Fast-Food Workers Back on the Job
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After an unprecedented worker strike yesterday, workers returned to work with local support
After workers at dozens of New York City fast-food joints walked out of their jobs yesterday to bring attention to their minimum wage pay and inability to form a union, workers returned to the jobs starting at 6 a.m. this morning.
"There were dozens of clergy and leaders who walked the workers back to work this morning," a representative told us. "So far most of them have gone smoothly."
By law, the restaurants had to take the workers back after the strike; a Wendy's in Brooklyn fired a worker earlier this morning, but after community support and protest, the worker is back on the job.
The protestors are fighting for $15 an hour instead of the current minimum wage of $7.25. Workers at McDonald's, Burger King, Papa John's, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy's, and Domino's participated. The movement, called Fast Food Forward, hopes parties supporting them will sign a petition to raise wages and gain rights, such as the right to form a union.
Most Teen Worker Injuries in Restaurants Occur in Fast Food, NIOSH Study Finds
Adolescent workers injured on the job in the restaurant industry are most likely to be working in fast food establishments, a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found.
Studying data from a national sample of hospitals over a two-year period, NIOSH estimated that approximately 44,800 occupational injuries to teen restaurant industry workers (age 14 to 17) were treated in hospital emergency departments across the U.S. during that time. Of these injuries, an estimated 28,000 or 63 percent occurred in hamburger, pizza, and other fast food establishments.
Adolescents working in the restaurant industry in general were at six times greater risk of sustaining a work-related burn injury than teens working in any other industry, the study found. Overall, during the period studied, emergency departments treated an estimated 108,000 work related injuries to teens in all industries.
&ldquoAs young people prepare to take temporary employment or work extra hours over the winter holidays, it is important to be aware that adolescents are injured on the job far too often,&rdquo said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. &ldquoAll of us have key roles in preventing these injuries, now and throughout the year.&rdquo
In general, the restaurant industry and other retail businesses rank high among U.S. industries for risk of adolescent worker injuries. The retail trades employ many of the nation�s working adolescents.
Because statistics are not available on the number of adolescents working specifically in the fast food industry, researchers lack key data for determining if these teens are at higher risk proportionally than their counterparts in other segments of the restaurant industry. Even in the absence of those measures, the findings from the new study show a need for better training and other steps to protect young workers, NIOSH said.
The study, &ldquoAdolescent Occupational Injuries in Fast Food Restaurants: An Examination of the Problem from a National Perspective,&rdquo was published in the December 1999 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The NIOSH study also found that for teens working in fast food establishments:
- Although males and females had similar injury rates, risks for injury by task and location differed by gender. Adolescent male employees were more likely to suffer burns, lacerations, and other injuries while performing tasks associated with cooking, while adolescent female employees were more likely to suffer contusions, strains, sprains, and other injuries while completing tasks related to cashiering and servicing tables.
- Nearly half of all burn injuries involved hot grease. Such injuries can be prevented by providing handles on scrapers and other cleaning tools, providing appropriate gloves, allowing grease to cool before it is moved, and training employees in safe work practices, among other precautions, NIOSH suggested.
- More than half of all fall injuries were related to wet or greasy floors. It is important to use slip-resistant floor materials and to keep floors dry and well maintained, NIOSH said.
- By age, 17-year-olds suffered the highest proportion of injuries among teens working in fast food (55 percent), followed by 16-year-olds (38 percent).
- The majority of injuries to teen workers in fast food restaurants occurred in hamburger restaurants (52.6 percent), followed by pizza restaurants (12.6 percent) and chicken/fish restaurants (11.7 percent).
NIOSH works closely with diverse partners in industry, education, public health, communities, and other sectors to prevent adolescent worker injuries. For example, NIOSH recently issued &ldquoPromoting Safe Work for Young Workers,&rdquo DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-141, a guide for working with community partners to prevent adolescent worker injuries and illnesses. The publication is based on results from three NIOSH-funded community-based projects.
For further information about adolescent worker safety and health, contact the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).
9 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Fast Food Employee
As a teenager I worked my fair share of fast food jobs and had brief stints at some of your faves like Sonic, Starbucks, and Chipotle. As anyone who has ever worked in fast food will tell you, it's a trip. While I am aware that sometimes the people who work in fast food aren't super pleasant, there are a lot of us who really just want to stick to the "customer is always right" mantra and make our shifts as painless as possible. Going off this general desire for a drama free fast food experience, here's a list of things you shouldn't say to fast food workers.
1."I thought this was supposed to be fast food."
