliable hoard of fat, sick and diabetic patients.
Michael E. White
Labor attorney Brent Giddens, who was quoted in the article, spouts tired warnings. He says paying fast-food workers $15 an hour would send jobs out of the country.
How does one send the job of a cook at the local burger joint out of the country? Do we need burgers so badly that we'll drive to Mexico just to get one?
I guess if we really want to keep wages down, we could support the current method of importing undocumented, noncitizen workers who are afraid to speak up for fear of being deported. Fill the country with the victims of this policy and let them toil at artificially low wages while hiding from the government that might deport them.
That way we can keep all wages low.
Tsedeye Gebreselassie, NELP (National Employment Law Project) staff attorney:
...McDonald's made $5.5 billion in profits in the last year and the money is clearly there. It just needs to trickle down to the workers.
And while a small amount of workers may make the minimum wage, the average wage in this industry for the front line workers is less than $9.
And while some, a very small few, may go on to better-paying jobs in the industry, in general, there's a real lack of upward mobility.
And that's a real problem. And you saw that with the strikes. People who have been working for more than a decade and were still making a single-digit hourly wage, because the industry pay is flat, only 2% of the jobs are managerial. The vast majority are these front line positions where the pay is very low.
Dorian Warren, Columbia University:
Remember, this is in the memory of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. And one of those demands was a $2 minimum wage, which would be about $13 and change today. So the workers like Miss Davis and their colleagues, they're right on the money, so to speak, in terms of what it will take to live a livable life...
"It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it," as Upton Sinclair said once. With all due respect, we know that these companies can afford it. And in fact, the very franchisees [small business owners] are rebelling against the parent corporations, because they're getting squeezed.
So when Miss Davis goes on strike with her colleagues, she's not striking against the franchisees, she's striking against the parent corporations that make the $5 billion in profit and can afford to ease up on their franchisees, so the franchisees can then pay their workers a livable wage.