Fries with that?

I must be getting old.

When I was a kid, my parents informed us that we should go to school to learn a trade/occupation/skill that would allow us to make a living and support ourselves and our families. We all had jobs in high school and in college that helped to pay for tuition and extras, and were rather menial in nature: clerking at the Big Name drug store, filing at Dad’s Place of Work, spending a summer making pots and pans at the factory, working in fast food, landscaping. We all recognized that these jobs didn’t pay well because they were essentially unskilled, unlike that of a nurse or engineer. If you wanted a better-paying job, my parents would inform you, you had better get that education so that you could do so. End of story.

Now there’s a lawsuit going on in which workers at various fast food restaurants are suing because they don’t make a living wage.

I agree that $7.25 an hour wouldn’t be enough to live on, much less to support a family. But when did we start to think that unskilled labor – and that’s what these jobs are – should be paid the same as skilled labor….just because?  I understand that college isn’t for everyone. However, these folks could get a different job that pays better. Or get an education to learn a trade that pays better. Why is it the fault of the fast food industry that fast food workers aren’t paid well? That has always been the case – which is why in the old days, fast food workers were mostly high school and college kids.   It’s why “do you want fries with that?” has become the punchline of jokes.

I know it’s hard out there. (From very personal experience – but that’s another post.) But personal responsibility needs to come into this at some point, yes?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Fries with that?

  1. With the economy the way it is, a lot of those people who did get a college education are pushing down into these unskilled jobs and pushing the high school kids out of them. I had my own struggles starting out, but that was 25 years ago and I truly do think things are tougher now — at least for those just starting out. I get frustrated with some folks, but there are a lot of people who tried to play by the rules and still aren’t getting anywhere.

  2. I agree, Susan, and understand that there are people in those jobs who normally would not be. But the answer is to try to get a different job that pays better, or get an education that would qualify you for a position that pays better. The answer is not to push the fast food restaurants to pay their cashiers $15 an hour. It’s ridiculous.

    The guy who we hire occasionally to do electrical work at the house can’t FIND people who will work for him, and he will actually do the training so that someone could become a licensed electrician. The trades are suffering because young people don’t view that as a career option – and yet, those are the kinds of jobs that never go away. We will always need plumbers, carpenters, electricians….

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