Fast food workers’ wage demands seem steep to those in other industries

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- McDonald’s has almost two million workers across the world, and while many of them are demanding pay at $15 an hour, FOX 4's Megan Dillard took a look at what kind of increase might mean and what jobs in the Kansas City area pay that amount.

C.J. Russell just began work as a landscaper in the metro.

“You’re going to have stress in no matter what job you do, but this one is definitely is a lot harder on my body than flipping burgers,” he said.

As someone with experience in a fast food kitchen, he thinks the amount the protesters are demanding is too high.

“I think $15 is a little much. I mean, fast food is a basic entry-level job and it’s really not meant to support a family by any means,” he said.

Russell makes more now than he did back then but feels a minimum wage increase should be across the board.

“They shouldn’t just raise it for fast food workers, it should be raised for everyone,” he said.

Michelle Mannell works in early childhood education and believes there is a difference in being able to live and just having a job.

“Our ranges are from $8 up to long-term staff that have been here 11 years that do make $15 an hour. The teachers that we have on staff that make $8, $9 an hour, typically are your college students, the ones that are still living at home. They’re on their parents’ insurance,” she said.

Mannell said a minimum wage increase that high could hurt her business.

“From the management side of it, and from the business side of it, it’s a struggle. It would be a struggle for us to keep our doors open,” she said.

Here are other jobs in the Kansas City area which pay about $15 an hour: office clerks, drivers, pharmacy technicians, correctional officers, and substitute teachers.

MARC (Mid-American Regional Council) provided these numbers. Jeff Pinkerton, a MARC economist, says if fast food workers see such a drastic increase, it could have a ripple effect.

“You could see upward pressure on other wages by seeing such a major increase in the minimum wage jobs,” he said.

FOX 4 learned that more than half of fast food workers in the U.S. are enrolled in public assistance programs, according to a study.

“If you have a family of four you’re not going to make enough to get your family out of poverty. On the other hand, businesses are trying to produce the good at the lowest possible point and we as consumers appreciate having convenient, low-cost food,” Pinkerton said.

McDonald's provided FOX 4 a statement regarding the demonstrations within its workforce:

"At McDonald's, we offer part-time and full-time employment, benefits and competitive pay based on the local marketplace and job level. McDonald's and our owner-operators are committed to providing our respective employees with opportunities to succeed, and we have a long, proven history of providing advancement opportunities for those who want it. We invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills whether at McDonald's or elsewhere. It's important to know approximately 80% of our global restaurants are independently owned and operated by small business owners, who are independent employers that comply with  local and federal laws.

This is an important discussion that needs to take into account the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum wage workers, as well as consumers and the thousands of small businesses which own and operate the vast majority of McDonald's restaurants.

To right-size the headlines, the events taking place are not strikes. Outside groups have traveled to McDonald's and other outlets to stage rallies, and a very small number of McDonald's employees participated."

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  • DC

    Fast food restaurant workers (not management), these were never supposed to be a forever career choice. I’ve done it many years ago to supplement my regular job in order to pay for car repairs that I had to charge. I was thankful for that, but no way should I have been paid $15.00 an hour for doing that job.

  • Jordan Griffin

    That’s BS! A university study shows that if the minimum wage at MacDonald’s is increased to $10.10, the cost of a BigMac would increase by 1 cent! Washington state has the highest minimum wage is the nation and its economy is growing faster than most other states — and its unemployment rate is one of the lowest. So much for the nonsense that offering a living wage would destroy businesses and the economy. Fox 4 should report how states with higher minimum wages have been helped by the decision to raise the minimum wage!

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