You're right, fast food is supposed to be fast but even fast food needs to be cooked and that obviously takes time. Some people expect to place their order and have their meal hot and ready 30 seconds later, and that's just not how physics works. Unfortunately, fast food tech hasn't yet come out with a way to literally have your food ready on demand, so until then try to be a little patient.
2."I don't know why fast food workers complain, all they do is flip burgers all day."
While working in fast food isn't exactly rocket science a job by any name is still a job which means, it sucks (that's why they pay for people to do it). Sure, I may just be scooping fries into a container or typing an order into a machine, but I also have to work in a hot cramped kitchen, stand for multiple hours, and put up with some crazy rude people. Oh, and let's not forget the next-to-nothing salary that I do it all for.
3."Am I supposed to tip you?"
This question is tricky. Sometimes people ask because they are genuinely unsure if tipping is practiced at a particular fast food joint (such as a drive in) and sometimes its because people get kicks out of implying that they're doing you a favor by tipping. Regardless of the intention, asking someone if they're supposed to be tipped puts them in a mega awkward position because no one likes to actually ask for money. If you get good service and you feel it warrants a tip, go for it, a server will let you know if they aren't actually allowed to receive it.
4."Maybe if you paid attention, you would get my order right."
Here's the thing, my job largely depends on your satisfaction which means since I really really want to save up money for X,Y,Z reason, I am paying attention. A lot of the time orders go wrong because of technical difficulties. You know those drive through speakers that you yell (or whisper) your order into? They suck. You know that glass screen that stands between you and your burrito? It's astonishingly sound absorbent. Sometimes there's human error involved too, but it's definitely not out of ill will. It's pretty hard to hear someone's order over all the beeps and whirs of a kitchen. It's also nearly impossible to get an order right if you're speaking too softly, too fast, or into your phone, so please, bear with your server.
5."Um, I wanted. "/ "This isn't what I ordered"
A lot of the fast food places I've worked at have trained me to always read an order back to a customer to avoid the whole "this isn't what I ordered" dilemma and I have always obliged in an effort to cover my butt. But here's the thing, that doesn't really work if you're not paying attention when I read back your order. I understand that as the person taking your order I have to listen and get you what you want, but as the person ordering it's also kind of important that you make sure you're actually paying attention to what you say. If I read back a #2 with ketchup and mayo and you're too busy snapchatting your friends to tell me you actually don't want mayo, don't get mad when you get a #2 with ketchup and mayo.
6."Well when I came here before the portions were way bigger."
I'm sorry, as a worker I have no control over how big or small your portions are. Portions change according to the whims of the high ups in fast food companies, and I'm just the person that implements them. I'm generous, so I try to serve food a little more on the big side, but my generosity is also limited by the fact that I want to keep my job.
7."I pay a different price at my local BLANK, why is it more here?"
Again, I don't control prices. People seem to forget that markets are different everywhere, so what costs you $2 in Boise, Idaho is probably gonna be $4 in New York. Trust me, I wasn't happy when I went from paying $7 for a burrito in Texas to $10 in the Big Apple but it is what it is, and I'm not gonna take it out on the person rolling my food.
8."It's your fault you don't have a better job."
I generally look a little older than my actual age so when I worked in fast food people assumed I was in my mid 20s rather than my teens. The truth is, when I worked in fast food I was between the ages of 16 and 19. So yeah, I didn't have a better job because 1. I was in high school, 2. I wasn't qualified for any other job, 3. It was the type of work that fit my schedule. So it's always good to keep in mind that there are a lot of of different (and often valid) reasons why someone is making your burrito rather than working a 9-5.
9."I'm sorry let me simplify that for you" or "was that too complicated?" Or any sort of thing that would imply the person serving you is stupid.
There is literally nothing worse than when a customer assumes you're stupid just because you work in fast food. I once had a customer tell me their order in binary code and when I said I didn't speak binary she replied with the snarkiest "yeah I didn't think you would be able to understand it." Excuse me? Not to brag, but I'm a pretty smart person, I graduated high school with every honor possible, I got accepted to great colleges (with full rides, mind you), and now I have a sweet job, so the fact that I worked in fast food is in no way a reflection of my intelligence. Just because someone is bagging your lunch don't assume they aren't actually incredibly smart or talented, even Madonna was once ringing people up at Dunkin'.
Food Is No Longer Your Fallback Job. It Never Should Have Been in the First Place.
I graduated from college in the spring of 2008. If you’ll recall, that fall wasn’t a great time to enter the job market, and the advice I got from anyone who had an opinion (which was everyone) was to “go wait tables.” It was a catchall phrase for the kind of work that was assumed to be available whenever the chips were down — the guidance given to every high schooler looking for extra money, every college grad who doesn’t have a job lined up, every aspiring actor in LA. And even at that time, when the unemployment rate was somewhere around 10 percent, it was available: I got a job as a hostess and server at a local restaurant, but I also had an offer from Starbucks, and an invitation to return to work at a bakery I’d worked at the previous summer.
