Big Mac, little wage: Fast-food workers deserve a break today

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Workers at Wendy’s, McDonald’s and other fast-food chains are among the lowest paid in society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 195,000 workers in Pennsylvania were paid at or below the federal minimum wage in 2012 — $7.25 per hour. Since it hasn’t been raised since 2009, the wage has not kept pace with the cost of living.

This partly accounts for why Big Macs and other iconic, low-quality food is inexpensive. The highly profitable corporations have figured out how to get it to the most customers for as little as possible.

When fast-food workers push for more pay, the franchise holders and corporations that license to them say no. They argue that paying workers more would raise the price of their products.

Recently, fast-food employees across the country have begun to protest their low pay by organizing one-day strikes. Last Thursday, demonstrations broke out at McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s restaurants Downtown and on the North Side. The events were organized by OnePittsburgh, which is working with the Service Employees International Union.

Congress should raise the minimum wage, but until that day comes fast-food workers deserve better from their bosses. If that increases the price of a Big Mac, so be it. But we’re willing to bet Americans won’t even notice.

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