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Striking McDonald's worker Bartolome Perez, 42, (L) protests outside McDonald's on Hollywood Boulevard as part of a nationwide strike by fast-food workers to call for wages of $15 an hour, in Los Angeles, California August 29, 2013. Fast-food workers stag
When I served in the Army my first duty station was in Wildflecken, West Germany, a small outpost on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. When I first got there the dining options were the mess hall, the AAFES (Army/Air Force Exchange Service) pizza parlor, the bowling alley, the schnitzel stand (I kinda miss that place), or the Rod and Gun club. The choices expanded when you walked down the mountain and into town, there was Rathskeller, a Gasthaus, several bars, and the worst little pizza place you have ever eaten at. Midway through my tour a Burger King opened on post, and it was like a little slice of home.

Employees of fast food restaurants on military bases fall under President Obama's recent executive order increasing minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The response by the concessionaires? They are closing up shop on military bases across the world. Now military base fast food operations likely make up less than one percent of fast food company profits. In my day, Burger King was the only fast food place on pretty much any post. Today there are Subways, Pizza Huts, McDonald's and Burger Kings.

For some perspective here, the CEO of McDonald's makes $8.75 million dollars a year. The CEO of Burger King makes $6.5 million a year.  The average wage of an hourly worker at McDonald's is $7.81 an hour. Burger King isn't much better, where crew wages range between $7.60 and $7.79 an hour.

On military bases around the world, many of the employees at these fast food restaurants and those that will be impacted the most by these closings will be military spouses and veterans. Instead of being paid a living wage they will lose their jobs. Not because fast food restaurants cannot afford to pay a living wage, but because of the greed of the fast food restaurant management and shareholders.

The fast food industry is not closing the military base locations because of the minimum wage increase. They are doing it to make the point that raising minimum wage will cause a loss of jobs. Which is in a word, bullshit. No one, no family can survive on under $8 an hour. For these folks working for inadequate wages, they have to turn to public assistance to survive. Our tax dollars are subsidizing these low wages that fast food restaurants pay. If the Republican Party were serious about reducing or ending safety net programs they would be behind raising minimum wage and ending this form of corporate welfare.

If companies can afford to pay their CEO between $3125 and $4206 an hour, they can afford to pay their front line employees $10.10 to $15.00 an hour. The argument that they would need to raise the price of food to subsidize this pay raise is also faulty. Instead of raising food prices and closing restaurants to pay for an across the board pay increase for their lowest paid front line employees, maybe they should cut bloated executive pay. It would take someone earning the average wage at McDonald's 523 years to make what the CEO makes in a year.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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