Once again, we’re facing a recession, or, according to some experts, a full-on depression. Unemployment websites crashed as millions have applied for benefits in the past weeks, and food banks can’t keep up with demand — one-third of those going to them for food have never needed aid before. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed basically every fault line in our society, from the inadequacy of the social safety net to the incompetence of many of our leaders. And it is now revealing some long-held assumptions about work in the food-service industry. Being a server, a bartender, or a dishwasher, or doing other restaurant work, is often spoken of as a job that is always — and implicitly, only — viable when there are no other options. That if anyone had a real choice, they would choose something else. But because restaurants and bars aren’t hiring, food is no longer the fallback job. It never should have been thought of in that way in the first place.
The restaurant industry has long been the province of outcasts, but over the last two decades, owning a restaurant, becoming a celebrity(ish) chef, and, to a certain extent, being a fancy mixologist have come to be considered actual careers. These are the kinds of jobs that can land you a steady paycheck and the status of “small-business owner,” or even book deals and TV appearances. But when you’re not the owner or the creative force behind the food, food service — from hustling shifts as a server to manning the cash register at McDonald’s — is still generally talked about as a temporary detour, a place to lay low while you get your shit together. In pop culture, it’s an after-school job for teens, even though only about 30 percent of fast-food workers are teenagers. The mainstream image is still a job you leave, not one you keep.
“It’s an industry many fall back on time and time again,” writes Frances Bridges for Forbes. In 2011, Brokelyn told recent college grads that they likely “will consider waiting tables as a fallback to your day-job dreams,” the assumption being that everyone dreams of a day job. In 2016, Forbes called being a host or bartender one of the best jobs to have “while you are figuring out what to do with your life,” as it provides both a steady paycheck and, due to high turnover, restaurants and bars are “almost always hiring.” The assumption by economists and career experts was that no matter what, people need to eat, and they would want to eat out — so restaurant work would always be around.
Now, for the first time, it’s not. Nearly every state has issued orders for restaurants to close dine-in options or severely reduce capacity, forcing restaurants to lay off or furlough workers — or shutter entirely. About 10 million people filed for unemployment in the past few weeks, a number that’s expected to keep rising by the millions. And that number doesn’t account for gig-economy workers — like Instacart couriers or Uber Eats drivers — who, as contractors, wouldn’t qualify for UI. The food-service industry was hit particularly hard. According to the Department of Labor, restaurant and bar jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost in March. It’s clear that serving food and making drinks is not the revolving door it has been made out to be.
Jennifer Cathey, a former line cook at Glory World Gyro in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says the restaurant has tried to stay open for takeout and delivery services, but there’s almost no business, and she was often “alone in a kitchen for hours at a time.” After a week, she volunteered to be laid off, as she lives with her mother and doesn’t need the money for rent. “If work was going to be so slow, it didn’t feel right to take any of the meager hours given to employees for any of my other coworkers,” she told Eater.
Cathey, who started working in her mother’s restaurant as a teenager, says she wanted to sacrifice her shifts for her coworkers because the food industry has always felt like home for her. “It is my favorite kind of work, I’ve loved all the places I’ve worked,” she says. Mostly it’s because she gets the immediate gratification of making something for someone else to consume and enjoy. But it’s also because, as a trans woman, the restaurant industry is a place she can rely on to be welcoming. “Especially living here in Alabama, all the people I’ve met through the restaurant and bar industries have been the most accepting of anyone,” she says. “I might not get anyone from my hometown to call me by my name, but the food-service community is tight-knit and open and welcome to all sorts of people. I have that fear that other industries wouldn’t be as welcoming.”
Unfortunately, it is also because food service has been a space for those who don’t fit into other parts of society that it has been considered a job for those who just need a job. Food service doesn’t require a college degree (or even a high school diploma), and it’s traditionally more welcoming to those with criminal backgrounds, to immigrants, to queer people, and to those with little other work experience. In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain referred to line cooks as a “dysfunctional, mercenary lot” and “fringe dwellers.” Not the most generous reading, but one that speaks to the reality: that in most people’s opinion, any office job is preferable to a career in the restaurant industry.
