Labor Storms the Golden Arches
By Matthew Vadum
Urged on by a failing left-wing president, labor unions are laying siege to America’s fast food restaurants in a desperate bid to stay relevant in the twenty-first century.
They say they want to double the national minimum wage, raising it to $15 an hour, in the misguided pursuit of improving the lot of low-wage employees. As the Washington Free Beacon notes, President Obama called for a $9 an hour national minimum wage in his State of the Union address earlier this year and Democratic lawmakers in the Senate responded by proposing to raise the rate to $10.10.
In embracing the anti-fast food campaign, Obama is engaging in the politics of distraction, misdirecting public attention, trying to change the national political conversation, moving it away from the stagnant economy, the failing Obamacare program, the political scandals that are becoming too numerous to count, and the other grave problems in American society that he has either exacerbated or caused outright.
The Saul Alinsky devotee who lied and cheated his way into the Oval Office is paying back the empurpled thugs of the Service Employees International Union whose crimson-clad members did so much to get him elected in 2008.
Arguments for doubling the minimum wage are utter nonsense, argues libertarian commentator Nick Gillespie: “Even economists who question whether hiking the minimum wage causes significant unemployment for low-skilled workers tend to agree that doubling wages will reduce jobs.”
These protests are about boosting the labor movement’s sagging fortunes and helping President Obama and have little to do with actually helping workers given that boosting the hourly rate will discourage hiring, especially the hiring of less skilled workers.
Far-left groups such as Fast Food Forward, Fight for 15, and the in-your-face ACORN-like Restaurant Opportunities Center, that are backed by MoveOn and big labor outfits like the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers, are behind the effort endorsed by President Obama.
As usual, these professional socialist agitators have been using paid rent-a-mobs to conduct actions against restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway. A similar campaign was waged against Walmart stores across the country on Black Friday last week.
Fast food outlets and Walmart stores have long been targeted by the Left. In the 1980s, ACORN, which was founded in Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, created the United Labor Unions, which it used to organize low-wage, fast-food, and home healthcare workers. Ties to the labor movement gave ACORN a steady source of funding and members and allowed it to leverage its power. Today ULU is participating in the corrupt, fraud-prone enrollment of individuals in Obamacare exchanges.
Critics observe that doubling the minimum wage would kill jobs and hurt minorities. As economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, minimum wage laws themselves have an inglorious history, having been used to price minorities out of labor markets.
According to an Employment Policies Institute report, raising the minimum wage to $15 would eliminate more than 450,000 jobs, devastating about 20 percent of America’s 2.5 million fast food workers.
“This is a conservative estimate because it only includes employment loss among those who hold a fast food job as their primary employment,” the report says. ”Including those who work in the industry as a second job would increase the estimates.”
EPI estimates that employment drops 3 percent for every 10 percent increase in labor costs. Doubling wages would encourage restaurants to “replace jobs with less costly, automated alternatives—including self-service ordering kiosks and even automatic burger makers.”
“These fast food protestors can either have a $15 minimum wage, or they can have the same number of jobs in the restaurant industry,” said EPI spokesman Michael Saltsman. “But they can’t have both.”
Increasing the minimum wage would benefit wealthier, white teens at the expense of minority teens, according to another study by American Action Forum.
“Instead of combating income inequality, an increase in the minimum wage may actually enlarge the income gap by limiting earnings from those who need them most (the jobless) and directing them to those who need it least, the top 20% of earners.”
Those living below the poverty line are more likely to be unemployed, as opposed to earning a minimum wage, so they probably wouldn’t benefit from hiking the wage rate, Doug Holtz-Eakin, head of American Action Forum and a former Congressional Budget Office director.
“Minimum wage jobs are meant to be stepping stones, in which workers find internal promotions,” Holtz-Eakin said. “The key to not being poor is work. You have to have a robustly growing economy with job opportunities and we haven’t had that over the past five years.”
“If you raise the minimum wage and stop someone from getting hired, you’re transferring wages from the unemployed to someone already working,” he said.
President Obama is doing what he can to aid the Big Mac attackers.
In a tedious class-warfare speech on economic inequality calculated to shore up sagging support among his extremist political base, our economically illiterate president struck a Chicken Little pose, warning about the so-called problem of economic inequality.
Earlier this week Obama, an unctuous friend of crony-capitalist Wall Street, referred to “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain.” This inequality poses a “fundamental threat” to “our way of life,” the president pontificated.
Obama also, bizarrely, attributed America’s spectacular economic growth after World War Two to coercive government redistribution, an entirely ridiculous notion.
Americans “forged a New Deal, declared a War on Poverty in a great society,” he said.
“We built a ladder of opportunity to climb, and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn’t be too far, and we could bounce back. And as a result, America built the largest middle class the world has ever known. And for the three decades after World War II, it was the engine of our prosperity.” [emphasis added]
Even though under 3 percent of all workers in the nation (and an even lower percentage of full-time workers) earn the minimum wage, Obama pontificated on this matter that is of continuing, obsessive interest only to the far Left.
“A broad majority of Americans agree we should raise the minimum wage. That’s why, last month, voters in New Jersey decided to become the 20th state to raise theirs even higher. That’s why, yesterday, the D.C. Council voted to do it, too. I agree with those voters. I agree with those voters, and I’m going to keep pushing until we get a higher minimum wage for hard-working Americans across the entire country. It will be good for our economy. It will be good for our families.”
In a way one has to admire the tenacity of the Left which always keeps its eyes on the ball.
Hiking the minimum wage eliminates jobs from the workforce, forcing people onto welfare, and helping unions by restricting competition among those offering their labor. People who are dependent on the government tend to support Democrats.
Raising the hourly minimum wage, whether to $9, $10.10, or $15, isn’t really about helping people.
It’s about recruiting voters.