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Living Wage Served Up in Denmark

Living Wage Served Up in Denmark

Fast food workers in the United States are stubbornly fighting for a $15/hour minimum wage, something corporate executives claim they simply can't afford. However, there is evidence that they can indeed to afford to pay workers a living wage. Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse explore in the New York Times how fast food workers in Denmark receive a living wage, or a $20/hour base wage. That's two and half times what the average fast food worker in the United States earns, and $5 per hour than they are demanding.

And workers in Denmark don't just earn $20 an hour. Alderman and Greenhouse explain, "In Denmark, fast-food workers are guaranteed benefits their American counterparts could only dream of. Under the industry’s collective agreement, there are five weeks’ paid vacation, paid maternity and paternity leave and a pension plan. Workers must be paid overtime for working after 6 p.m. and on Sundays." And on top of that, "Unlike most American fast-food workers, the Danes often get their work schedules four weeks in advance, and employees cannot be sent home early without pay just because business slows."

And yet McDonalds, Burger King, and Starbucks continue to operate in the country. The burgers are slightly more expensive, but not absurdly so. And the chains are less profitable — if only because the profits are distributed differently.