Fast Food Restaurant That Pays Workers $20 Per Hour Reignites Labor Debate

All year, the struggles that many businesses have seen in finding employees has made debates about the nature of America's labor shortage as heated and enduring as when they started.

And in that time, we've heard no end of theories regarding how this shortage came to be, what can be done about it, and whether it's even accurate to characterize the situation that way.

But while some are simply lamenting that "nobody wants to work anymore," others maintain that any shortage we're seeing is the result of unsustainable business practices that existed before the pandemic emerged collapsing in on themselves.

For them, the businesses who can't find workers are going to keep facing those issues until the jobs they need help with are worth doing.

And after one woman's video hit TikTok, both these people and their opponents have found a new battleground in the form of a regional fast food restaurant.

On October 23, a woman in Kent, Washington who goes by @missadriennek recorded a fully-staffed Dick's Drive-In location.

As she pointed out and as Kiro Radio has confirmed, the 15 employees working at this location all make $20 an hour as part of a test program that raised wages a dollar from the new rate set in September.

As the TikToker saw it, this had a lot to do with why this restaurant was seemingly unaffected by the labor shortage.

And while opponents of raising fast food workers' wages in this way often predict a spike in prices as a result, @missadriennek argued against that point as well.

She stated that her group bought three cheeseburgers (one of which being a deluxe burger), two orders of fries, a milkshake and a float and still found that the total cost amounted to less than $20.

Indeed, this experience was confirmed by the chain's president Jasmine Donovan, who told Kiro Radio that prices increased by between five to 10 cents for most products and 25 cents for the deluxe burgers.

Add that to the fact that Dick's also provides childcare, health care, and scholarship benefits and it hardly surprised the TikTok user that they weren't short on employees.

As for how they can manage to do this, Donovan said that their status as a beloved fixture of the Pacific Northwest for the past 70 years has provided them with a large and passionate enough customer base to afford such policies and price increases.

According to Bored Panda, this was echoed in one comment on the video left by someone claiming to be a Dick's employee.

As they said, "We go through nearly 2,000 orders on a slow day."

The video we see here led one commenter to say, "There isn't a labor shortage. There is a cheap labor shortage."

Others pointed out that In-N-Out Burger and Costco also aren't known to hurt for workers thanks to similar policies and that Dick's has managed to maintain its status as an industry leader in employee compensation for decades.

Critics, however, balked at the idea of paying $20 an hour for fast food work. As one person put it, "You shouldn't make 20 an hour at a job that is intended to be a 16 year old first job. It's a learning experience not a career."

Another figured that Dick's was able to eat the cost of their policies not just because of their customer base, but due to its founding family's status as one of the richest in the area.

h/t: Kiro Radio, Bored Panda