Which is not to say it’s not worthy work. If this pandemic has proven anything, it’s how essential those working in the food industry are. Instead, these assumptions come from a cycle of low pay and bad benefits that devalue both the job itself and the people doing it. “It’s set up to be temporary,” says Lauren* (who asked to remain anonymous), who was recently laid off from her bartending job at Dock Street Brewery in Philadelphia. “There are minimal benefits, pay increases, or opportunities for moving up in a company. And then this happens, and it makes it even more apparent how the industry is set up to be temporary, even though the people working in it don’t see it that way.”
A “reasonable” person, says the strawman I’ve invented but also probably plenty of people you’ve actually met, wouldn’t choose to make a career out of a job that relies on tips, that doesn’t provide health insurance, and where one risks such injury. Thus, the people who choose this career must not be “reasonable,” and if that’s true, then why support such unreasonable people? And on and on.
If it were true that food service is only a paycheck for those who are waiting for their “real” career to appear, then presumably no one would care one way or another about the job itself. But multiple people I talked to spoke of the restaurant industry — waiting tables, working the line, making lattes — as their dream job. “I literally emailed Pizzana for two years until they gave me a shot,” says Will Weissman, who was recently laid off from the West Hollywood pizza restaurant. He loved the restaurant’s food from the first time he tasted it, and hoped when they opened a second location, they’d take a chance on him, even though he had no previous experience. “I had always been food obsessed. I know a lot about wine, I’m a good cook, and I just wanted to finally do something in the food industry.”
Samantha Ortiz, a chef at Kingsbridge Social Club in the Bronx, says she was instantly drawn to the hospitality industry when she started work as a barista. “I felt so fulfilled to be able to make something for someone, even if it was as simple as a latte,” she says. Now, her restaurant is closed and her unemployment will run out in 90 days, but she has no plans to switch industries. “I doubt that I would ever look for a job in a different field,” she says. “The kitchen is home.”
When my serving job ended (the restaurant shut down), I was slightly relieved. I was a terrible server, and I knew I had other options. But many of my coworkers expressed deeper laments. They liked the strong arms they got from carrying trays of food, and they enjoyed recommending a dish and hearing their customer loved it. They liked that each night was different and experimenting with making new drinks. Hearing from them, I understood that the restaurant’s closure was a loss.
It’s not quite true that there are no food-service jobs available right now. Instead of the serving jobs that college grads are urged to consider, there’s a new form of food work that’s thriving during this recession: the gig worker. Grocery stores and apps like Instacart are hiring deliverers and baggers by the thousands. It’s mostly temporary work, and puts workers at higher risk for contagion, but it’s there. In a vacuum, there’s a lot to love about a job as a gig-economy deliverer. Setting one’s own schedule, picking up shifts when it’s convenient, providing a necessary service to people who can’t travel or carry their own groceries — that’s a good job. What’s not good is the pay, the exploitation, the hundred ways these corporations leech off their workers and make it impossible to make a living wage. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
We as a society have set these jobs up to be temporary, so when someone wants to make their job permanent, we think it is a failure on their part, rather than a failure on ours. There is no such thing as a “bad” job, only bad conditions. Food-service work doesn’t have to be low paid. It doesn’t have to rely on tips, or come without health care or paid sick leave. In the face of the pandemic, we’re seeing how that is the case, as grocery stores and delivery services are pressured into providing better benefits and pay to these essential workers. But it’s time we stop considering these jobs, any jobs, as backup, and time to start providing dignity to all workers.
“It’s hard seeing people that I really care about, that I work with, be treated as disposable,” says Lauren. “I definitely go back and forth every day being like, ‘Is this even worth it, or am I just pouring all of my energy into continuing to be treated really poorly?’ I don’t know.”
The job no one really wants
Experts who have studied the restaurant business for decades and work with national chains are divided over the extent to which fast-food jobs can be made better. Some do not believe there is no formula combining pay, benefits, training and culture that can save the human worker in this sector.
Abraham Pizam, chair in tourism management and the founding dean of Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, says his position is not popular among academic peers, but he is convinced the fast-food industry is on a path to be the first to fully automate.
Low wages, lack of career paths and an overwhelming belief among the working public that fast-food jobs should only ever be temporary all contribute to the worsening turnover issues. "You talk to an employee here in the U.S. and it is nothing to be proud of," he said. "It's a job until I graduate or until I'm back on my feet," he said. "No one who thinks of a job as temporary is motivated."
There are no other job segments in the U.S. that have higher turnover than the fast-food and fast-casual segments of the restaurant industry, according to DiPietro at the University of South Carolina's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. "Not even retail."
She said that's due to the reputation of the restaurant industry. Many people consider these lower jobs than retail due to hours, job responsibilities and uniforms that typically have to be worn. "Even though the pay may be equal, the perception of restaurants is lower than in retail."
