Fast food workers across the country have taken to the streets this week protesting for higher wages. Protests started in New York City and took off in major cities across the country with workers demanding a living wage of $15 per hour as opposed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

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Photo by Cathy Sherwin via flickr

In the wake of news about McDonald’s sample budget for their employees, the Huffington Post found that McDonald’s spends only 17.1% of its proceeds on worker salaries and benefits. If worker salaries were doubled, price would be raised 17 cents for every dollar. The McDonald’s staple, the Big Mac, would cost $4.67 instead of $3.99. That number also includes doubling CEO Donald Thompson’s salary of almost $9 million a year. If Thompson’s salary remains unchanged, the price would only increase about 25 cents.

At a speech last week in Galesburg, Illinois, President Obama renewed his promise to improve the minimum wage. During this year’s State of the Union, Obama called for a $9 an hour minimum wage, far lower than the $15 protesters are looking for now.

Opponents say that increasing wages will force McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants to raise prices so much that fewer people will be buy Big Macs or, worse, that human employees will begin to be replaced by machines.

“Increasing the minimum wage is good for business. It puts more money in consumers’ pockets,” said Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC. “So what will really happen to McDonald’s the next time the minimum wage goes up? The same thing that has happened to McDonald’s every time the minimum wage has gone up: McDonald’s will make more money.”

This is not the first time fast food workers have gone on strike this year over wages. In May, an estimated 400 workers at 60 different restaurants in Detroit walked off their jobs to join protests calling for a livable wage and the right to unionize following protests in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York.

Media Resources: MSNBC 7/31/2013; Forbes 7/30/2013; Guardian 7/29/2013; Huffington Post 7/29/2013; Politico 7/24/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/13/2013, 2/13/2013

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