Economy

This Paramedic's Response to Complaints About Overpaid "Burger Flippers" is Amazing

When a New York wage board recommended to raise the minimum hourly wage of fast food workers to $15, low-paid workers across the city rejoiced. But not everyone has been happy about the news, including some working class professionals who argue that people working in unskilled industries such as fast food should not earn as much as, say, paramedics.

Well, that is exactly what one Arlington, Texas, paramedic, Jens Rushing, wanted to address. In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Rushing defends the New York pay raise and challenges critics to be more open-minded about the concept of a living wage. He's not alone, either. The majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage, according to a recent Pew poll.

Rushing

Rushing makes $15 per hour today, and his job requires an extensive skill set—"interpersonal, medical, and technical skills, as well as the crucial skill of performing under pressure," as he describes. Yet, he supports raising the minimum wage nonetheless.

"Look, if any job is going to take up someone's life, it deserves a living wage," Rushing contends. "If a job exists and you have to hire someone to do it, they deserve a living wage. End of story."

He goes on to talk about the common arguments he hears around his workplace and social media; educated and skilled workers—he uses electricians as an example—complain about "burger flippers" and how the push to raise their wages is an insult to those who had to study and train more rigorously for their jobs.

"And that's exactly what the bosses want! They want us fighting over who has the bigger pile of crumbs so we don't realize they made off with almost the whole damn cake. Why are you angry about fast food workers making two bucks more an hour when your CEO makes four hundred TIMES what you do? It's in the bosses' interests to keep your anger directed downward, at the poor people who are just trying to get by, like you, rather than at the rich assholes who consume almost everything we produce and give next to nothing for it."

Indeed, top CEOs made approximately 373 times more than the average employees of their respective companies, the Wall Street Journal reported. In 2014, CEO compensation rose almost 16 percent, and the average worker's wage grew only 2.4 percent.

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"My company, as they're so fond of telling us in boosterist emails, cleared 1.3 billion dollars last year," Rushing says. "They expect guys supporting families on 26-27k/year to applaud that." But the Texas paramedic reads beyond those numbers, leading him to conclude that American workers are being collectively scammed. Corporate executives can pay their employees more—but they don't because, as he puts it, "[N]o one's making them."

 

Writer Studs Terkel often spoke of this dynamic. The Pulitzer Prize winner, who died 2008 at aged 96, once said that "[w]e always compete against the other guy rather than saying 'who are these big guys, this CEO, who is getting 20 million bucks for knocking off 50,000 people?"

 
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Rushing's advice? Make them.

The workers in NY *made* them. They fought for and won a living wage. So how incredibly petty and counterproductive is it to fuss that their pile of crumbs is bigger than ours? Put that energy elsewhere. Organize. Fight. Win.

If you think it's time to raise the minimum wage, sign this petition.