It’s refreshing to once again see diners sitting in their favorite restaurants enjoying the meals they’ve been missing. Styrofoam to-go boxes can’t compete with the ambiance of carefully decorated restaurants or the servers who anxiously succumb to their patron’s every desire to squeeze out more than a customary tip.
But there’s a problem. Not so much in high-end joints that cater to face-stuffing upper-class elites, but more particularly in the fast-food industry where workers struggle to keep their home lights burning with the ‘non-living’ wages they have to juggle bills to survive on.
Unlike the employees of high faluting establishments where the behind-the-scenes works are generally paid better and servers easily make up their lower salaries in tips, no one is throwing money at the burger flippers or tortilla stuffers who do what they do for minimum wage only.
To many of the nation’s fast-food workers, the pandemic has been bitter/sweet. A blessing and a curse. Statistics show how this income bracket took major coronavirus hits due in large to ignoring recommended guidelines, but at the same time, it’s been worth it to them for the luxury of laying out of work and living better. Win-win.
In Tampa, Florida, the franchise owner of a Mcdonald’s is doing what he has to do to find workers. Under normal circumstances, he would have simply called the list of applicants hoping to hear back, but times aren’t normal. Between state unemployment benefits coupled with additional federal unemployment benefits, and a few hefty stimulus checks either stuffed in their mattresses or sucked up their noses, there is no stack of applications.
Franchise owner, Bill Casper, is paying anyone who walks through the door, completes an application, and sits for an interview, $50 in cold hard cash. It was the general manager and a supervisor who came up with the diabolical scheme and it didn’t take much convincing for Casper to jump on board with it. He had already informed them to “do whatever you have to do” to find people.
But Casper isn’t doing this at just one lone McDonald’s. The man has 60 of them scattered about the Tampa Bay area. “At this point, if we can’t keep our drive-thrus moving, then I’ll pay $50 for an interview,” he said out of desperation.
His message is being heard loud and clear on local social media platforms as subscribers continue posting pics of the signs outside each of Casper’s restaurants that simply read, “Get $50 for interview.”
Casper fully suspects the lack of willing workers to be a direct result of the overly generous pandemic relief bill which extended the enhanced federal unemployment program. He believes another contributing factor is due to more businesses, such as his, beating bushes to find workers. It’s a dog eat dog world and they’re all showing their teeth. The federal government is a tough competitor.
Casper said, “It’s a perfect storm right now. You’ve got a lot of people with a lot of money, and they’re out there shopping. And then, on the flip side, we’re scrambling for help.”
“The biggest challenge out there is the federal government and the state government are going to continue with this unemployment because that is truly creating the incentive to not work right now. And, how do you blame somebody? You can make more money on unemployment—and so, we’ve got to be at least above that.”
Casper said that he and other franchise owners have had little choice but to up salaries, and a nickel or a dime an hour isn’t going to do the trick. He’s seriously considering starting new workers at $13 an hour, more than doubling Florida’s minimum wage of $5.63. But. Complacency is still complacency so it may or may not work.
A recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business Group proved how Casper isn’t alone in his quest. It found an astounding 42 percent of small businesses in the same sinking boat as him. And they are all pointing fingers at expanded unemployment benefits.
The survey concluded that “Owners continue to have difficulty finding qualified workers to fill jobs as they compete with increased unemployment benefits and the pandemic keeping some workers out of the labor force. A net 28 percent of owners reported raising compensation (up to three points) and the highest level in the past 12 months.”
So Houston, we have a problem. And it all rests heavily on the shoulders of one President Joe Biden. With so many jobs available at present, and with them offering much better salaries, the feds need to back away from the unemployment table.
The only other solution would be for Biden to swing the border gates open so these struggling businesses can find enough willing workers to fill their vacancies. You know. The illegal kind. The ones who can’t draw unemployment and will work for pennies on the dollar.
What’s it gonna be?