Part of the problem is that fast food jobs are heavily monopolized by teenage and young adult workers. The jobs are a pitstop on the journey towards a future different career for most. An increase in wages might make some of these workers consider a longer career in fast food, thus foregoing a college education if they could easily earn over $30,000 a year flipping burgers. But that is likely not a major concern. Those who want to go to college will probably go even with much better fast food wages.
But there are people who choose to make fast food a lifelong career. After all, free or greatly reduced priced meals on every shift is not a bad perk! For the lifers, shouldn't they be provided a salary that at least gets them above the poverty level? Would it really hurt the billion dollar owners and millionaire leaders of these establishments to share the wealth with their most loyal employees? Many would argue that it would not be unreasonable to offer the $8 per hour wages to the teenagers and young adults who are short-timers, while offering more substantial wages to those who have been with the establishment 5+ years and intend to make fast food work their career.
Therein lies the problem. Most of the wealthy owners and leaders of these establishments will not voluntarily increase the average pay of their loyal employees by such a margin. And if they did, the likely ramification would be either higher prices, lower quality products, or both. If wages almost double, would a "value meal" have to cost a not-so-valuably-priced $10 so the company can recoup its profit? Instead of the meat byproducts currently used by some companies, would they start serving byproducts of meat byproducts instead so that the reduction in costs can counter the increase in wages?
Maybe this is much ado about nothing. Or maybe this is the sign of the times, given this strike comes directly after the Walmart strikes over Thanksgiving. Are low wage workers now fed up and demanding fair wages for the valuable services they render? Will the fast food companies really engage in wage negotiations with these strikers, or simply hire the countless other people knockiTime will tell...