You're Worth What an Employer is Willing & Able to Pay You

The Fight for $15 campaign was at it again this past week, as workers and supporters of the movement protested on Thursday in cities across the nation. The union-backed campaign targets fast food work, for the most part, but also retail and healthcare jobs. The demand is that wages be higher, just because, with no talk of moving beyond that type of employment and bettering oneself.

As Reuters reports:

Much of the attention in Thursday’s rallies, in what some organizers called a national day of action, was on McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) fast-food eateries, the world’s biggest restaurant chain by revenue.

…in Los Angeles protesters held aloft large balloons and marched behind a banner that read, “McJobs hurt us all.”

The protesters are another arm of the “we want it, so we should have it!” mentality that is frequently seen among Bernie Sanders supporters. There is no thought of what that type of an increase would do to the company they work for, and ultimately, what it would do to their own jobs. (Can you say “ordering kiosk”, anyone?)

Today, the absurd NY Daily News published a piece showing it can’t handle that the McDonald’s CEO receives a paycheck that is very CEO-like. He even receives perks, such as use of corporate aircraft and company car. The horror.

Unlike what NY Daily News and the protesters think, not everyone in an organization should be paid the same amount. Education, skill, ability, time on the job, and responsibilities associated with the job influence the pay you’ll receive. (That goes for women in the workplace, too.) These fast food workers incorrectly believe that their pay should be at the level they want for no other reason than that they want it. I don’t look down upon those who seek employment at the golden arches or elsewhere. (I worked an hourly retail job in college, too.) But such employment should be a temporary stepping stone, not long-term, permanent employment. Even McDonald’s sees their workplace as a temporary one, as Reuter‘s suggested in the aforementioned piece:

McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb also cited the company’s participation in a program that helps employees earn a high school diploma and obtain tuition assistance for college.

Necessary work for some? Absolutely. Assistance offered? Excellent. A long-term career? For anyone but management, it shouldn’t be.

As far as raising your employees’ wages just because, you may remember Dan Price, the young CEO of Gravity Payments. In April 2015, Price decided to slash his earnings by 90%, and raised the minimum wage in his company to $70,000. Naturally, he received an abundance of praise for his move. But the rainbows and sunshine didn’t last long, and the move backfired, as Investors Business Daily reports:

Two of Price’s “most valued employees quit.” The Times says they were “spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises.”

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,”…

Grant Moran, a Web developer, became frustrated that some co-workers who “were just clocking in and out were making the same as me.”

“It shackles high performers to less-motivated team members,” he said.

Those are just a few of the reactions to Price’s decision. The real-life scenario didn’t turn out as well as those obsessed with hope and change would have liked. Ultimately, a political statement, with little thought behind it, hurt the company and its employees.

Overwhelmingly, those in the Fight for $15 movement do not think about the repercussions of what such an increase would mean. More than that, they do not care about looking beyond their fight for higher pay in order to better themselves. Fast food work does not require anything but basic skills, so if they decide to leave, others will quickly take their place. As Tim Worstall at Forbes said, “higher minimum wage is likely to be a restriction of hours worked”, and for some, a job lost. Is that what Fight for $15 wants? I always thought employment was better than no employment.

Your worth as a person is priceless, but your worth as an employee is what an employer is willing and able to pay you. If that is unsatisfactory, better yourself, your skills, and your education (it can be done), and move on. Otherwise, you’ll be left picketing outside McDonald’s trying to make a statement which makes no sense, and in the real world, will only hurt you.

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