Striking at McDonald’s

31 Aug

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My husband and I went to our favorite breakfast place, the Broken Egg Bistro in Chesapeake, Virginia, after our Weight Watchers weigh-in today.

As we thought about our lifestyle as Americans in 2013, we remarked on the fact that our breakfasts at Broken Egg, $7.99 for my French toast, hash browns, and bacon, and $8.99 for his skillet, were about the same price as we would pay at McDonalds, except at McD’s you pick up your own food at the counter and don’t leave a tip!!!

Obviously our breakfasts tasted much better at this most popular mom-and-pop’s breakfast spot in Hampton Roads than they would have at McD’s, with its prepared, prepackaged everything.

So where is the incentive to go to McD’s? The food is no faster there. We were in and out of Broken Egg in half an hour.

Why go to McD’s? To avoid paying a tip?

I think that the strikes of fast food workers in New York City this week taught us a valuable lesson. In order to keep the prices where they are at McD’s (and not raise them higher than mom-and-pop places serving fresh food), they have to pay minimum wage. Meaning less than $10 an hour, which is less than $400 for fulltime work.

No one can live on that, but no one was meant to live on that. It was meant to be entry level work.

If McD’s decides to accommodate the strikers, their options appear to be to either raise wages to $15 an hour, in which case their prices will rise much, much higher, or they could convert to traditional restaurants with waiters and waitresses who work for a lower wage plus tips.

No one is pointing out that that could be the unintended outcome of these strikes. They may bring an end to the fast food industry as we have known it since the 1950’s (McD’s is nearly as old as I am).

But the world is full of unintended consequences these days. As businesses are required to provide health care for fulltime employees, many are cutting everyone back to part time status, too.

It is quickly becoming a world where a person can work 25 hours a week at Burger King, go across the street and work 25 hours a week at McD’s, and still not earn a living . . .

God help us! We surely do need jobs on which young families can live, but I am not sure that just demanding them is going to solve any more problems than it creates . . .

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