Fast food ≠ low pay

Continuing the fast food theme (yum): BK in the USA vs. BK in Denmark, fast food work can provide living wages, if the institutional environment is right. Read the report by Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times.
The fast food restaraunt is an organizational technology designed to use low cost labor – a restaurant that can operate without any employee who knows how to cook! That does not mean that fast food employees must be poorly paid: as Alderman and Greenhouse explain more clearly than one often sees in print, the system of regulation (unions, here, figure among the regulators) has a great deal to do with how a firm’s revenue is divvied up between wages and profits. Fast food restaurants in Denmark pay living wages, and enjoy lower profits, than those in the USA.
The same theme (not Denmark, but are-wages-determined-by-regulation-or-technology) is developed in detail by David Weil in his recent book The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It; Weil’s book is reviewed by Robert Kuttner in the New York Review of Books (paywall), and by Thomas Kochan in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review (this one for free).

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