Friday, July 24, 2015

The truth about the NY State $15 fast food minimum wage

The NY State Wage Board issued a recommendation to raise the NY State Minimum Wage from $8.75 to $15 an hour for fast-food franchises with 30 or more locations in NY State.   This proposed wage increase requires NY State Labor Commissioner approval before it's a done deal.  Let's look at some facts:

  • The increase will be phased in over 6 years, not right away:  The $15 an hour wage increase will not help workers right away, it will be phased in NYC by 2018 while the rest of NY State will have the $15 an hour minimum wage by 2021.  Do you really think anyone flipping burgers or serving coffee will make this a career path for the next 6 years?
  • There will be elimination of food perks:  A perk working in the fast food industry (as I once started there, working at three different McDonalds in the early 1990s) is free or reduced meals.  These meals usually add, on average, an $1 an hour to the salary, and they are often tax free.  The wage increase will drive labor costs, forcing companies to look by other means to cut labor expenses, such as eliminating free or discounted food.  This is the cost of doing business, you get a bigger salary but you would have to give up the food perk.  Besides, your body doesn't need to eat all that junk food,
  • The wage increase does not other labor fields, such as clerical, retail or other skilled labor:  Many small companies hiring clerical, secretarial, or other office work, pay at or slightly above minimum wage.  The same goes for retail shops such as Target, Wal-Mart and other retail outlets  The clerical workers have acquired some basic office skills which will be helpful in their career advancement so why not pay them the $15 an hour instead.  Why pay workers a higher minimum wage for a job with no skills or experience needed when there are office workers who are struggling on $8.75 an hour?  Flipping burgers is not a stepping stone for career advancement unless you want to advance to restaurant manager which are few and far between.
  • The fast-food industry is a stepping stone for first time job seekers and retirees, not as a career:  For decades, the majority of fast food workers are college students, and retirees.  It's a job, nonetheless, but it's a job where you develop basic skills such as listening and administering orders from your supervisors, time management skills, attendance/punctuality, and good customer service skills.  It's not a job for the next 20 years which is supposed to pay your rent and bills.  Besides, how would it look on your resume that your only jobs you had were working at McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts?  Would your future wife look at you when you tell her that you work at McDonalds for the past 10 years?  Is this the future of our U.S. workforce?
We should tackle income inequality in a better way - - by lowering taxes and providing real jobs with good pay.  The CEO of Dunkin Donuts said that NY State's $15 minimum wage is excessive and suggested that the NY State legislature should look at $12 an hour instead while tackling income inequality between the rich and poor. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Donald Trump - - his betrayal towards McCain and the U.S. veterans

I worked at the now-closed Loews 34th Street showplace theater when I first shook hands with Donald Trump in the early 1990s as he entered the 3-screen theater to see a movie for the night - with his then-wife Ivana Trump and his security detail.  Trump is a nice guy to talk to and I had a lot of respect for him - even when he announced on June 16  that he threw his 24-karat gold hat into the crowded 2016 Presidential run field.  He is a brash no-nonsense person who spoke the truth about Francisco Sanchez, the man who allegedly murdered Kathryn Steinle on July 1 in San Francisco    after it was reported that Sanchez was deported 5 times from the United States back to Mexico.    He may have offended Mexicans, calling them drug dealers and rapists (not all Mexicans are like that) - but illegal immigration is a serious problem in the United States and President Obama has been a joke when it comes to our national security. 

But I lost all respect for Trump after his comments about U.S Senator John McCain's (R - AZ) war record, "He (McCain) is not a war hero"  and ""He was a war hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured." I find insulting to every American soldier - - died in the line of duty, Prisoner of War, Missing in Action, or safely home after doing his/her service.   .   Nice way to insult a war veteran - - especially when you were a draft dodger during the Vietnam War - - and never served in the military.   At least I will admit I never served in the military but I have a great love and respect for our men and women who fought for our great country.  My father was a photographer when he served in the Army in the mid-1960's and my late father-in-law served in the Jamaica forces.   My family's military background gives me more cause to support our U.S. war veterans.  Trump has zero respect for them - - he hasn't said anything about the nearly 50,000 U.S. military veterans who are homeless - - a sickening number given the fact that they fought for our country's economy and freedom.  Meanwhile we feed and house welfare recipients  - - why can't we do the same to our U.S war veterans - - they should come first over welfare cases.  

Please Trump, leave the presidential race.  We had one draft dodger (Clinton) in office - - we don't want another hypocrite draft dodger in 2017.  Anyone who insults our U.S military should be permanently barred from running any U.S. office.  We need a Presidential candidate who will put our military and working class families first - - not illegal immigrants, not people on welfare and who refuse to look for work, and definitely not special interest groups fulfilling their own personal agenda through lobbyists in Congress. 

