The Price They Pay for $12.56

Silas Miller, Contributor

Fast food service workers should be recognized in the food service industry. They often deal with rude customers, stress, and bad working conditions, all while being paid a poor wage. Despite all this, many people look down on those who work fast food jobs as lazy teenager’s job.


Although the world of fast food is a staggering $300 billion industry, the average starting salary for a worker in the US is only $12,000 a year. In 2022 that amount of money doesn’t even come close to rivaling inflation when it comes to housing, food, and other necessities. 


Even if you end up working for long enough to make around $24,000 (the average salary of all fast food workers), you, like a lot of people, might need a second or even third job to make ends meet.


While these giant corporations are raking in millions of dollars by using their employees, the people doing the hard work are getting little in return. Considering the amount of work fast food chains can get out of their employees, I think they should be paying them around a 25-dollar-per-hour salary.


Stress, injuries, and long hours on your feet also contribute to the thankless job of a fast food worker. Many workers deal with high stress in terms of managing orders, making mistakes, and constantly busy work. 


The fast-paced, stressful work environment of businesses such as McDonald’s can be mentally, physically, and emotionally draining.


Arabella Dunnington, a fast food worker at Cane’s, has become quite acquainted with the stress that comes with the job.


“As an employee at Raising Cane’s the expectations are astronomical. From taking a customer’s order to getting the food into their hands has to take no more than 3.5 minutes. With the chicken cooking for about 4.5 minutes, you have to essentially have psychic abilities to know exactly how much chicken goes into the fryers for the upcoming food ordered. Having to move so quickly constantly and efficiently is on the bottom line a workout for 5 hours straight with no break.”


With a fast-paced environment also comes injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released that over a two-year long period, 44,800 teen fast food workers were injured. Most of those injuries were found in hamburger joints.


Many workers often suffer burns from the hot oil, cuts from using sharp objects, and grill-associated injuries. These injuries can be very painful, and not worth the paycheck.


Finally, rude customers create the already poor work environment so much worse. Getting yelled at over McNuggets by a middle-aged mom and her kids shouldn’t be taken lightly. Since many people see fast food workers as merely ‘workers’ and not so much as people, they often find it easier to leave empathy at the door. 


Between the low pay, stress, and rude customers that fast food workers have to deal with, they seriously need more credit. Next time you are out getting fast food, choose kindness in the way you interact with the people there.