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.

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