Fast food workers went on strike last week in several major cities, including New York. The strike was a bigger version of the November 2012 fast food strikes covered by Sarah Jaffe for Truthout. Fast food workers also struck four months ago in April.
The strikers are demanding a raise from minimum wage - or close to it - to $15 an hour. The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour. In New York the state minimum wage will rise to $8 an hour on January 1, 2014.
That's still a long way from the $15 an hour demanded by striking workers. In fact, the median hourly wage among all hourly wage-earners in the country is $12.71 an hour only, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Is $15 an hour really a fair wage for serving fast food? Is it reasonable? Is it affordable? In a word: YES.
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When the various US federal minimum laws were harmonized in 1978, the uniform federal minimum wage was set at $2.65 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of $9.49 today, according to the BLS online inflation calculator.