What’s the job worth?

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 13, 2013

The attempt to unionize McDonalds and fast food workers is something which should draw our attention. Most of these folks are paid minimum wages but limited to 29 hours per week so that companies may avoid paying them expensive benefits for health insurance, retirement and other considerations. But lost in the picture is that the fast-food industry was initially seen as an after-school hustle for students trying to fill in an allowance gap. The fact that the elderly are now camped behind these counters while others are trying to make ends meet as store greeters is signaling that something is wrong as well as non-productive in the job market.
At lunch, my receipt had calculated on the end what an 18 percent tip and a 20 percent one would be. Though the food was OK, the service wasn’t worth 10 percent, let alone those other numbers. Waiters, many other restaurant workers and domestics do not make minimum wage but are dependent on tips to bring them to that level. This is a dirty little jobs secret which should end.
Why are these businesses requiring me to pay the wages they should? If they can’t pay the wage they may go out of business. If I cannot afford the tip, the same may still happen.
The use of unpaid internships is being legally contested, for some work hard at these jobs to get a resume leg up while too many are relegated to meaningless grunt work. As this cheap labor is also being challenged, not only is a crucial career learning opportunity possibly being lost but a forum to learn job skills disappears.
Americans don’t want to deal with markets — i.e. the job is worth what someone is willing to pay to have it done. The concept of a livable wage speaks to socialism, unionism and all those other cries to be supported when the skill level doesn’t demand the wage being asked.
Lest folks think it is elitist to believe that education should correlate with wage earnings, have you heard what plumbers, electricians and many of the blue collar tradesman can make? I spent all day trying to find a sign painter or someone who did hedges (not just trimmed bushes) who would work for less than $25 per hour. There are jobs out here that go wanting because they don’t fit the image of what too many undertrained and marginally gifted believe they deserve.
Dr. Ada M. Fisher, a former county school board member, is the N.C. Republican National Committeewoman and author of, “Common Sense Conservative Prescriptions: Solutions for What Ails Us, Book I.” Contact her at P.O. Box 777, Salisbury, NC 28145 or drfisher@dradamfisher.org.