During my trip to New York City, I happened to stumble (almost literally) into the middle of a strike.
I was trying to relate to my father that maybe flipping burgers was an enviable position when he was my age when Death and Taxes published an article illustrating what I could only suspect in a very visceral way: McDonalds teamed up with Visa to create a website with the intent of helping their employees make a budget, which is truly a worthwhile endeavor. However, in doing so, they damned themselves. From the article:
…when I first saw [the mock budget], I assumed that the top line was for a part-time McDonald’s employee. Then I got out my calculator– that is actually what you would make if you were working full-time at McDonald’s. 1,105 dollars a month.
Now let’s say that the “second” job that they budget in here (feels like cheating, but OK) is also minimum wage. That would mean you were working about 62 hours a week, on average. Oh, wait. That’s if they live in Illinois where the minimum wage is $8.25. The national minimum wage is $7.25. That translates to 74 hours a week. That’s almost a whole other full time job.
Forbes also published an article echoing the message: minimum wage (which is what most fast food establishments pay) is financially unsustainable. Couple this with the dramatically increased cost of living in New York City, and the painful reality of the economy no longer serving the middle class becomes apparent.
Let’s think about this: if people need second jobs to become financially sustainable, then if we made people’s first jobs financially sustainable, that second job could go to someone currently un- or underemployed. Part of the problem with the unemployment numbers isn’t that people are just not at work; they’re not working enough, or not getting paid enough to get off unemployment.
Check out the Good Men Project report for more info on the strike.
I had no idea that a strike was scheduled for that day. The mainstream media had been silent on it. I was actually coming back from a yoga class when I heard the shouts. It’s not uncommon to see a crowd of people slowly moving along the sidewalk around Union Square, but there were cameras involved. Cars were stopped. Police were at first nowhere to be found, and then a few with really thick accents came forward to try to clear the streets once the speeches began outside the McDonalds location. That’s when I snapped this picture; looking at it through a black and white filter, I couldn’t help but think there was something timeless about striking on Union Square. As a Union member, I was proud to witness this event.
Photo: Kevin Macku/instagram