Friday, June 1, 2012

Tim Hortons pays workers a living wage, people upset

From the National Post:
Taxpayers are subsidizing the shortfall at the hospital’s three kiosks featuring Tim Hortons — one of the most successful restaurant chains in Canada — largely because the coffee-pourers are well-paid CAW workers.

Windsor Regional Hospital servers make about $26 an hour — $20 in wages, the rest in benefits. At regular Tim Hortons outlets, which are typically profitable, wages vary. One employee told The Star she started at the Ontario minimum wage of $10.25 an hour.

I've seen a lot of articles headlining the fact that the people working at the Tim Hortons locations in this hospital are earning $26 an hour. This is quite biased against the workers. Their actual wage, as stated in the above quote, is $20 per hour; the additional $6 is the value placed on the benefits those workers receive.

The locations are operating at a loss, and the hospital is having budget problems as a result. (I also doubt that Tim Hortons is the only reason why the hospital has budget problems.) The blame is being pinned on the people working at the Tim Hortons, however, and I don't think that's fair. Those workers are being paid a living wage; why do so many people see that as a problem?

Are they being paid more than the average Tim Hortons worker? Yes, absolutely. The problem, however, is that the average Tim Hortons worker is underpaid, especially considering how physically taxing their job can be. I've worked at Tim Hortons, and it hurts!  The people who own Tim Hortons can make huge profits, and those profits are made on the backs of their underpaid workers. It saddens me that people are complaining about the wages of the Tim Hortons employees at Windsor Regional Hospital when the real problem is that their work is horrifically undervalued. It also completely ignores the fact that the losses experienced by those locations might have causes other than the wages of its employees. Why is no one considering that?

The average Tim Hortons worker, and those working similar jobs, does not earn a living wage. This is a serious problem, especially if the government follows though on its proposed Employment Insurance changes and forces more people into those jobs. (The idea that I might have no choice but to work at my local Tim Hortons again actually scares me.) The obvious solution is to increase minimum wage, but this all too often just leads to an increase in the cost of living (because heaven forbid businesses take a small cut in profits rather than raise prices on the goods and services they offer). I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that attitudes of the people who wrote that National Post article I linked to above, and similar articles, needs to change before a solution can be found. People earning a living wage should be something to strive for, not a cause for so much criticism.

The hospital could hire as many as five more registered nurses with the money their Tim Hortons loses every year. However, is giving the 40 or so Tim Hortons workers a living wage such a bad trade-off?

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