Clay County Mindset is our occasional post where we ask our readers to sound off on a topic that is in the news.
Protests broke out across the nation yesterday as activists protested low wages paid by retail and fast food restaurants. The groups are hoping to change the minimum wage law to $15 per hour.
Protest groups assembled in Kansas City. One protest led by an organization called StandUpKC encouraged the protesters to get arrested. According to a news report filed on Fox4KC, StandUpKC representative Andrew McConnell said, “The point is to get arrested, the point is to cause a peaceful disturbance to remind people who are oppressing wages that we are serious about this movement.”
Protesters lined the front of a Kansas City McDonald’s, and the Kansas City Police Department ended up arresting a total of 70 people.
You can watch the video of the news report from Fox4KC below:
Proponents like StandUpKC say that an increase to the minimum wage is a matter of “life and death” for low wage workers in our society.
Never has our message felt more critical than it did this past month, when a Kansas City fast-food worker and leader in the Fight for $15, Myrna De Los Santos, died at age 49 because she didn’t have health care and couldn’t afford to treat her diabetes.
Since joining the Fight for $15 two years ago, Myrna had symbolized strength and resilience for me and many others. She was a night-shift manager at a McDonald’s for nearly five years making just $9 per hour, until low pay and failing health forced her to quit four months ago. Myrna was barely able to pay for basic necessities — like heat and rent — much less treatment for her diabetes. Without a car, many people used to see her walking to and from work in the harshest weather.
CEO of McDonald’s Ed Rensi went as far to write a guest post for Forbes in which he blamed the “Fight For $15” protests as the cause for the job-replacing self serving kiosks that are being implemented in stores.
As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.
It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.
Rensi cited evidence that the increases in some states have been detrimental to both businesses and workers.
Of course, not all businesses have the capital necessary to shift from full-service to self-service. And that brings me to my next correct prediction–that a $15 minimum wage would force many small businesses to lay off staff, seek less-costly locations, or close altogether.
Tragically, these stories—in California in particular–are too numerous to cite in detail here. They include a bookstore in Roseville, a pub in Fresno, restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, a coffee shop in Berkeley, grocery stores in Oakland, a grill in Santa Clara, and apparel manufacturers through the state. In September of this year, nearly one-quarter of restaurant closures in the Bay Area cited labor costs as one of the reasons for shutting down operations. And just this past week, a California-based communications firm announced it was moving 75 call center jobs from San Diego to El Paso, citing the state’s rising minimum as the “deciding factor.” (Dozens of additional stories can be found at the website FacesOf15.com.)
Patrick Tuohey, Western Missouri Field Manager of the free-market think tank the Show-Me Institute appeared in a video on their website yesterday discussing the minimum wage issue.
Tuohey contends that research shows that only 13% of fast-food workers who make the minimum wage live in households that are below the poverty line. Half of those jobs that make minimum wage live in households that make three times the poverty line.
What do you think? Vote in our poll below on our comment in the comment section.