Happy Labor Day, Remembering what this day is about

I figured it was probably inevitable that I would find posts thanking those who gave their lives in the military for today’s three day weekend on Facebook, but apparently I’ve finally cleared out my friends list and/or unfollowed enough people that I’ve escaped the posts by confused individuals.

Instead of thanking Veterans, who undoubtedly DO deserve to be thanked often for their service, I suggest that each and every one of us thanks someone who is working for minimum wage, especially those who did not have the day off. Thank them for showing up to work, and keeping the wheels turning, despite the usual lack of appreciation and the lack of a living wage. If you go shopping, or eat in a restaurant, make sure to thank the person who serves you.

If you experience any sort of emergency, you will probably be so distraught that you forget to thank the person on the other end of that phone line, but they realize that. If you think about it, thank the police officer, the firefighter, the EMT, the paramedic, the doctor on call.

There are quite a few people who are working despite the Holiday. I worked earlier, though saying that makes me sound like a martyr, and I have to say that it was a very easy day, and I received Holiday Pay, and I’m absolutely thrilled that I am on a really awesome schedule now. 7-3, Monday – Friday, woo hoo! For now, anyway, until we all get to rotate again. Shift work.

So, I shared a photo last night, in anticipation of Labor Day, and it generated a discussion.

Caption: Dunkin Donuts' CEO says $15 an hour is
Source SP Capital 10, USA Today, shared from Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

Naturally, it generated some discussion, because not everyone universally agrees that it is “outrageous.”

I’m not going to copy all of the comments, but this was my response to those who believe that $15/hour minimum wage is “silly” because after all, those jobs are only intended for students and the like:

There are MANY factors involved in profits for businesses. Ever notice how people will pay big bucks for a cup of Starbuck’s Coffee, but McDonald’s can’t seem to sell a damn hamburger for $1? Why do you suppose that is?

Some of it is trends, what’s “cool” and what isn’t. We can’t say McDonald’s isn’t paying enough for brand recognition/advertising. Everyone knows who they are. So what’s the deal? Why a HUGE loss in profits this year?

http://www.forbes.com/…/mcdonalds-second-quarter-earnings/

Sales slumps are the biggest problem for McDonald’s. Why? Why are people no longer buying their food? Yes, there is competition. But I think it’s more than that. Bad publicity would be my guess. A few exposes on pink slurry nuggets.

Service. Now, I realize that people don’t go to McDonald’s for service, but there is a limit to what a person can take and still justify eating somewhere. And good customer service stories don’t travel nearly as fast or far as bad customer service stories.

There was a relatively nice restaurant in Dunnellon that we used to frequent, back in the day, until a bad incident. Up until that incident, we would recommend the restaurant (which I am not naming, because I don’t wish to offend anyone who might be associated.) and we took visitors from out of town, etc., to the restaurant.

Then one night, my parents went there for dinner. Mom ordered prime rib. My mother’s tasted “off” to her. After a bite or two, she didn’t eat it. She didn’t plan on complaining, she just figured that sometimes things like that happen. Any place can have a bad night, or a vendor who delivers less-than-fresh food once.

The waitress, noticing that my mother wasn’t eating, asked. My mother answered honestly, that it didn’t taste right. The waitress went back to the kitchen.

The OWNER came out, and, sounding rather offended, asked my mother what was wrong. My mother answered simply that the meat tasted “off.” At this point, she wasn’t asking for anything, she was just answering honestly. The owner CUT A SLICE OF THE BEEF, PUT IT IN HIS MOUTH, CHEWED, SWALLOWED, AND THEN SAID, “TASTES FINE TO ME, YOU’RE PAYING FOR IT!”

It was the last time anyone in my family ever frequented that particular restaurant. Why? Poor customer service. My mother felt queasy after watching this guy take that bite off her plate, and from the meat itself, and from feeling utterly humiliated in the restaurant.

The previous visits involved customer service that was satisfactory. But sometimes, it only takes one time.

My point is that it benefits a restaurant (or store!) to provide excellent customer service. If you have employees who CARE about the workplace, they are more likely to provide excellent customer service.

I also posted an article about a pizza place in Minnesota that decided to pay their employees an outrageous $10/hour. Guess what? They THRIVED and were able to open more stores. AND – here is their menu:

http://www.punchpizza.com/food/pdfs/punch-regular-menu.pdf

Compare it to menus of other pizza places. Is it outrageously expensive? Nope.

Whatever the so-called intent for those types of jobs MAY be – places need workers. People need jobs. What you are calling “unskilled” labor isn’t as unskilled as you believe. It takes people skills to sell something, or to serve someone. It takes ORGANIZATION and an ability to multi-task to serve another human being in a satisfactory manner. It is hard work, too. And $15/hour is the equivalent of what unskilled factory workers were paid about 30 years ago. Those jobs are no longer available. Of course unskilled workers will have to find jobs elsewhere. And with the rising costs of education, not everybody has the same opportunity to find “skilled” labor jobs. Hell, even people who HAVE an education may find themselves in a position where they can’t work in the field in which they were educated.

Now, before you go complaining that a bunch of really small businesses would go under if forced to pay such a high rate to employees, bear in mind that minimum wage doesn’t even apply in all cases. You can find some exceptions, including students, farm workers, commissioned salespeople, etc., as well as for businesses that have sales of less than $500,000/year and are not engaged in interstate commerce. See the United States Department of Labor for details.

The bottom line is that the rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor. It’s not slavery, but it’s still not a fair wage for the intensive labor performed by workers. And states that have undermined collective bargaining power have contributed to the problem.

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