Debunking 4 Outrageous Comments Against Raising the Minimum Wage

September 5th 2015

Laura Donovan

The majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage, but many still feel that people in minimum wage jobs, such as fast food workers, are not skilled enough to warrant higher pay, among other benefits. Over the past year, ATTN: has extensively covered myths about the minimum wage and highlighted the efforts of the organization Fight For $15, which advocates for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

ATTN: has published many pieces about the minimum wage and we've observed a great number of comments that perpetuate myths about what a higher minimum wage would mean for the country. We've debunked some of the most outrageous responses to our minimum wage content below.

1. "No one told him to work at McDonald's for 22 years, if you want more out of life go out and get it."

This comment was a response to our April video of a longtime McDonald's worker named Bart, who has worked at the company for more than two decades. Despite his loyalty to his employer, his wage has only increased to 29 cents per year.

I've worked at McDonald's for 22 years. Here is my story.

Bart has worked at McDonald's for 22 years. They have only increased his wage 29 cents per year. Learn about his #FightFor15.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015


In the video above, Bart says in Spanish, "Ten years ago, this was the perfect job. I always enjoyed it, respected it, did my best. In 22 years, they have only increased my wage 29 cents per year."

"We are the motor of every store you see," Bart continues in the video. "If we don't benefit, we have to speak up ... In the richest nation of the world, we are living [in] the worst level of poverty than other nations."

Though many say minimum wage earners should just "get another job" if they want a better life, it's not so easy for those born into low-income homes. As we previously noted, a 2013 study from the Pew Charitable Trust found that only 26 percent of those raised in low-income households moved up to middle or upper class brackets.

"Building savings is a tremendous tool for promoting upward mobility but it is largely ignored by policymakers," Justin King, policy director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, told CNN of the findings. "They have to trade their long-term well-being for short-term assistance."

Of course, not all minimum wage workers are from low-income families. As a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report acknowledges, some low-wage workers come from middle class families, but this doesn't change the fact that the "erosion in the minimum wage’s value over the past 45 years has hurt both low- and middle-income families."

During this year's Fight for $15 nationwide rally on April 15, Franchesca Ramsey of Upworthy pointed out that there will always be a need for service industry workers as well:

2. "McDonald's jobs are meant for high school kids."

On the same video thread, one commenter wrote that McDonald's jobs are only for teenagers and are not for adults in need of full-time work.

"I make more than 15 an hour, McDonald jobs are meant for high school kids trying to get a start on life not someone to make a Career [sic] out of and to give a McDonald worker 15 an hour is just not fair if you look at it in the long run it won't create more jobs, it would actually create less I had to get educated for what I wanted to do," the commenter wrote.

While it's true that many young people get their first jobs at placed like McDonald's, there are plenty of adults who work at fast food joints to pay the bills. According to a 2013 report from the National Employment Law Project, the average fast food worker is 29 years old. More than a quarter of these folks are over 25, have tried pursuing higher education, and they are raising kids. Union organizers told the New York Times that up to half of them had more than one job.

Earlier this year, ATTN: interviewed McDonald's crew trainer Jemere Calhoun, a father in his 30s who publicly spoke out against McDonald's treatment of on-the-job burns at a March protest in Los Angeles.

We Spoke to McDonald's Workers About Being Burned on the Job

We Spoke to McDonald's Workers About Being Burned on the Job

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, March 18, 2015


After hearing Calhoun's experiences getting burned by the McDonald's frying machine and coffee maker, ATTN: asked whether he'd ever considered looking for another job. He told ATTN: at the time that it's not so easy locking down a different opportunity in the current economic climate, especially with a child's well-being to consider.

"You always think about working somewhere else, but sometimes you look at the current job market and there aren't a lot of different things out there," Calhoun told ATTN:. "You can't take the risk of quitting a job because you're fed up, especially if you have mouths to feed and bills and things to take care of."

At an April Fight for $15 rally, ATTN: interviewed 22-year-old Jibri Range, also a father working at McDonald's in Los Angeles.

