With all of the hoopla about adopting a livable wage, the question constantly asked is, “Does a Burger Flipper deserve $15.00 an hour?”
Yes. Yes, they do.
When I reflect on my days as a Burger Flipper, I have fond memories of being shouted at by angry customers. I remember coffee spilled all over me, and change thrown at me. I remember managers bellowing, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean,” while handing me a broom.
Burger Flippers, you see, don’t have it easy. They have scars on their hands because they got a little too close to the grill. Burger Flippers use toxic cleaning solvents that should never have contact with skin. They wear big bulky gloves and a mask while scrubbing the grill at the end of the night.
They clean all of the equipment (the cleanliness standards at most fast food restaurants are higher than provincial health standards); and mop the floors, and ensure food is properly stored in locked fridges for the next day. This takes at least an hour to do.
Burger Flippers are constantly under threat to cook meat properly and ensure e coli or other food contaminants aren’t lurking. They are expected to sweep up stale french fries, along with bits of lettuce and ketchup packets that were accidentally stepped on in the haste of the lunch hour rush.
Burger Flippers go home after their shift and wash the chemicals out of their hair. They throw their uniforms in the washing machine trying, in vain, to get the stench of grease out of their clothes.
Eating a french fry is one thing. Smelling like one is another.
Burger flippers get used to working under conditions that are as humid and stressful. No one can multitask like a Burger Flipper. It is a job where team work is paramount. If one or two members aren’t doing their fair share, the whole system breaks down. Orders are backed up, customers are angry, refunds are demanded.
Burger Flippers see the greatest aspects of humanity, and the worst. Customers can’t see past the ugly uniform and the horribly shaped hat. They don’t realize the person they are yelling at is a fellow tax payer with bills to pay.
Some Burger Flippers have a second job. Some are in still in high school or attending a post-secondary institution. Some Burger Flippers have families to feed. Other Burger Flippers have massive student loans.
In the fast food industry, it is drilled into their heads that they have to do more with less. This also translates into home life when paying bills, as they are forced to get by with a less than a livable wage.
So yes, if someone asks, do Burger Flippers deserve $15 an hour? They do. And they deserve your respect too.