Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ad against wage increase is dehumanizing

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM

New York labor officials are in the middle of a process that’ll probably lead to a higher minimum wage for fast food workers. As they’ve taken public comment over the last few weeks, supporters and opponents of a wage increase have been publicly and aggressively making their cases.

New York’s minimum wage is currently $8.75 an hour, but some activists want the state to set a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food workers.

But yesterday, the Employment Policies Institute released a particularly callous ad that argued against a wage increase. The ad reads, in bold letters, “Meet the new minimum wage employee” and shows a picture of a McDonald’s customer using a touch-screen ordering terminal. Under the image the ad says “New York can establish a $15 fast-food wage or provide entry-level jobs, but it can’t do both.”

The ad is a display of pure disdain for fast-food workers and it implies that fast-food employers do not value their employees and the hard, often thankless work that they do. It sends a signal that these people – and let’s not forget that they are often college students, working parents, and struggling seniors – are expendable and that they are about as valuable as an iPad. It completely ignores the fact that these chains are profitable because of their employees’ hustle and quick thinking.

There is room for debate on raising the minimum wage; personally, I think $8.75 an hour is way too low, especially for full-time workers. But the Employment Policies Institute ad is demeaning and adds nothing of substance to the dialogue. (Employment Policies Institute is a front group for a restaurant and hotel industry lobbyist.)

It also glosses over a simple reality: If restaurant owners believe that touch screen terminals can replace their front-line employees, they’ll probably put them in place regardless of what they’re required to pay workers.

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