Minimum Wage Debate Strikes a Date


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August 29 is the day you may want to pack a lunch.  Fast food workers are joining the social media stampede calling for a nationwide strike on August 29, four days before Labor Day.  Demands are for an hourly wage of $15 and, “the right to form a union without retaliation,” posts organizer Low Pay Is Not Ok.  The group also sponsors a petition on their site along with a robust Facebook and Twitter campaign.

Employee walkouts over the last few months were spurred by these demands for a living wage—proposed to be $15 an hour—over the standard fast food salary based on the US minimum wage—$7.25 an hour.  This activity in turn, is cooking up a spectrum of responses across the political sphere.

CEO's are balancing on either side of the minimum wage solution. Along with select other CEO's, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has landed in favor of minimum wage hikes, though not necessarily to $15/hour. Denny's CEO John Miller explains an industry problem reporting higher salaries among employees when industry turnover rates are so high. “The benefit of this industry is we’re one of the largest employers of those who don’t have a good start otherwise,” Miller says during a Breakout interview last month.

President Barack Obama has made increasing the minimum wage a long-standing administration goal that has failed to gain traction in Congress.

A 9 August Bureau of Labor Statistics Study adds the cost of benefits into the combo meal. The study compares compensation costs across 33 countries, placing the United States 12th behind Sweden, Brazil, and Estonia in total compensation (wages and employer expenditures such as health insurance).

The debate promises to remain as heated as fast food wars.