- McJobs and Workers -

organize collectively

Posted by: Flint Jones ( IWW, USA ) on November 14, 1998 at 14:57:19:

In Reply to: in time the raises will come posted by nancy on November 12, 1998 at 12:53:26:

I think you've encapsulated the entire corporate line compactly enough. I'll do my best to answer your points.

First, you blame the worker's low pay on the theft of food by some workers. Divide and conquer? I've talked about the theft of food before:

Anyway, it was atleast once a month (or depending on the manager) whether you could take food home or not. The idea, some of the time was, "Well we have to keep X number of whatever ready to be served fast in case of a rush." So alot of food was trashed or left over at the end of the night. You took it home, gave to friends, family or anybody else in the neighboorhood that didn't mind eating something a couple of hours old.

The other half the time, the owners would put the managers feet to fire and get 'em to try and cut back on expenses (like getting rid of overtime hours, cutting back on staff, reducing waste) and they would ban employee from taking home any waste. Well, guess what, there was still plenty of waste so instead of it going to feed somebody it just went into the trash.

And some more:

So wouldn't a better solution be that employees receive free meals? If you can't police you workforce effectively, get rid of the need to police. If you want less crime, have less laws. Now, if the business were organized so that the workers were the actual owners then they could only be stealing from themselves. This thread had alot of debate earlier, I'd suggest looking down the page a bit to see it.

It would be far better for restaurant workers to be upfront about the theft of food and instead of covertly siezing it, they should get together and say, "This is ours, and we are taking it." But that'd take a union and more people need to be willing to put the effort into that, to many take the quick and dirty route. The way I see it, the workers are the one in the moral right and should start acting like it.

Then, you go on to make the claim that by engaging in such activities as stealing food, your cutting into profits (true); and that these profits could be used for raises. I would rather say its these profits that should (must?!) be used for raises. I wrote this a while ago, but its still relevant:

If we workers were smart we'd realize that every cent of profit is theft. It is unpaid wage! Managers get wage or salary, and many owners pay themselves a salary as well. But profit, profit is something else entirely. It represents all earnings beyond the cost of operation. With a union contract, you can open up the books to the workers... and see exactly how much money they make from your work.

McDonald's could well afford to pay all their employees $9/hour. Take at look at this:

I posted a detailed summary of McDonald's Finances I recieved from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. Now, its important to remember that this is the profit for the Corporation, and the only reference to franchises is in the amount the Corp collects from them. While there are certainly some stores that are in trouble, a better manner than just accepting that your store might be in trouble is to go up to the owner or management and ask them to show you the books. Have them compare your wages to theirs, compare your yearly income to their profit margin. Don't be suprised if they tell you that they can't do it... they can't... they just won't. Likewise, If your in a union... demand to see their books as well. If they don't, then you probably need a different union.

Then, you make the appeal that if you just wait long enough the raises will come. I know from personal expierence that the fast food industry will violate their own stated employment policies just to suppress wage increases. For example, while I was working at Hardee's we were supposed to have evaluations every 6 months, after which you would receive a wage increase of a varying amount dependent upon your performance. I worked there a year and never had a review. I asked about it, demanded it, went up the chain of command. The entire management staff at my restraunt changed hands and I was still asking for my evaluation. I never received it. Minimumwage bites.

Finally, you tell us to seek other employment if we aren't being paid what we want. This might work; provided there is other employment to be had. But the basics of economics means that capital will pay labor as little as it has to. If there is high unemployment your lucky to keep your job, if a demand for labor is high... wages will have to raise to attract workers.

Likewise, standards develop throughout an industry... if the local taco bell pays say $9/hour and the local Mcdonald's pays only minimum wage they had better raise the pay if they want to keep their workers. However, the case is often the reverse as several chains push wages down together... in order to increase profits.

But, people are different from just passive raw materials. We are more than just economics. We can organize collectively and demand more of what should already be ours. Why should we allow a group of parasites to have a living off of our labor? Its our work that creates wealth in the first place. Organizing labor unions that are democratically controlled by the rank and file using direct action tactics have and will continue to improve working conditions and pay... until such a time as all businesses are worker-owned cooperatives. But it'll only work if people are willing to have the dignity and self-respect to demand what is theirs; and the ability to work together towards that common goal.



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