The push to hike fast-food wages is indicative not of a brutal new economy but of a labor movement that is not only disconnected from reality but also almost completely devoid of vision. Remember in the late 1980s and early 1990s when soothsayers were bitching and moaning about “McJobs” and the perils of becoming a “nation of burger flippers”? Back then, Big Labor was convinced that the North American Free Trade Agreement would export all but the most servile tasks down Mexico way (they were way, way wrong about that, by the way). Nowadays, the SEIU and other groups seem to see flipping burgers as positively aspirational.
It needn’t be. While there is nothing wrong with any job, the simple fact is that nobody is going to get rich—or even comfortably middle class—if his or her main gig is punching the buttons at a McCafe. The skills necessary to work there are simply not that advanced to increase wages exponentially and the entire economy of fast food is based on keeping prices—and by extension, wages—relatively low.
Rather than focus on fast food, it would be smarter to focus where the jobs—and wages—are. There’s something on the order of 3.7 million openings (about the size of the entire minimum wage workforce) in various trades ranging from construction to carpentry to ++electrical to welding.