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Newson signs law putting burger flippers on same pay footing as entry level teachers
Correct Dennis Wyatt mug 2022
Dennis Wyatt

The average salary for an entry teacher in California is $46,611.

It is something the California Legislature has almost 100 percent control over.

That’s because the state — and not local school districts — determines school funding.

Keep that in mind the next time you step into Mickey D’s or whatever place is your favorite fast food poison.

That’s because with several strokes of a pen on Labor Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom set the stage for a fast food worker to be paid a minimum of $22 an hour.

Newsom did it by signing the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act. It creates a Fast Food Council consisting of labor and management representatives.

The board will set minimum standards for the 500,000 plus fast food workers in California. That includes the ability to take minimum wage for fast food workers up to $22 an hour.

That’s almost 50 percent higher than the current minimum wage in California.

What the governor is saying — as well as his political colleagues in the California Legislature who crafted and passed the bill — is that a teacher isn’t worth paying much more than a fast food worker.

Do the math.

At $22 an hour, if a fast food worker clocked a 40-hour work week for a year they’d earn $45,760 on an annual basis.

 That’s just $861 less a year than the salary for an average entry level teacher in California.

The average $46,6111 entry level teacher salary is based on the latest figures from that gleans human resources department data from all schools in California, public and private. The salary range, according to the site, is $38,931 to $56,831.

The latest California Department of Education website on its Cal Ed Facts page for the beginning average salary of a teacher in a school district of less than 1,000 students placed the figure at $47,265 based on 2019-2022 data.

Even so, that teacher who had to pass more than a TB test — they also need five years of college education and must past the California Basic Education Skills Test before they can work — is earning just under $2,000 more of the new ceiling the state has authorized for fast food workers.

Let that sink in.

An 18-year-old can walk off the street, put on a smock, and flip burgers and have the potential to make $45,760 a year doing so.

Meanwhile the people we entrust to teach kids including that 18-year-old have to go to college five years and pay for their education. And then, if they pass a rigid exam and do student teaching they can then earn an average of $46,611 a year.

Making this all the more ironic is the legislature — and governor — are the ones that have the biggest say in what teachers make based on how much money they divert to local schools.

You will notice in the past year when they were carving up billions upon billions in unexpected state revenue, Newsom and lawmakers did not try to elevate the pay and welfare of teachers much beyond “the formula” that is already in place.

They might argue that every teacher would need to make significantly more if the pay of beginning teachers were upped making such a gesture cost prohibitive. True. But that is the same for the private sector as well.

Yes, teachers have better benefits and retirement. But that won’t be forever if the Fast Food Council goes where the authors and supporters of the legislation hopes it does.

It also shoots a hole in a time-honored exercise that some high school instructors teaching basic economics employ to get students to think long-range and pursue post-secondary education.

It’s the one where a kid lands a job at a fast food restaurant at minimum wage. As the teen’s minds fills up with all of the stuff they can buy with that money, the teacher brings them down to earth.

They point out things such as the need to pay for housing, a car, insurance, food, clothing, utilities, and diversions.

It become clear quickly that a fast food job doesn’t open the door to opportunity. Community college, trade school, a four-year college or the military become better options than flipping burgers.

Now an entry level teacher doing such an exercise would be no better off than their wide-eyed students thinking about their first paycheck.

Except there is a big difference. Using just tuition and books at a California State University campus the teacher will have had to spend over $60,000 upfront in order to make the same pay as a teen walking into McDonald’s could at $22 an hour.

Perhaps this is Newsom’s way of reducing pressure on the state’s higher education system. Making it clear a five-year degree out of the gate earns you the same amount of money as an entry level burger flipper is a real incentive killer for going to college.

Overtime, teachers can clearly make more if they continue their education.

That said, it is a clear message of the worth the jobs teachers are doing based on pay.

Only in Gavin’s World is an entry level burger flipper worth the same as an entry level teacher.

Yes, no one expects all food workers will work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

But that may not be so in the future.

Everyone likes pointing to fast food jobs as being temporary or are the first jobs most people hold.

However, if the state-formed Fast Food Council changes that dynamics with the imposition of wages up to $22 an hour plus mandatory benefits, the fast food industry will change.

Yes, there will be more automation.

The real problem is they will be forced to price things more in line with casual or even traditional sit-down dining in order to cover their biggest expense which is employee costs.

It stands to reason fast food operators in order to survive will zero in on a handful of workers that deliver for them to wed with stepped up automation.

If you’re saddled with a $22 an hour wage for everyone plus benefits as will, you will cull the herd.

It becomes worth it to have full-time people that are 100 percent reliable and are the hardest, most productive, and most pleasant workers than it is to have a small army with many on the other end of the spectrum.

Jobs will disappear but not the way people imagine with automation.

Instead of having two of three part-time workers per each full-time equivalent it would make better business sense in terms of customer service and retention to find the “stars” and give them 40 hours a week.

That means good-bye entry level jobs.

No big deal. The State of California will just expend its welfare payments as the legislature keeps adding more “councils” with statewide control over for various industries.

It worked beautifully for that utopia of yesteryear known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.