Fast food workers across the country stayed away from their jobs to protest the wages paid by companies including McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Yum Brands' (NYSE:YUM) Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, and others. The protests were scattered across the country and received media attention as the discussion on wages intensifies.
In this episode of Business Take, the show that gives you the Foolish perspective on the most important business stories of the week, host Jason Hellmann and Fool contributor Daniel Kline discuss the ramifications.
"This is going to not only impact the businesses that [the striking workers] work for, but also other businesses that employ low-wage workers," Hellmann said.
"I don't think this is going to force massive change," Kline said as he detailed his personal experience of driving around a fast food district and seeing no striking workers. "The thing about being a low-paid workers is that you are low-paid. You can't afford to stay away from work that long."
Kline doubted that fast food workers would be able to engage in job actions for a long enough period to make their employers pay attention. That is not the end of the minimum wage debate, though. Kline, who describes himself as a "diehard capitalist," acknowledged that there is a growing need to address companies that make huge profits while its workers make so little they qualify for public assistance.
"If you take a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) worker or a McDonald's worker making minimum wage, those employees are getting affordable health care benefits, they're also getting food stamps, so we are essentially paying Wal-Mart to underpay its workers," Kline said. "That has to change. We can't have a system where my dollars and your dollars are supporting a company making more money."
"And Obama has come out in support of a minimum wage increase, so this is something that could really happen," Hellmann said.
What are the challenges inherent in increasing the minimum wage and the negative impact on small and struggling businesses? Watch the video below, then weigh in with your take on the minimum wage debate. Should it be increased? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. Jason Hellmann has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.