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OPINION - Fast Food Customers of Wisconsin

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  Today I’m proposing FFCOWI. That’s Fast Food Customers of Wisconsin. (I suppose you’d pronounce it “F-cow-eee”). I nominate myself as president, considering that I have a great deal of experience eating fast food. One look at me and you'd be convinced of my qualifications.

The customers need to have a voice in the $15-an-hour debate in the fast food industry. Members of FFCOWI acknowledge that we eat too much junk food. Many of us regularly make selections from the value menu. We are the ones who’d pay more if the labor costs of fast food restaurants go through the roof.

So we, the members of FFCOWI, have a decision to make. Do we support a living wage for burger-flippers? Or do we put a higher value on an inexpensive lunch?

Members of FFCOWI already know about the generally poor service provided by the workers who are now demanding a big raise. We know about drive-thrus that forget our fries. We’ve seen how slow some of these workers are. We see how they struggle to operate their cash registers and make change. In an internal report earlier this year, McDonald’s corporate management conceded to shareholders that “the service element is broken.”

I eat fast food about three times a week. At $8 a meal, I’m worth at least $1,200 a year to the industry. It makes me a prime customer – a power player in the world of fast food. My position is this: if a restaurant allows its workers to walk off the job and doesn’t fire them, I won’t eat there anymore. It’s disrespectful to me, as a customer, to hire people who don’t want to do the job offered and the wage provided. FFCOWI’s message to management is to get rid of the dead weight and hire motivated employees who are ready to do the job. Here’s a clue: a high school-er who wants to earn spending money or put some bucks away for college is more likely to be more motivated than a 30- or 40-year old who only has the skill set to work in the fast food industry.

How many of the workers who want $15 would dare to take a job where their pay depends on the quality of the service they provide? Suppose they work at a diner instead… where they’d be paid $2.33 an hour, but would get to keep their tips. They’d come out ahead, but only if they offered exceptional service. If they were slow, lazy, inaccurate and apathetic, they’d literally be working for nothing. If they're good at what they do, they’d earn much more than what McDonalds pays. Any takers? I didn’t think so.

Chris Conley

Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters. Striking McDonald’s worker protests outside McDonald’s as part of a nationwide strike by fast-food workers to call for wages of $15 an hour, August 29, 2013. wsau.com.