It's a devil's bargain for the companies to accept the status quo in turnover, Pizam said, with lower wages justified by their limited ability to pass along price increases to consumers, but in turn, restaurant operators paying the price through the expense of training and retraining of personnel multiple times a year.
"Sooner or later these jobs will disappear. There is no reason a robot can't serve," Pizam said. "In the future, whether 20, 30 or 50 years, only the very top of the restaurant industry will have human beings. Prepared or not, we will see it."
Pizam is not making a short-term bet on full automation. Public acceptance of a humanless food-service experience will take time, as will the redesign of an entire industry so that minimal human contact is a cost-saver — the initial capital expenditures to overhaul operations, not even including the costs of the robots, will be large.
"The counterargument made is that people like to be served by people and there is no substitute to that. You can't flatter a robot. But for the fast-food industry, there is no human contact that is personal at this point, anyway."
"CEOs of these companies understand where we are going. The ultimate solution is robotics. In the long-run it's menial work and they will admit they can't satisfy employees and it costs too much in terms of the turnover cycle. Once trained, a robot, if done right — that is years of high productivity. But if they admit that, then it is like saying we failed and no one wants to say that."
"I don't think training can be a game-changer," Boesch of 7Shifts said. "The bigger determining factor for someone to stay with you is if they see a future there."
Boesch said the big food chains are overly confident: They think they are better at training than they actually are, and as a result, they recruit and hire the wrong people. Citing Jim Sullivan, a well-known restaurant consultant, Boesch said hiring is 90% of the equation and training only 10%. "There is no way to develop the wrong person."
For the customer-facing positions that are most at risk, Boesch said the best chance of retaining staff is by doing more than just offering competitive wages and hiring people who have personalities that are conducive to service. These personality types want to be engaged and work as part of teams, and they want shift hours that suit their lives outside of work. "The No. 1 thing is interest in the people. . Pay is important, but would you go across the street to get 50 cents more if it's a toxic culture?"
"I think it is going to happen for quick service first for sure, full automation," Boesch said. "To me it is not a matter of if, it is when. These QSRs [quick-service restaurants] are almost going to become like 7-Eleven, a giant vending machine. I don't know when, but for QSR I feel like it is not astronomically far, but it is not close, either," he said, with the biggest uncertainty not being the pace of innovation but whether automated systems can meet food safety and regulation requirements. "With the introduction of more ordering kiosks, it feels like the writing is on the wall a little bit," Boesch said.
Should You Tip at Fast-Casual Restaurants?
When I lived in New York, I worked at a pie shop on the weekends while in school. I was paid hourly, and had a little jar sitting right in front of the register to collect tips if customers were feeling generous. Some people frequented the shop often and spent hours there pounding away on their laptops, while others came in just every so often for an after-dinner treat. And while, I never necessarily expected a tip from either the regulars or the occasional visitors, it was always nice to walk away with extra cash in my pocket from the jar. I found that I was usually tipped by pie eaters that spent significant amounts of time lounging/working in the shop, and from guests that invited friends to hang out and enjoy a slice of blueberry or salty lime pie. As the setup of this pie shop was very similar to a coffee shop, or even a fast-casual eatery, where the “rules” for tipping tend to be a bit more fluid… I always wondered what the mindsets were for those who tipped versus those who did not. All of which is to say, when it comes to your favorite coffee shop or fast-casual restaurant that you hit a few times within any given week, the parameters for tipping, understandably, become grey.
The discussion of tipping is a sensitive one, both for the tipper and the person receiving the tip, especially in the growing space of fast-casual dining. As customers, we take a few things into consideration before giving a little extra, such as the quality of the food, quality of service, price of the meal, the personal relationship to the staff (if applicable), and frequency visiting the establishment. Other variables include the fact that at a fast-casual restaurant, you’re not receiving table service. And at a coffee shop, you can reason that pouring a cup of coffee of doesn’t exactly take the same level of effort as making an espresso drink—so, if you order a low-maintenance beverage, do you tip? What exactly are you tipping for?
My short answer is: The barista is still providing a service, and that service (handing you a cup of hot, fresh coffee that you didn’t have to brew yourself) is what you’re tipping on, simply out of courtesy. If you go to your local coffeeshop every day for a $3 cup of coffee, most would agree it’s not necessary to tip every time you purchase that cup of coffee. However, tipping every few cups, as a gesture of gratitude for keeping you well caffeinated, is a good practice to adopt. (I mean hey, take into account the fact that you can *afford* a $3 coffee on a regular basis, which isn’t a luxury everyone has—producing an extra dollar for the tip jar isn’t going to hurt you.) And at many fast-casual spots, your tip isn’t going directly to the person who rang up your lunch it will be divided among the staff… so you’re not necessarily tipping an individual for their service as much as you are tipping the entire team, simply for providing you the luxury of convenience.