We can provide equal opportunities for marriage through our U.S. Supreme Court, we can make a (flawed) deal with Iran (they will get billions) on nuclear weapons, we can take down the Confederate flag, we can give the world to a single mother but we can't house, feed and provide good medical care to a U.S. war veteran.  Mr. Donald Trump, I am waiting for your response about our homeless veterans since you said nothing about this.  Very sad. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NYCT's World Cup miscommunication

Blog Note:  I haven't had time to do any blogging until this week - - I am playing catch up now - - this blog post was intended to be posted last week but is still worth mentioning about incorrect information.  DG

MTA now has a Pledge to Customers which among other things, will now strive to provide "... accurate, timely and useful information on service conditions, including station, platform and onboard announcements, roadway and toll plaza signage, email alerts, postings on, and media reports."  When I read this page for the first time, I howled in laughter because I thought this was funnier than watching "Airplane".  

That said, I will discuss a relatively minor NYC Transit event on July 10th during the U.S. Women's soccer team ticker tape parade.  Such a minor thing and NYCT doesn't post the right information.

Before I begin, I want to give belated congratulations to the Women's United States team for winning the 2015 World Cup.  Their well deserved championship got them prized front row seats to NYC's world famous ticker tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes on July 10.  Meanwhile, MTA tells us that their public transportation network (NYC Transit, Long Island Railroad and Metro-North) is the best way to get to the parade (actually a ferry boat ride from Staten Island is the best way to Lower Manhattan because it's free). 

But even with the World Cup transportation information, MTA omits something from that webpage.  On the day of the parade, a switch problem outside Chambers Street on the 1/2/3 lines threw everything into a mini-chaos on the IRT West Side - - along with complete misinformation.

First the web omission  - - Park Place on the 2/3 lines is missing from the station list - - it is a transfer point to Chambers/WTC station on the A, C, and E lines - - was Park Place going to be fully closed like the R City Hall or would it subject to closure only as directed by the NYC Police Department (NYPD)?  The eastern end (or railroad south, towards Brooklyn) has two direct exits to Park Place and Broadway, along the parade route and close proximity to City Hall.  Also NYCT thinks about the old weekend J service pattern when the J used to terminate at Chambers Street on weekends - Fulton Street and Broad Street stations were also omitted from that page.

Now the miscommunication part, and this was observed by me during my lunch hour.   I walked to Wall Street when I first discovered the PA/CIS displays (the "countdown clocks") were not working.

Then I realized about the switch problem at Chamber Street - - because of this, there was no service on the 1/2/3 lines between Chambers Street and 34th Street, according to NYCT's service advisory.   About 30 minutes later, there was "limited" service.

Wall Street on the 2 and 3 has three fare control areas, the main staffed area on the north side of Wall and William Streets and the unmanned entrances on the south side of Wall/William as well as Pine Street. There were station agents at the main entrance (north side of Wall and William Streets) giving out block tickets, but nobody was at the other 2 entrances.

The illuminated outdoor ads with the service notice tickers - - one of the MTA's so-called hallmarks of informing customers, don't show the entire notice on screen as you can see.  What good is this customer benefit if it is not used to the fullest potential by giving half of a service notice?

At the main entrance, NYCT employees were telling customers that there was no uptown service but service to Brooklyn was running (that world make NYCT's service advisory incorrect because nothing was stated about 2/3 service from Hoyt Street in Brooklyn to Park Place in Manhattan).  Now let's look at the original advisory which affected service between Chambers and 34th Street due to a switch problem at Chambers Street.  The interlocking (a series of switches where trains can go from track to another) is all located north of Chambers Street.  By virtue of having no service between Chambers and 34th Street implies that there is normal service on the 1 line between Old South Ferry and Chambers - - and normal service on the 2/3 between Chambers Street and Brooklyn.  But where would the 1/2/3 trains turn?  Right through the entire interlocking which makes it impossible because one of these switches is under repair.  So NYCT failed to mention that some 2 trains were running on the 4 and 5 Lexington Ave lines between the Bronx and Brooklyn while 3 service was not running between Atlantic Ave and 34th Street.  The PA/CIS confirms that there was no service at  If the service advisory was done correctly, then it would have been written like this:

Due to a switch problem at Chamber Street, the following service changes take place.

1 - - No service between 34th Street and South Ferry

2/3 - No service between 34th Street and Atlantic Ave.  Some 2 trains will run on the 5 line in both directions between Nevins Street, Brooklyn and 149th Street/Grand Concourse.

When limited service resumed between 34th Street and Chambers, there was nothing about limited or no service between South Ferry/Chambers on the 1 and between Brooklyn and Chambers Street on the 2/3.  The omission of this information implies to the customer reading this notice that service is running with delays south of Chambers.   

With the wrong service notices and incomplete information during a major parade event - - MTA and NYC Transit continue to break the so-called Pledge to Customers.  Taking a line from that classic Airplane movie - - surely the MTA can't be serious. 

Next NYC Transit related post will be an unbelievable sight I found in Queens.