Eiram: Looking for More Than the Minimum

Photo by Priscilla Gyamfi / Unsplash

As planned, workers from various fast food chains around the country protested today in demand for higher wages. From New York, Detroit, Chicago and here in Miami, employees walked out on their shift, stalled traffic, and picketed to bring attention to the need for fair wages. Since 2012 the protesters have been building steam through rallies, hoping they spark enough conversation to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour. For multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell this wouldn’t scratch the surface of their vaults.

Workers should aim higher however.

Instead of a flat rate of $15, which will depreciate down the line as the value of the dollar fluctuates and inflation increases, they should target a “living wage.” This allows them not to settle for the bare minimum, since the spread of $15 varies in each city. $15 in New York travels differently compared to Boston, St. Louis, Oakland, Houston, and Phoenix.

Cost of Living: Making Wage Fair

Using CNN Money’s Cost of Living Calculator I compared living in Miami at $15 an hour on a 40-hour work week, which equals roughly $31,000 a year before taxes, to living in Austin, Texas which is a booming and upcoming market for tech jobs, entrepreneurship and community building. $31,000 a year in Miami has an equivalent value of $25,000 in Austin. So ideally you can make $12 an hour and have a comfortable lifestyle in Austin, compared to $15 an hour in Miami. This spreads the money out and makes it a more fair market. Most importantly the living wage allows for growth and negotiations down the line as times change. In 1997 the minimum wage was $5.15 and after the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 the minimum wage ended at its current rate of $7.25. Those 2 dollars and 10 cents are not carrying over too well.

there’s no reason fast food workers should make $15 an hour flipping burgers when I only make $10 actually taking care of people.
— katie hill (@katelynd_nicole) September 4, 2014

Reading reactions on Twitter make’s you reconsider if we’re all in this together. People don’t see the long term picture. Fast food jobs are viewed as low pay because they are low skilled. Different arguments can be made in each case, but somewhere in our history the perceived, negative notion became that fast food jobs are at the bottom of the list. Now, let’s imagine fast food workers rally, protest, possibly unionize and get the living wage they demand and deserve. What should happen next? Teachers rally and protest and get a wage they deserve. Cashiers, Dishwashers, Porters, Waitresses and Waiters all rally and demand a living wage. And they get it.

This can simply be the first domino in an effect which will benefit your future and future generations to come. Don’t try to stop the movement because you’re not directly involved in it. Step aside.


Originally Posted: Eiram (circa 2014)

Clifford Genece

Clifford Genece