November 28, 2013
For Shawndraka Mack, a 100% pay rise from her current $7.60 “would do just fine.” While some employees turn to blood plasma donation, and most are on food stamps (and other benefits), the mother of two teenagers (on Medicaid) told Bloomberg Businessweek, “I love what I do, but I don’t want to work for nothing.” Between the 40 hours a week she works and the benefits, Mack explains, “I work at McDonald’s and I can’t afford to eat there. It’s crazy.” Of course, McDonalds has ‘tips’ for surviving on their state-subsidized wages but once again, despite Harry Reid’s extrapolated charts, the reality of raising the minimum wage is lost on most who never stop to think of where the ‘money’ comes from; and besides employees have little to no leverage as we explained here.
Mack, who is 40, has been working in the fast food business for 18 years. For the past six, she’s been at a McDonald’s in South Carolina, working 40 hours a week and making $7.60 an hour. “I love what I do, but I don’t want to work for nothing. I want to work for something,” she says.
Her fiancé is on disability, and the $600 he receives every month goes toward insurance for her 1990 Honda Accord, the phone bill, and some spending money for the kids. Her salary covers gas for her commute, electricity, and everything else the family needs. The kids are on Medicaid.
The family gets $345 a month in food stamps. Mack says she goes to the grocery store once a month, and whatever she buys has to last until the next trip. She brings her lunch to work every day. “I work at McDonald’s and I can’t afford to eat there. It’s crazy.”
A few weeks ago, Mack joined the effort to raise fast-food workers’ wages to at least $15 an hour. “That would do me just fine,” she says. “I expect to stay at McDonald’s. I just want to get paid more for what I know and what I do. I want to make sure my kids have a better life than I do.”
The harsh reality bottom line is if she wants to be able to afford McDonalds or anything else, she should motivate herself to be something more than a minimum wage food service worker. Because the sad reality for her and millions of other minimum wage, zero leverage workers like her is that the robots are finally coming, and they don’t demand food… or a wage.