- McJobs and Workers -

No, just a reasonable voice.

Posted by: Flint Jones ( IWW, USA ) on September 02, 1998 at 10:20:02:

In Reply to: The voice of reason ! posted by Trolley Dolly on September 02, 1998 at 00:30:25:

Hello again TD,
I'll hope you'll forgive my confusion with your gender. I'm just now getting used to your singular instead of plural identity. I wonder out of idle curiosity whether you've noticed if people treat you differently when you are ambigously gendered. The net is a little odd tool for gender, remind me to tell you about anarcha-feminism sometime.

To the issue of theft at work... well, it shouldn't have to be that way. Some people undoubtly steal for the thrill of it, others do so as of casual neccessity. Some steal because they are greedy. Personally, it seems that the greedy ones that I focus most of my attention. Are you familar with the concepts of profit and surplus value?

Profit is the difference between the capital (including the payment to labor, in other words wage) and the income gained through providing a good or service. Earlier, I posted some financial information of McDonald's and it broke down all the capital costs, taxes, income and profit for last year. Here is a very rouch example of what I'm talking about:

Say you sell a $4 meal.
$1.40 is the cost of the Food and Packaging

$1.00 is payroll (Now this is including everyone, cook, cashier, crew trainer, manager, district manager, advertiser, CEO. But lets just assume everyone deserves what they are getting paid)

$0.90 goes to operating expenses (Occupancy, cleaning, equipment)

$0.70 Profit.

McDonald's also rakes in about 25% of its income in franchise licenses.
Thats in addition to corporate stores... rounding it off to about
$1.00 profit on every $4.00 meal.

Now I regard that $1 as theft. They didn't do anything for it, they simply owned the company. That dollar is supposedly a reward for their investment. I disagree with this for many reasons. Its a long and involved discussion that I've had many times. I'd reccomend you this section of An Anarchist FAQ What are the Myths of Capitalist Economics. But its really much simpler than that, the rich are parasites. Their money comes from three places: inheritance, seziure of the commons, and exploitation of workers. It would atleast be somewhat excusable if things gradually equalized over time, but quite the opposite happens; the rich get richer and the poor get poor.

Sure its only a dollar out of every happy meal, but whose dollar is it anyway? Think about how many meals you have a part in making every day, or every week, or every month... or every year. It begins to add up. Now the shareholders of Mcdonald's got you all working for them, churning out that extra dollar.

Well, if you don't like it... you can just work someplace else that pays you more!

But lets be honest here. In the US, for example... Fast Food Industry is the bottom wrung of the economic pyramid; only somewhere above workfare and prison labor. It only needs unskilled workers who in many cases have their wages raised only because the Federal Government has raised the minimum wage because they worry that if people get to poor they'll get very mad and bad things will happen.
Its very easy to fire a McWorker, and they are practically interchangable as far as the company is concerned. Unemployment keeps everyone from asking for anymore. As the Welfare-State continues to dissolve its social safety net, there is going to be more pressure on low pay jobs to have even lower pay. Ditto with increasing deunionization and changing immigration laws.

Keeping workers competing against each other (even unions competing against unions as labor pimps!) is an old Capitalist gain. It doesn't change the fact that if they didn't own most of the wealth (factories, property, gold, food, what-have-you)... we'd be working for ourselves instead of them. And they back that up with the force of their property laws and ultimately physical violence and death.

Now if you buy into the idea that the $1 the shareholders took from that $4 meal is yours, how are you going to get it back? Through the courts? No, they are the ones that insure the shareholders get that dollar. You can either take it as a lonely individual, always fearful that the courts are going to make you hand over whats yours... or you can organize collectively with your fellow workers and say, "This is ours. We are taking it back now!" Though usually all people are struggling for with unions is "We aren't letting you steal from us anymore." and they do that by striking (simply refusing to work, until the boss stops stealing), or a variety of other tactics that slow production. This usually hurts the worker alot more than the shareholder. After all, the McWorker is loosing $1 for every $1 that the shareholder is loosing for not making any sales... and I bet your dollar means a hell of alot more to you than that dollar means to someone who is already rich! So its a struggle then between your fairer share, and the shareholder's greed.

I think unions are the way to go, but if people are in a position where they can't do that (like say they are fighting the Shell corporation in Nigeria) I'm not going to look down at them with a sneer and show how much better I am than them. It'd be one thing if your fellow workers were stealing the ovens late at night and selling them off to Burger King, but they are stealing food... to eat! The Ford company used to pay all the workers enough that they could afford a Ford car... that is no longer the case. Does McDonald's not make enough money that they can't afford to feed their workers?

The arguement that says that decision is up to the franchise owner, or store manager is just injury to insult and shows really how powerless individual workers are to make any decisions regarding their workplace. Its subjecting oneself to that kind of arbitrary authority in the name of greed which I'm opposed. I only despise market economics to the extent that they force people to do what they otherwise wouldn't... whether thats work despite dangerous working conditions, work to long for too little money, or simply hold their tongue about sexual harrassment for fearing to loose their job. I look to solutions outside government, because government is usually as much of a problem as capitalists. A boss is a boss is a boss. Workers weren't getting much better treatment under the Soviet Union. You've got to have Liberty and Equality, as trite as the phrase might be.

Anyway,read more about it.



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