Proposed wage increase leads to many questions


Dan Almasi, Sports Editor

Perhaps you were, like myself, sitting at your underpaid job, probably on your phone, when you heard the news that burger flippers and burrito folders alike across New York State will be receiving a substantial, gradual raise over the next few years.

My initial reaction was that of disbelief and disgust. I had half a mind to immediately march into my boss’s office, show her the news story, and ask for a raise. After I gathered my thoughts, I considered the fact that I had to be sitting on my phone at my job in order to even be aware of the fact that this fast food worker wage raise proposition had passed and my self-righteousness faded a bit.

But still, I couldn’t make sense of it all. I thought about the pros and cons and the logic behind it, had a few good half-drunk debates with friends and family regarding the issue, and came to these conclusions:

1. Your mom was wrong, whining DOES work when you’re an adult.

Ok, by whining, I mean peaceful protest. I’m not trying to compare those who stand up for what they believe in to the kid that throws a tantrum at the checkout line because his mom won’t buy him candy.

But I had to ask myself the question, why fast food workers? Why not retail workers, grocery store employees, or any of the other countless minimum wage jobs? Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended the decision by pointing out the fact that fast food workers don’t receive tips like other food service workers do, but still, does that mean all food service workers deserve to make more than all the other minimum wage professions? I truly believe it’s mainly because they protested, and a lot of people were tired of hearing about it.

2. The “$9/hour can’t support a family,” argument is invalid.

I won’t even entirely agree with the mostly valid argument that many people make; fast food jobs are not intended to be for those who are trying to support a family. A job is a job, and oftentimes, people in those situations have to settle for whatever job they can get. They’re right, $9/hour can’t support a family. But those making $9/hour who have children receive food stamps, welfare, and many other government-subsidized benefits. I worked at a grocery store for three years, and learned all too well that those using food stamps were much more careless and liberal with their grocery spending than most of those without.

3. Fast food workers will never be paid at the same rate as EMTs, teachers, military personnel, etc.

Many people are making the argument that $15/hour is on par or above the wage rate of many respectable professions that require degrees. While that’s true, fast food workers in New York State won’t be making $15/hour until 2021. In that time, inflation will occur and wages will increase across the entire spectrum of professions.

4. This isn’t all bad.

I am in favor of minimum wage being raised to $15/hour. While not everyone is, that’s an entirely separate debate. Yes, raising the minimum wage causes inflation, but it also devalues the fortunes of America’s ultra-wealthy and helps to keep America’s disappearing middle class intact. Don’t hate the Fast Food Board for making this decision if you’re in favor of raising the minimum wage, if they could have done this for everyone, they probably would have. If any good can come from this, a precedent will be set and the decision could aid in the fight for a higher minimum wage for all.