Monday, 2 September 2013

A Lesson In Economic Reality

Willietta Dukes is going on strike. Why? Because she isn’t paid enough by Burger King, or so she thinks:
I make $7.85 at Burger King as a guest ambassador and team leader, where I train new employees on restaurant regulations and perform the manager's duties in their absence. Before Burger King, I worked at Church's for 12 years, starting at $6.30 and ending at just a little more than $8 an hour. I've never walked off a job before. I don't consider myself an activist, and I've never been involved with politics. I'm a mother with two sons, and like any mom knows, raising two teenage boys is tough. Raising them as a single mother, on less than $8 an hour, is nearly impossible, though.
Well, that's hardly surprising. There's a reason why 'single mother' isn't a career option anyone would recommend, except here, where the benefits can be better than working for a living...
Burger King says they can't pay employees like me higher wages because it would force them out of business. Yet last year it made $117m in profits and its CEO took home $6.47m. It would take me 634 years to earn that much.
So what? Burger King is a business, it exists to make money for its shareholders, not pay you a lavish salary for work which has little market value and can be done by anyone with a minimal skill set.
I've worked in fast-food for 15 years, and I can't even afford my own rent payments.
Worked in fast food for years. That's the epitome of her career. It makes you want to weep...

And, as Tim Worstall points out, the reason behind the cuts to your hours is most likely to avoid costs under ObamaCare. Who wants to bet Willietta voted for him?
As a guest ambassador, my job is to keep customers happy, greeting them at the door, checking in with them at their tables and picking up their trash. I'm good at what I do.
I’ve no doubt you are. And Burger King consider that $7.85 per hour is the worth of what you bring to their company.

11 comments:

Victoria Poulin said...

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Bucko The Moose said...

A guest ambassador? Is that Yank for waitress?

okjoe58 said...

She has a point, surely. Rewards at the top end are too high and at the bottom too low

Michael Adams said...

'Guest ambassador' is new to me, but hostess, maitre d' are well known. At McDonald's they call them 'crew chief.'In a way, I don't blame these people, not because they ought to be able to inflate their wages artificially, but simply because they have so little knowledge of economics that they fall for these scams.

20 Rothmans said...

@okjoe58:
Willetta can take her highly-honed skills somewhere else. They don't include running a profitable conglomerate, (or, it seems, a successful life).

I do not understand why one person's ability to earn money should have anything to do with the earnings of people doing something completely different. Why pick on the CEO of Bugger King? What about what Madonna earns - or Opera Winfrey?

Despite all her woes, she is far better off than the majority of people in Africa - in fact, most people in the world.

She seems oblivious to the fact that a fluffer in a fast food joint isn't exactly curing cancer. They probably employ her to ensure that customers leave as soon as possible to free up some seats.

JuliaM said...

"A guest ambassador? Is that Yank for waitress?"

Beats me!

"She has a point, surely. Rewards at the top end are too high and at the bottom too low"

According to whom? The market sets that rate, and the market is not concerned with anything other than value.

"...they have so little knowledge of economics that they fall for these scams."

The educational system working as untended, I fear.

"Despite all her woes, she is far better off than the majority of people in Africa - in fact, most people in the world"

Indeed. Was reading a comment at a US blog the other day about the relative work ethic of new immigrants (from Africa) vs the average 4th/5th generation African American.

Would they settle for minimum wage jobs? At first, yes. But aspirations would be higher.

John Pickworth said...

The sort of job Willetta is doing is traditionally thought of as a first rung on the employment ladder. The fact she's been on that rung for so long suggests she might be incapable of progressing to the next one.

So what happens to people like her when wage costs cause this bottom rung to disappear? Because it surely will disappear, and frighteningly quickly too.

There are already popular restaurant chains opening in the States where the roles of greeters and order takers no longer exist. You give your order by way of an iPad type device (or via an App on your own mobile) and at some restaurants your meal arrives on a conveyor belt. These casual dining restaurants are growing fast and the traditional fast food chains have been watching them very closely indeed.

An industry expert on the American news suggested that a $1.20 increase in wage costs would enough to cause the big fast food chains to hit the automation button... with an almost overnight loss of 40% of these bottom rung jobs.

Squires said...

It should be noted that the SIEU (giant, bazillion-dollar union, politically powerful and with a very, very well-remunerated upper echelon that draws off workers' pay-checks and any taxpayer money they can acquire) has concentrated the demonstration for the California strike at a single location. They know most fast food workers will show up to work, so they need to heard anyone they can get (or bring in from the outside) into one place for maximum effect when the press inevitably assists in their propagandizing.

Conservatives and libertarians have already organized a counter-demonstration, consisting simply making sure to give franchises plenty of business in support against the union's protection racket.

The unions don't give a damn if they force business to adopt automation. They're in it for the money and power they can get for themselves, period. They bleed one business, or industry, or region dry, then they move on like locusts, while pointing back at the ruins they've created as the result of their previous host's alleged "greed".

But the thing is, the businesses and their top brass isn't the enemy these unions are most hostile to, their not the ones most subjected to threats, intimidation, and the occasional bit of old ultra-violence. The unions, like any good Marxist entity, is primarily concerned with having complete control over all available labor. A monopoly. And that makes free laborers, those not beholden to the unions and their byzantine, irrational little rules, their ultimate enemy.

John Pickworth said...

And that makes free laborers, those not beholden to the unions and their byzantine, irrational little rules, their ultimate enemy.

Perfectly demonstrated by the beating I received from three huge female union reps (think Cell Block H) when I declined to join their cuddly trade union back when I was shouty little 20 year old.

Black-eye and cut lip, not so good. Canteen table all to myself for the next few weeks... perfect.

Lerxst said...

"a fluffer in a fast food joint"

Blimey. I didn't realise Burger King were offering that these days. Do you have to have a Whopper to get that service?

JuliaM said...

"So what happens to people like her when wage costs cause this bottom rung to disappear? Because it surely will disappear, and frighteningly quickly too."

Soylent Green..? No doubt the SIEU will be pushing for it, so long as they profit!

"...the beating I received from three huge female union reps (think Cell Block H) when I declined to join their cuddly trade union..."

Yikes! You have to pay good money for that sort of thing, in, errr, 'selected' establishments.

Or so I understand... ;)

"Do you have to have a Whopper to get that service?"

:D