(PIX11) — With fast-food workers rallying to double minimum wage to $15 an hour, how would that impact the bottom line of businesses –and would customers be willing to help pay for the cost?
Tionnie Cross of Brooklyn was one of hundreds of fast-food workers crowding the streets of lower Manhattan Thursday.
“At the end of the week I’m still looking at my paycheck like oh my God,” Cross said.
Cross and other employees say they just can’t survive on the $7.25 an hour they’re getting paid at fast-food restaurants such as Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
So together with the Group Fast Food Forward, they’re staging nationwide strikes until they get 15-dollars an hour and a union.
“It is a big jump, I think it needs to be really gradual, I don’t think it will work like that straight away,” said Jamie Liew
Liew is from Australia, where adult fast-food workers already make $14.50 an hour.
As a barista in his country, Liew makes about $21 an hour and up to $30 on the weekends.
But, still he says doubling the industry base salary overnight could have some negative impacts on the economy.
“I’d imagine that a lot of people would get laid off, they’d loose their jobs and I think there’d be a lot of demand from people wanting to get in to fast food because it’d pay a lot more than some other things.”
In New York, a $31,000 salary, or the total income for a full-time $15 an hour worker, would put fast-food workers just under the starting salary for the Department of Sanitation and the NYPD. That’s still about $15,000 less than the starting salary for a teacher with the Department of Education. But for some fast-food customers, that salary is hard to swallow.
“Their job is not that hard as the sanitation or police or whatever,” said Munir Abraham of New Jersey “From $7 to $10 is okay, but double, that’s too much.”
But, most fast-food workers aren’t full-time employees. And New Yorkers like Gwendolyn Chisem, who’ve worked in fast-food restaurants in their past, say there see no problem with what the workers are asking for.
“I think it’s fair, yeah!”
Chisem says she’d even be willing to give up a little bit of the value in her value meal, if it means the employees are paid a little more.
“I’m willing to pay more, because everywhere we live is more, so why shouldn’t they get the fair deal.”
But many of the supporters say Chisem shouldn’t have to shell out more bucks for her Big Mac to help pay the wage increase. They’re calling on restaurants like McDonald’s to dip into the nearly $5.5 billion profit it made last year.
“The fastest growing industry in the city is retail and fast-food workers and it’s basically a race to the bottom and that’s why there’s a drain on the economy in the city of New York,” said Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn.
But more than doubling wages, as employees are asking for, could actually cost a company like McDonalds more than $8 billion dollars, causing profits to go into the red.
As for Cross, she says even if they get the wage increase she still plans on finishing school and finding a full-time career, but she’s happy to be part of the strike to make sure that moving forward she and her co-workers will be treated fairly.
“I just want a better education and a better future for me and hopefully me doing this is going to help people in the future.”