Blog PostMarch 14, 2014

Employees lose twice in Minimum Wage Fight

Employers forced to pay higher wages hurts the employees who need the most help

Here we go again.

Minimum wage laws already scorch many of America’s businesses. Now, the fire is being fueled by a new lawsuit by McDonald’s workers over “wage theft.”

There is already a massive push to force business owners like McDonalds to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 per hour. And even more pressure is on in several states where legislation or ballot proposals are in the works to further raise the minimum wage.

Now we have seven class action lawsuits in New York, California and Michigan where workers claim their employer “forced employees to work off the clock, not paid them overtime and struck hours off their time cards.”

New York McDonald’s restaurants are even accused of not reimbursing for the cost of cleaning uniforms.

These union-backed raise-seekers have been at it in earnest since November 2012, organizing strikes at fast food restaurants in some of the nation’s biggest cities, demanding $15 per hour minimum wages and the right to unionize. One of their primary targets? McDonalds.

$15 an hour is not a wage, that’s a handout. That turns McDonalds into a charity.

The global fast food giant has enough struggles as it is. Its U.S. sales fell 1.4 percent over the past year – worse than experts even thought they would. Now, there are higher than ever beef prices and minimum wage hikes that took effect in January in 13 states, with more taking place later this year.

Now, these same culprits have the audacity to further demonize the restaurant chain with this lawsuit.

The unjust part of all of this is that employees who don’t know any better find themselves buying into an agenda that will only hurt them in the end.

Most McDonald’s employees are not feeding a family of four. Nearly two-thirds of them are under age 30. The younger ones are saving for school or putting extra money in their pockets. Nearly two out of three have never been married. Many hold two jobs. A vast majority work fewer than 40 hours per week. Most are also not the only (nor are they typically the primary) wage-earner in the household.

These employees are not being deprived of money. They are being deprived of information that will help them see past the protest and rallies. What all employees need to understand is that working is a right and a privilege. It is not their employer’s job to make sure they show up for work in a clean uniform and well-groomed. It is theirs. It is not the employer’s job to clean their clothes. It is theirs.

Employees need to understand fast food restaurants profit only six cents on the dollar. And one third of a fast food restaurant’s biggest costs are wages.

The people holding the protest signs won’t tell you that forcing employers to raise the price of young, inexperienced workers, will make it less likely they will be hired. They won’t learn from a lawsuit that a minimum wage hike that increases the cost of their existing jobs doesn’t help lower-wage workers. It just creates fewer of them.

This is why we must fight to not only educate the employers, but also educate employees as well as the youth before they are employed. If they are constantly bombarded with minimum wage myths, it becomes that much harder to deliver them the true facts and teach them the value of hard work and working your way up the ladder.

This is why I talk to my employees every morning before the workday starts. It’s only fair that the good people who work hard for me understand that instead of government mandating I raise their wages, what really works is a growing economy that creates more wealth. This is the true job creation machine that creates higher-wage opportunities for all workers. Government policy should give employers more reasons to grow their businesses, not fewer.


Stephen Bienko is the founder and president of 42 Holdings, a business specializing in company ownership within the home and personal service industry. Stephen is also a Job Creators Network CEO leader.