"It's been all hard work, and I feel like I have to walk on pins and needles just to prove to them that I'm worth [higher wages]," Range told ATTN: at the rally. "They say that I'm lazy. We're really going to be heard today, [and] now is the time when they're really going to pay attention to us."

The South-Central, Los Angeles location where Range works as a maintenance employee has repeatedly refused his requests for higher wages.

3. "So youre saying imma get payed less as a lifeguard and all you lazy fucks are gonna get paid more? Naw fuck that."

This comment was in response to our April video about minimum wage myths:

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

Posted by ATTN: on Saturday, April 4, 2015


As earlier noted, union organizers told the New York Times in 2013 that up to half of fast food workers work more than one job, and more than a quarter of fast food workers have children at home. Lazy is not how one would describe people who hold multiple jobs in order to pay their bills or feed their families.

Earlier this year, ATTN: interviewed Jackie Teepen, a union organizer at the California Faculty Association representing CSU-LA and CSU-Pomona. She said that increasing the minimum wage would improve overall performance and boost morale in workers, many of whom juggle multiple jobs because they can't get enough hours or high enough pay at any one position.

"You're not then rushing to your second or third job," Teepen told ATTN:. "You'll be putting a little more effort into what you're already doing, and then you'll go to college."

In May, thousands of McDonald's workers surrounded the company's corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois to call for a higher minimum wage outside the company's annual shareholder meeting. Anggie Godoy, a 19-year-old who has worked as a McDonald's cashier for a year, told ATTN: at the time that she traveled from Los Angeles to attend the protests because "it's clear McDonald's could pay its workers $15 an hour" yet fails to do so.

Godoy also told ATTN: about all the multitasking she has to do in her role, furthering the notion that you can't be lazy and thrive in fast food.

"I have to do three people's jobs," she said. "Let's say I'm taking orders in the drive-thru: I have to be doing drinks, I have to be taking orders, and then I also have to be running myself, which means getting my food and giving it to the drive-thru [customers] in the last window."

4. "You want good pay, go to school. Work hard and or work two jobs, or create one."

Why Working At Burger King Is Still Not Enough to Afford College

Meet Homer. He works at Burger King. He wants to #FightFor15 so he can afford community college, which his currently salary does not allow.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015


At the April 15 rally, union organizer Teepen told ATTN: that minimum wage workers can't just decide to go to college with their current earnings.

"College is so expensive, so you can't go to universities without having a higher wage," Teepen said. "[Fifteen dollars an hour would] make a huge difference, particularly if you want to pay for college, housing, or health care. I have two children who make minimum wage, one who is trying to support her family and get her master's degree. It's incredible to watch her struggle."

In 1978, working a minimum wage job full-time for seven whole weeks was enough to pay for a year of in-state tuition at a university. Today, a student must work nearly 27 full 40-hour work weeks to make enough money to pay a year's worth of in-state tuition.

Paying for College in 1978 vs. Paying for College Now

How Much You Need To Work To Cover Tuition in 1978 vs. Now

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, April 3, 2015


During the McDonald's annual shareholder meeting, Godoy told ATTN: that McDonald's had previously denied her a raise and that her $9 per hour earnings discouraged her from thinking about pursuing higher education, even though she hopes to study political science.

"It's so hard for me to even think about going to college because I'm struggling to help my mom support my two other siblings and I struggle to pay my bills," Godoy said. "So I have to put my college dreams on hold because I can't afford it ... With [$15 an hour], I think I'd be able to save up to go to college."

Taking out loans to go to college understandably intimidates many young people, as America is more than a trillion dollars in student debt. A 2014 White House report found that non-college educated workers are at a long-term economic disadvantage, as a "four-year degree yields approximately $570,000 more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma alone." High school educated folks will earn $170,000 less over a lifetime than those with two-year degrees.

Countries Are Lining Up For Free College Education...Why Not Us?

Maybe the U.S. could take some cues...

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, February 12, 2015