On Twitter yesterday, @MattBinder sought out tweets of people who were criticizing fast food workers for demanding higher wages…then retweeted them along with tweets earlier in their timelines of them complaining about not having money. It was quite brilliant. Binder is very dedicated to exposing widespread cultural ignorance and hypocrisy.
Here’s the mentality that’s commonly held to bring about this disdain for fast food workers: we admire people who do what we can’t do, but we look down upon people who do what we won’t do. It doesn’t have anything to do with the hard work required (even if it can be done by high school drop outs, does it look like the people making your burger and fries in the back can browse the internet while on the clock?) or the feats the person rose above to get there (fleeing their home country, breaking a cycle of welfare dependency) they’re still getting what they deserve – poor pay and a spit in the face from those who refuse to live by principles of respect.
If the employees who toil over the burning grill or deep fryer or appease large and impatient crowds of patrons shouldn’t get paid more as the profits of the company grow, then just how should the market value of their labour be measured? Sure, the marketing department that lures in more customers should get its due for increased business, and those who come up with food substitute recipes that make these products deserve fair compensation as well. But these wouldn’t sell if there weren’t front line workers connecting to customers. The value of their work should be reflected in their pay.
It’s because many of us refuse to work in those conditions that we see the job as beneath us. In entertainment we are okay with people getting excessively wealthy because they do something – play sports, sing, maintain a certain body shape – better than we can. But the cleaner who can make that throne shine in the office restroom better than we can with our home shitters should get paid as little as possible for it. We would rather not work than take what’s available – because taking what’s available means compromising ourselves with our prejudices.
But some people who need a job take what’s available. They work hard at it. They keep that job because it’s what they can get. It’s grown people – full time workers, paying rent and raising children – who are largely behind this movement. It’s not about giving teenagers more disposable income…although, if the kid’s doing the work, the kid should be earning the money. That kid deserves way more than teenagers who can’t get the job they want and complain about it on Twitter.