Etiquette aside, there are major benefits and incentives to tipping, especially at places you go to often. Tipping is karmic goodness. You become a friendly face and staff members are more apt to go the extra mile for you. Many of us have, at some point in our lives, waited tables, tended bar, or poured coffee on a daily basis and can relate to the fact that tipping, even a little, can go a long way. Cooking Light Diet Community and Content Manager Matthew Moore (who has years of food/beverage service experience under his belt) shares, “If you tip frequently and often, I’m going to remember you, be super nice to you, note your order preferences and be more likely to serve you quicker than everyone else, and probably give you a free coffee on your birthday or something. It’s the whole ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ scenario.” I likewise can totally attest to giving out freebies to customers that were always kind and generous in terms of tipping. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
Tipping came to the forefront of restaurant culture when Danny Meyer&aposs Union Square Hospitality Group in New York, decided to do away with the tipping system in 2016, opting for better wages for the entire staff. Customers in return would pay a fixed cost for dining at his restaurants. These gratuity-free restaurants had to find a way to make up the increased staff costs in their food prices or cutting back overall costs of operation, but established a more reliable income for the staff, who previously relied heavily on tips.
One of the most apparent differences in a full-service restaurant and a fast-casual restaurant is the way in which a server or cook is paid. Full-service restaurant servers generally make around $2 an hour plus tips—thus, their livelihood is based on tipping. Typically, at a “sit-down” restaurant, it is customary to tip between fifteen to twenty percent of your total ticket cost (before taxes). At fast-casual concepts, being that you usually get your food at a counter rather than being “waited on,” a tip based on the cost of your meal isn’t considered necessary. However, most fast-casual restaurants operate on hourly wages based off the national minimum wage of $7.25, or more based on the individual&aposs state minimum wage or the restaurant&aposs set wages. At the end of the day, the latter (excluding tips) is not yielding much more than the former. To put things in perspective, a salary from the national minimum wage is roughly $15,080 before taxes. So I’ll reiterate, every dollar counts for food industry workers—it’s not easy work. Regardless of whether you’re working full-service or fast-casual, the nature of the job entails long hours and plenty of wear on the body.
Point being, when it comes to these tipping “grey areas,” just remember that you are a customer receiving a service, and you should try to honor that relationship courteously by leaving a dollar or two in the tip jar. If you frequent a favorite ice cream shop regularly, know the baker who makes the best cupcakes in town, or routinely gather with friends or colleagues at your local coffee shop, go ahead and go the extra mile when it comes to filling out the tip line on the bill or dropping your change in the jar. It will be greatly appreciated.
12 Problems All People Who Have Worked in Fast Food Understand
1. All the little things customers do mid-order can make the entire process slow down. Like when you&rsquore asking if they want a drink, but they decide to respond to a text in the middle of the order. Or when you hold out your hand to take their card or cash, but they put it on the counter in front of you instead. And if they do pay with cash, when they pay for their entire order with change, which you have to count out.
2. You&rsquore working drive-through and can&rsquot hear the customer with all the background noise in their car. Have you ever tried to hear what someone is saying over the sound of music playing, engines revving, people laughing and talking, or kids crying? And even if they&rsquore the reason you can&rsquot hear, not your headset, customers will still get annoyed when you ask them to repeat themselves multiple times.
3. Sometimes people come up to the register and have no idea what they want. You&rsquore always going to get someone who comes up to the cash register and asks for a &ldquoburger&rdquo when there are six different types of burgers on the menu. Or someone will be standing in front of you completely unsure of what they want to order. It&rsquos really stressful for you because the person you&rsquore trying to help can get irritated when you keep asking them questions, and the people behind them in line are annoyed that you&rsquore taking so long to complete an order.
4. You consider yourself lucky if customers don&rsquot leave behind half-eaten meals, napkins, and sauce on the table. It seems like some customers forget &mdash or just don&rsquot care &mdash that you&rsquore not a waiter and they&rsquore supposed to clear their own meal. Wiping off crumbs and clearing away a few napkins is fine, but finding half a burrito smeared on the table is really frustrating.
5. When things are slow, your manager will ask you to clean the restaurant, which usually includes the bathroom. You go into the bathroom and find paper towels outside of the trash can, toilet paper everywhere, or much, much worse: used pads and tampons on the ground, clogged toilets, pee or poop on or outside of the toilet, and even random things like underwear in the trash can.
