Thursday, April 25, 2013


In a good article, Salon reports on the growing strike movement amongst low-wage fast food employees. A slice:
The strike wave’s spread to Chicago offers a hopeful sign for the New York City fast food campaign. While individual fast food stores are managed by franchisees, national CEOs are the real decision-makers in both fast food and retail. Given the financial cost and, more important, the risk of setting a precedent and emboldening a wider workforce, it’s hard to imagine executives for McDonald’s or Macy’s making any significant concessions to workers in any city unless faced with a bona fide national uprising. For that to happen, the strikes would have to go viral, big-time.

That's a nice idea, and I tip my hat to the fast food workers for at least trying. But it seems unlikely to work. McDonald's values cheapness at every level of its trade: farms, processing, food, preparation, service. A business that uses that approach will invariably feel the same way about its employees. There's no "McDonald's" without "cheap," ditto every other fast food restaurant. The two concepts are almost interchangeable.

If fast food were to fundamentally change its values from that of cheapness to that of worth, then it wouldn't be fast food anymore. So the strikers aren't just agitating for unions and higher wages; they're agitating to change the entire business model of some of the most powerful corporations on the planet. It's a tall order. My doubts are respectful but nonetheless real.

I'd be happy to see no McDonald's whatsoever rather than a "better" McDonald's. That, too, is a tall order; but then again, all we have to do is stop eating and working at these places. And then they'll be gone.

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