By: President Dave Cook
Recently, several members asked an interesting question: Why is Local 655 so engaged in the fast food workers campaign, and why $15 an hour when some of our own members are not earning that?
First, a selfish reason: It can help us win better contracts and better wages for Local 655 members!
Overall, we are better compensated with health and welfare, pension, guaranteed hours, sick leave, etc., benefits that fast food workers don’t have. Ask yourself this: If a fast food worker is worth $15 an hour, what are you worth? I would say no less and your employers know it. You ARE the face of the company to customers! They want to keep you. So…if fast food workers are earning $15 an hour, our employers will be forced to pay higher wages to keep you.
The good customer relations you provide is priceless! Raising fast food workers’ pay creates employer pressures to provide you an even better compensation package.
Second, why $15 hour? The living wage in St. Louis for a single adult is $8.69 per hour; for an adult with a child, a living wage it is $17.45 an hour; with a spouse and more kids, it’s even higher. This takes into account food, housing, health care, etc. It’s a formula developed by MIT (http://livingwage.mit.edu).
Don’t be fooled. Fast food workers today are often adults with families and young adults trying to get through school, not just teens looking for spending money. Many have families to feed and serious obligations, but are earning poverty wages! The reports in our Labor Tribune tell lots of those stories.
Third, why is Local 655 involved at all? I believe that in this great country we should not have people working full-time jobs and living in poverty! This is especially true when today corporate profits are through the roof and many major corporations are hoarding piles of cash. If companies were hurting (los- ing money), employee compensation issues could be opened for discussion with a lot of other issues as well. That is generally not the case today, and certainly not for the likes of McDonalds, Wendy’s etc.
Finally, in everything we do, we consider the Bigger Picture. Whether it’s our Union Density Program, participating in the PRIDE parade, raising money and awareness for Sickle Cell, or engaging in the effort to raise the pay of fast food workers, we have to consider the broader implications of a movement or cause, and how it can help Local 655 members in the long run.
Everything we do is related to improving the contracts for you, our members and your families. That’s the reason Local 655 exists.
As for the fast food workers, President, John F. Kennedy said it best: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
If we succeed in raising wage standards for fast food workers, it eventually helps Local 655 members win better contracts.
Similar “Uprisings” are beginning to happen in the non-union service and food industries as well.
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