1) That company (and many other companies) may run operations so tight that they cannot adjust reasonably to give higher wages to their employees, or store it up for a rainy day incase finances take a bad turn. Not saying McD does this, per se, but it is possible. A company's goal has usually been to maximize returns to the shareholders.
2) Employees are not adequately recognized as wanting to get ahead in life or just make a living wage. In my view, you could get away with giving high school students a low wage since they're likely part-time workers with no children. But if someone is working full-time, they're spending it mostly with that company and need to be paid a livable wage that reflects their time commitment.
3) Federal and state minimum wage requirements have stolen the employee's negotiating power from the workers. In an effort to make sure they get the money they need, the government has unintentionally provided a lazy template for companies to follow, a wage floor. So employers know what to expect and keep wages around that area, and therefore don't have to negotiate with each employee what is truly acceptable to them. Over time, employees have become conditioned not to expect much of a negotiation; it's just a formality when they see the expected wage on the job application. In bad economies, they also are seen as expendable, and often settle for whatever they can get. (Better a bird in hand, right?)
So for the striking workers, I say get it if you can, but be prepared to move on somewhere else because you will likely be replaced. But the major victory will be in asserting your right to be compensated for your time. But an even wiser mass-uprising would have each individual knowing their own worth and their own individual needs, and negotiating according to those needs and strengths for every job.
I am one of the co-founders of the Christian game design studio Renewal Corporation. For our philosophy and upcoming product updates, please see our blog: http://renewalcorp.blogspot.com
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