6. Extremely large or group orders are one of the worst things that can happen during a shift. If you&rsquove ever had a tour bus or school group decide to stop at your restaurant, you know how chaotic this is. The dinner rush is stressful on its own but having an additional 50 people all at once is hard to keep up with. Someone might accidentally take someone else&rsquos meal, one sandwich might get sent back for having onions, and there will be a few angry customers who weren&rsquot expecting to deal with such a long wait for their food. Basically, no one is happy.
7. You definitely smell like the food you cook, even after you&rsquove left work. If you go somewhere after your shift and don&rsquot get the chance to shower, you probably feel a little self-conscious that your hair smells like fries, fried chicken, or taco meat, depending where you work. But even when you get the chance to wash away burger grease smell from your clothes and skin, your car will probably smell like the place you work no matter how much air freshener you use.
8. People will tell you that you&rsquore out of sauce, ketchup, or a certain drink at the most inconvenient times. You&rsquoll be in the middle of a transaction, and a customer will come up to the counter to tell you that you&rsquore out of forks or hot sauce. Even if they&rsquore trying to help, there isn&rsquot much you can do in that moment when you&rsquore in the middle of helping someone else.
9. &ldquoI can&rsquot, I have work&rdquo is a common refrain on weekend nights and holidays. Most fast-food places are open on holidays and until late, if not all night. That means you probably have to work on a Friday night when all your friends are out having fun, work a night shift and be too tired to do anything the next day, or miss out on a family holiday tradition because you have to work.
10. Some customers want their meals free if one easily fixable thing is wrong with something. Even when you offer to remake the burger you accidentally put ketchup on, you&rsquoll get people who insist on talking to your manager to complain about the service and hope they can get their entire meal free.
11. A drive-through customer coming inside is never a good sign. It usually has to do with a messed-up order, and even if you weren&rsquot the one that prepared the food or took their order, the customer still might take their frustration out on you.
12. When people find out you work in food service, the reaction isn&rsquot always nice. There&rsquos sometimes an attitude from people that the only reason you&rsquore working in food service is because you don&rsquot have any other options or that what you&rsquore doing takes no skill. But you have to be able to pay attention to detail, work efficiently in fast-paced environments, and remain patient in frustrating situations. Regardless of others&rsquo opinions, you know that working in food service &mdash either as a part-time job or full-time career &mdash isn&rsquot easy, and not everyone could handle it.
Easy Lunch Recipes (When You Don’t Want a Salad or Sandwich)
Did you know that lunch has no rules? That’s right. It doesn’t have to be a salad or sandwich. So when you’re craving something different, whip up one of the meals below. Here’s a hint: Make a few extra servings, and the time it takes to make will be well worth your while.
29. Buddha Bowl
With hard-boiled egg, salmon, and edamame, this bowl is packed with protein. With or without the noodles, it will leave your tummy satisfied.
30. Burrito Bowl
What’s that you say? I can make my own burrito bowl? Why yes, yes you can.
31. Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir-Fry
Cooking the chicken and asparagus in lemon juice, garlic, and soy sauce takes the main ingredients from relatively bland to super savory.
32. Kale, Spinach, and Pear Smoothie
A smoothie for lunch? Yes, just go with it. And yes, it’s green. But before you say “blech,” give it a try. I promise, it doesn’t taste like grass.
33. Mini Frittatas
Weekends aren’t the only time for brunch. (But leave the bottomless mimosas for your days off.) Yes, these require some oven time, but make a bunch in advance and you’re set for the week.
34. Rice Cake With Nut Butter and Banana
Another lunch for someone with a sweet tooth—also for someone who needs to put together a lunch quickly.
35. Roast Beef Roll-ups
Easy to make, easy to eat. Substitute any lunch meat if roast beef isn’t your thang.
36. Salad-Stuffed Avocado
Usually avocado is a topping, but in this recipe, it runs the show as a fantastic and edible vessel for your salad (though I wouldn’t eat the peel).
37. Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry
Not just take-out food. You can make your own healthy version and gobble it up all week (or at least a few days). And on the side, maybe you can have some rice (see below).
38. 10-Minute Veggie Fried Rice
Or, you can eat this all on its own. Yum.
39. Superfoods Smoothie
This may be made with blueberries, but you certainly won’t feel blue after you drink it. (Hint: you can also use other berries, too.)
US workers go on strike in 15 cities to demand $15-an-hour minimum wage
The workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, joined by home care and nursing home workers, took action as the Biden administration is attempting to push through an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25, in what would be the first increase in since 2009.
