CBS News reports today dozens of people protesting for a hike in the minimum wage were arrested at a McDonald’s in Detroit.
The protesters, part of the “Fight for $15” campaign organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and others, engaged in civil disobedience by blocking traffic. They were encouraged by Obama, who is, according to The Washington Post, “in Fight for $15′s corner.”
“All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity,” the president said on Labor Day. Obama said if he “wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.”
SEIU and other labor unions make up a large percentage of Obama’s political base and weigh heavily on gubernatorial contests in Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan.
The Fight for $15 movement began in Chicago and is targeting fast food restaurants in over 100 cities across the country.
Fast food businesses argue that if the government more than doubles the minimum wage, it will result in massive job losses.
“There would be very large unemployment effects from such a raise meaning that many people would simply lose their jobs,” argue Tom Worstall for Forbes.
The restaurant industry is a low profit venture despite the record profits of parent corporations like McDonald’s, which owns only 11% of its restaurants. Capital IQ reports the average profit margin for fast food franchises is just 2.4%, down from 3.2% in 2009. Other restaurants, like Ruby Tuesday and Boston Market, lost money over the last year.
“And if you haven’t driven past a Bennigan’s or TCBY lately, that’s because the restaurant business is notoriously difficult, with chains and individual stores failing all the time,” writes Rick Newman.
The failure and, ultimately, unemployment is enforced by the federal government.
“In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period,” writes Murray Rothbard. “The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour. This means, plainly and simply, that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law provides no jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.”