As the nation’s fast food chains resist efforts by industry workers to strike for better wages, the Detroit area fast food restaurant Moo Cluck Moo is now reportedly planning to raise worker pay to fifteen dollars an hour beginning October 1st. In an interview with the Daily Beast’s Daniel Gross, company co-owner Brian Parker justified the 25 percent increase, stating “we always wanted to be at $15 an hour. It just feels human to do it”. He and co-owner, Harry Moorehouse, already pay their starting employees twelve dollars an hour, well above the industry standard and nearly five dollars an hour higher than minimum wage.
The fifteen dollars an hour is symbolic in that it is the amount that striking fast food workers in the “Fight for 15″ campaign are advocating for fast food restaurants and retail stores in the Chicago area. Similar protests are being waged nationwide with workers demanding fifteen dollars an hour in many cases. The restaurant, located in Dearborn Heights (at 8606 Telegraph Rd), just over half a mile from the western edge of Detroit, is offering a competitive wage for fast food workers despite the area’s struggling economy and high unemployment. They could probably get away with paying less and still find employees, but the owners understand that decent wages make more productive employees and reduce turnover rates.
While fast food giants like McDonald’s, Chick Filet and Burger King will undoubtedly make arguments that they cannot afford to pay their workers more than the paltry seven or eight dollars an hour they pay now, a burger and chicken joint in one of the nation’s most impoverished urban metropolitan areas is shredding that argument by paying almost double and thriving. Although Moo Cluck Moo is just a single restaurant and not a national chain, they are planning to begin expansion in the fall.
In the fight for paying workers enough to pay their rent and feed their families, the little restaurant named Moo Cluck Moo is putting an entire industry to shame by offering employees fifteen dollars an hour, while maintaining a profitable local fast food restaurant. The owners already pay their employees twelve dollars an hour and beginning in October that will increase to fifteen dollars an hour. In so doing, they are demonstrating just how absurdly low employees at the national chains are getting paid by comparison. What Moo Cluck Moo is doing in Detroit should be replicated across the nation. If a local burger joint near Detroit can survive while paying its workers a living wage, there is no excuse for fast food giants across the nation to stubbornly refuse to pay their employees a decent wage. Moo Cluck Moo is demonstrating that a restaurant can prosper without forcing its employees to work for mere crumbs. Other fast food restaurants and chains please take note.