18 March 2020

“Unskilled labor does not exist,” observes Lizzie O’Shea: “[RAFFWU’s Josh] Cullinan points out that the modern fast food worker uses skills that are foreign to most workers from generations past. A fast food worker in the average drive-through window will be doing multiple tasks simultaneously. She will take orders from customers via an earpiece, enter them into a program that conveys the orders to the kitchen, collect and hand bags of food to customers, and take payment on electronic systems, all within strict deadlines. On top of this, she is expected to be polite, despite working long shifts that can be physically and emotionally exhausting. … In the same way that care workers are underpaid because they draw on skills that the market has not traditionally valued, the skills required of workers to cope in unskilled jobs are considered unimportant. This framing allows employers to monopolize the gains of intense exploitation and defray the emotional, physical, and spiritual costs of it back onto the workers. … One fact remains undeniable but bears repeating: without the work done by people in unskilled jobs, society would cease to function. … People who stock our supermarket shelves, who help us to access food and clothing, are essential to our survival. … Workers at unskilled jobs deserve solidarity and dignity, and we should support them however we can as they organize to fight for recognition and respect.”