Strikes occurred in Charleston, South Carolina Chicago Flint and Detroit, Michigan Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina Houston Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, Florida St. Louis Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose, California and Milwaukee.
Since 2012, the Fight for $15 movement has organized low-wage workers around the US to push for state and local minimum wage increases and to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour
“We hear you out there applauding essential workers. We see the big show you make of thanking us. But to be honest, that hasn’t translated into changes for my life. We were living on a razor’s edge long before Covid-19 hit South Carolina. And we’re living on it still,” said Taiwanna Milligan, a McDonald’s worker in Charleston who makes $8.75 an hour after working at the restaurant chain for eight years, in a recent op-ed demanding a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage increase.
Fast-food workers in Durham are on STRIKE for higher pay, safe workplaces, and respect on the job. We're also on Zoom with our allies from across the midsouth in the #FightFor15 pic.twitter.com/z69bwt9qMo&mdash Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) February 16, 2021
Workers are conducting the strikes as a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 is included in the coronavirus relief package House Democrats plan to pass and send to the Senate over the next two weeks.
In the Senate, the legislation still faces potential hurdles, including the Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who have opposed including the bill in pandemic relief, and the possibility of the Senate’s parliamentarian ruling a minimum wage measure can’t be included in the relief bill.
Ieishia Franceis has worked at Freddy’s Frozen Custards in west Durham, North Carolina since July 2020 and makes $9.20 an hour. She was one of several workers who went on strike on Tuesday.
“A $15 minimum wage would free me up to do a lot of things. My main goal is to be able to save enough money to put a down payment on a house and have home ownership. It would allow me to begin that process. It would allow me to have money left from one paycheck to the next, to provide for my family better as far as food, and allow me to get transportation so I won’t have to take the bus,” she said.
In October 2020, Franceis and her co-workers went on strike after their requests for paid sick leave for Covid-19 quarantining and testing were initially denied. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed in March 2020 exempted employers with more than 500 employees from granting employees two weeks pay if they needed to quarantine or recover from Covid-19. Now Franceis and her co-workers are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, hazard pay while they continue working during the pandemic, health benefits and ultimately a union.
“Sometimes businesses get so caught up in doing business that they forget who runs their businesses. We’re going to keep fighting and not going to stop until we get all the equality we’re fighting for,” added Franceis. “Congress needs to put our money where their mouth is. During their campaigns, they said they were going to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Live up to what you said. We shouldn’t have to wait until next year or the next year. The bill is there. Just pass it and be done with it.”
Based on a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution, 47% of essential workers are in occupations where the median wage is currently less than $15 an hour. Gradually raising it to $15 an hour would increase pay for 32 million workers in the US, including 59% of workers with a total family income below the poverty line. With the federal minimum wage increase, 31% of Black workers and 26% of Latino workers in the US would receive a raise.
Ryan, a worker at Dunkin'
The threat is so close and near I can practically smell the illness around me. I have expressed my concerns to my franchisees about sick workers and the amount of hours I will be required to work (sick or not) to keep their store running.
Mondays are my day off. my one and only day off . I had to go into work two different times that day . one in the morning and then again in the afternoon. After going in on my day off, I now have to work who knows how many hours until next Monday to actually get some rest.
How will I spend my day off? Resting because my feet are throbbing and I have no energy after working multiple positions and a million hours. I am on salary so on top of it I have no overtime to compensate financially what I myself am going through and doing to make somebody sitting in an office money.
I do hope other fast food workers aren't going through the same as I am. Hopefully I do not get sick from the lack of rest. [I] hope my daughter doesn't continue to be mad at her father because I was unable to take her on the weekend.
"Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our guests, employees, franchisees, their restaurant teams and the communities we serve," Dunkin' said in a statement. "We have implemented temporary brand standards, guidelines and enhanced safety measures at Dunkin' restaurants nationwide, including moving to a carry-out or drive-thru model only, suspending the use of reusable mugs, and allowing franchisees to encourage cashless transactions where permissible. Additionally, in response to national guidance on social distancing and mandates in certain jurisdictions, franchisees have marked floors with painter's tape in six-foot increments to help ensure the safety of restaurant workers and guests who choose to order inside the restaurant, where permissible, and restaurant workers are also maintaining distance by keeping to their own work circles.
Between the federal bill that goes into effect April 1, jurisdictions that already mandated sick pay, and franchisees who have been offering sick pay as part of a suite of benefits to their employees, the great majority of crew members at Dunkin' restaurants should have access to sick pay benefits during this time of crisis.
We and our franchisees remain vigilant in helping to minimize exposure and we will continue to do our best to provide a safe, secure restaurant experience for our guests and restaurant workers during this challenging and uncertain time."