By Amanda Farghli ’16
Should the minimum wage be a living wage? The debate has been going on for years and prices are going up, the MTA is raising its bus fare, rent is increasing, but minimum wage? It’s only gone up $1.50 in the last two years.
“If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.” said President Barack Obama in the article “Obama’s claim that raising the minimum wage helps low-wage workers ‘make ends meet’ ” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post. “If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise,” Obama said in proposing a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.
He’s right, people working full time on minimum wage are barely making enough to live on. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in the article “Cuomo to seek $11.50 minimum wage for New York City” by Jimmy Vielkind that he would attempt to have the minimum wage at $11.50 for New York City while Seattle and Chicago are striving for $15.00 an hour. Bill Braton, the state director of the Working Families Party (W.F.P.) said that a family can’t survive on even $13 an hour in New York City.
Now some people claim small business can’t afford the high wages, and that it will lead to many layoffs. However, according to the Washington Post, those paying workers a higher salary will lead to workers caring more about their customers, and productivity increasing dramatically.
In the New York Times article, “Paying Employees to Stay, Not to Go” by Steven Greenhouse and Stephanie Strom its proven that if minimum wage workers are paid a decent pay, they will go above and beyond that it would hurt the company to fire them.
Now why can’t McDonalds or Burger King do the same? They have more than enough money, earning annual revenue of $20 billion. It’s a belief in America that you shouldn’t set up a career in fast food and that no one could possibly expect to be paid a living wage working in Burger King, and that’s true, for people in America.
Burger King in Denmark pays its workers $20 an hour according to the New York Time’s article “Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark” by Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse. Surely this is just a rough conversion of the currency of Denmark right? Burger King definitely doesn’t pay its workers a living wage?
Oh but it does, within the article you read about Hampus Elofsson a Burger King employee who works 40 hours a week and is not only able pay his bills and rent, but put part of his pay check in savings and used the remaining to go out and enjoy a movie with his friends.
Denmark isn’t the only place outside of the US that pays its workers a wage higher than the current Federal minimum wage of 7.25. In Australia minimum wage is $16.88, France is $12.09, and in Germany it’s $11.75 an hour.
A company in America that pays its workers a decent wage is none other but Costco, paying their workers $20.89. From the look of it, it may seem that Costco is making more than McDonalds, Burger King, or even its counterpart Wal-Mart, in revenue. Not a chance. According to USA Today, Wal-Mart, as well as McDonalds, exceeds Costco in their annual revenue by billions of dollars.
There is no excuse to not raise the minimum wage to a living wage that a person can survive on. It’s sad that this is a debate and it has to be fought to have the minimum wage raised.