Organizations and Fast-Food Companies Respond to Workers' Strike

On Thursday, fast-food workers went on strike demanding higher wages. In response, affected organizations and companies have issued statements.

A statement on the National Restaurant Association website emphasized fast-food restaurants as a training ground (Scott DeFife is the association's executive vice president of policy and government affairs):

"One of every three Americans gets his or her first job in the restaurant industry," he said. "People learn a strong work ethic and invaluable skills that help them for a lifetime. They learn about personal responsibility, teamwork, discipline and accountability.

"Restaurants are the cornerstones of our communities," DeFife said. "The jobs they provide often are the first step toward the restaurant industry's employees achieving great business success."

McDonald's response followed a similar line of reasoning: "Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's." The Chicago Tribune and other new agencies report that Wendy's, Burger King, and Yum Brands didn't respond to requests for comments.

According to WSBTV, McDonald's also said in a statement that raising entry-level wages would mean higher overall costs, which could result in higher prices on menus. In turn, "That would potentially have a negative impact on employment and business growth in our restaurants, as well as value for our customers."

According to USA Today, a representative from the National Retail Federation said, "Today's publicity stunt is just further proof that the labor movement is not only facing depleted membership rolls, they have abdicated their role in an honest and rational discussion about the American workforce."

The Employment Policies Institute, a conservative group, ran a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal, showing a robot making pancakes. The group warns that workers' demands for higher wages will cause "fewer entry-level jobs and more automated alternatives."

Discussion Starters:

  • Conduct your own research about fast-food workers' wages. What sources do you find most credible?
  • What are your own conclusions about the situation? Should fast-food companies pay higher wages?