Unfair Knocks to an Industry - The Missourian: Editorials

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Unfair Knocks to an Industry

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Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 6:32 pm

Too often we hear negative comments indicating that the lowest form of work is flipping hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant. Some of the workers at these important places of employment are protesting in some large cities that they deserve double to what they are paid. They are out of touch with basic economics.

If they were paid double what they now make there would be serious consequences. Food and drink prices would have to be raised considerably, business would fall off, work staffs would have to be cut, along with hours, and there would be more damage to the general economy. Many seniors eat at fast-food places simply because it is more economical than trying to prepare meals for one or two people. Most are on fixed incomes. To price them out of the fast food market would be tragic.

Phil Hickey, chairman of the National Restaurant Association, had a commentary on restaurants in general in The Wall Street Journal. He made a lot of sense. He wrote that the first job held by nearly one in three Americans is in the restaurant industry. “In addition to teaching personal responsibility, teamwork, discipline and accountability, these positions provide workers with opportunities for successful careers. Many of them — like me — advance from their entry-level, minimum-wage positions. Nine out of 10 salaried restaurant employees start off in hourly positions,” Hickey explained. He owns nine restaurants.

There are 13 million workers in the restaurant industry. Many restaurant owners began at the bottom of the employment pole. Obtaining a strong work ethic with a minimum-wage job, they worked their way up. An example is Mike and Debbie Klak who just opened a new McDonald’s restaurant in Washington. It’s a state-of-the-art fast-food restaurant that replaced their older facility here. They own a string of McDonald’s. The company provided them the opportunity. They took advantage of it and through hard work achieved much success. There are many stories like theirs in the restaurant industry.

Hickey provided this information:

Only 5 percent of the 10 million restaurant employees earn the minimum wage. Those who are paid the minimum wage are chiefly teenagers working part-time at their first jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71 percent of the minimum-wage workers in the restaurant industry are under the age of 25; 47 percent are teenagers. The majority of workers paid the minimum wage work outside the restaurant industry, which has a solid record of employment growth. For 13 straight years, employment growth in the restaurant industry has outperformed overall U.S. employment growth.

But it’s the restaurant industry that takes most of the knocks from critics of wages.

In the higher class restaurants, waiters and waitresses receive tips and earn nice incomes. They enjoy their work and make careers out of it. There are workers in the fast-food industry who also like their jobs.

Workers in the restaurant industry learn a valuable lesson: How to deal with the public. We all know there are people in our midst who are difficult to deal with, whether in restaurant or newspaper work. You can’t please everybody, but you can try. The majority of restaurant workers try to do their best to please their customers. Those with the sound training and pleasing personalities do best.

There’s a lot more to praise about the restaurant industry than there is to criticize!

/opinion/editorials