The Associated Press reports that fast food workers and labor organizers are expected to walkout of fast food restaurants in over 100 cities across the United States today advocating for high wages. If the walkout goes as planned, fast-food workers and labor organizers expect this walkout to have the highest participation rate to date. The groups hope that their efforts will bring national and international attention on economic disparities in the labor market, and force the federal government to raise the minimum wage.
What do the fast food protesters hope to achieve?
What can be expected? In cities across the nation we can expect to see workers carrying signs, marching, blowing whistles, and beating drums. There will also be speeches from several community leaders.
But despite the increased participation and the rally cry of different labor groups, the push to have the minimum wage increased will face a tough battle. Many restaurants have a very small profit margin, and any increase in wages is likely to simply be passed onto the consumers through higher prices, also known as inflation, which means that even if workers did get raises their increase in pay would simply go to buy higher priced items (a fact that some labor groups don’t seem to understand).
Additionally, many businesses would like to offer more hours to their workers, but due to the new healthcare rules (which will eventually require them to give full-time employees health insurance), some companies have had to cut workers’ hours to part-time just so they can afford to keep them.
Labor groups gain some traction with fast food workers
According to reports, many fast food workers have historically had difficulty unionizing and working together for changes, but unions such as Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, may change all that as they help workers organize. Critics of the walkout claim, however, that most of the push for protests and walkouts has come, not from the workers themselves, but rather union workers and lobbyist.
Minimum Wage Delusions
But is raising the minimum wage really helpful for fast food workers? Those who push for an increase in the minimum wage continue to fight the law of demand which states that as the price of labor is increased, the demand will fall (assuming all other factors remain constant), leading to increased unemployment, especially for the unskilled.
Having a minimum wage also does something else very detrimental. According to James Dorn of Forbes, “The minimum wage violates the principle of freedom by limiting the range of choices open to workers, preventing them from accepting jobs at less than the legal minimum. It also prohibits employers from hiring those workers, even if both parties would be better off.”
What else might happen if the minimum wage is increased? If the minimum wage is increased and employers raise their prices to cover their additional costs, not only do we have inflation, which was mentioned above, but consumers will simply buy fewer products. When this happens you can expect less profit to be generated for the businesses- which means less job growth and fewer capital investments.
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