Fox News campaigned against New York City fast food workers who are striking to secure higher wages by attacking their work ethic and pushing falsehoods about the minimum wage that they are paid.
On April 4, hundreds of fast food workers in New York City walked out of their workplaces, striking against their current wage of $7.25 an hour and pushing to be paid a livable wage of $15 an hour. The New York Times reported that many of the striking workers “say they can barely get by on the $7.25, $8 or $9 an hour that many receive.”
On April 5, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade responded to the strike by claiming that the minimum wage many fast food workers are paid was never supposed to be a “career wage” and if workers wanted to earn more, they need to get an additional job or work harder in order to earn a pay raise or promotion. Co-host Steve Doocy followed by hyping a restaurant industry group claim that raising the minimum wage would prove ruinous for the industry and for workers:
KILMEADE: So I believe, you -- minimum wage was never meant to be a career wage. If you work hard you will get higher -- you will get more money. Here's the other thing, as hard as it is in some cases, because you are a single mom or a single dad, you've got to get another job. You've got to get another job on top of that so you have two incomes. Hopefully, that will change.
DOOCY: Brian you hit it on the nose I think the key thing. If it is a minimum wage job, expect to get paid the minimum wage. The National Restaurant Association said that they provide 13 million jobs, and those jobs could be jeopardized across the country if the minimum wage goes up. The industry says one of the best paths to achieving the American dream is to start with an entry level, minimum-wage job that is minimum wage.
According to an August 2012 National Employment Law Project report, lower-wage jobs, including “food preparation workers,” accounted for 58 percent of job growth during the recovery from the recession. And according to 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, nearly half of minimum wage earners, like those fast food workers on strike, are 25 years old and older.
The pay these workers receive is worth less and less. A December 2011 Bloomberg article noted that the minimum wage in 2010 was worth 20 percent less than it was in 1967. While the value of the minimum wage has declined, worker productivity has increased. A February Huffington Post article citing the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) noted that if the minimum wage had kept up with worker productivity, it would've reached $21.72 an hour in 2012.
A December 2012 Bloomberg article that described the difficulties of being a fast food service worker noted that while the fast food industry has recently enjoyed double-digit profit growth, that growth was not passed down to workers. The article included the following graphic:
Additionally, there is a sizable gap between the New York City minimum wage and what experts project the livable wage should be in the New York City region. According to The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's minimum wage calculator, a living wage in New York City for one adult is $12.75 an hour, as opposed to the current $7.25 an hour and the $9.00 an hour minimum wage set to take effect in the state in 2016.
Despite the restaurant industry's position that Doocy read on-air, increasing the minimum wage would not kill jobs. According to a February CEPR report, most of the evidence from recent studies on the subject show that there is “little or no employment response to modest increases in the minimum wage” because employers shift the cost of the pay increase and the pay increase would decrease costs associated with high turnover in low-wage jobs.