As thousands of fast food workers in nearly 60 cities strike today for a living wage, progressive small business people stand with them. People working at jobs that pay $7-8 an hour cannot support themselves or their families. There is no way to make that math work. And workers who cannot support themselves are in no position to spend money purchasing services and products from local businesses. The low wage economy means big profits for major corporations, hardship for working people, and hard times for local economies.
Locally owned and managed restaurants, in particular, cannot and should not compete with fast food giants that poison their customers and exploit their workers. Instead, progressive business people know that living wage, municipal minimum wage, and guaranteed sick leave ordinances strengthen our prospects as business people by helping to make sure that our employees and coworkers are healthy and happy and have disposable incomes.
Today’s strikes show the courage of working people. They also show the desperation of our times. We expect that these strikes will be ultimately successful in bringing the multinational fast food corporations to the table to negotiate industry-wide wage increases. But we also see in these strikes the need for a new national labor and economic strategy that puts the needs of working people and our communities first by guaranteeing a living wage for all working people, providing Medicare for All, and investing in cooperatives, credit unions, public banks, and first time entrepreneurs instead of subsidizing unsustainable industries and multinational corporations.
~ Sarah Manski serves as Administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Economy Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States.