Fast-food workers have long struggled to form unions, according to Ed Wertheim, an associate business professor at Northeastern University. Employees cycle in and out of the industry at “tremendously high” rates — greater than 75% turnover each year, he said.
“The mind-set among the vast majority of these workers is that they’re not going to be in it for the long haul as a career,” he said. “And they’re certainly viewed as being easily replaceable.”
If activists manage to substantially raise the minimum wage, workers’ jobs could be at stake, according to the right-leaning Employment Policies Institute. Eateries forced to pay higher salaries could start swapping human labor for cheaper automated technology, the group said.
And costs could rise along the fast-food supply chain as workers in the fuel, cleaning and agriculture industries also benefited from a federal minimum wage hike, DeFife said. Two-thirds of a typical restaurant’s expenses come from labor and food costs.