News flash, people. McDonalds doesn't care if you make a living wage. They only care about making a profit. But the real news flash? The SEIU cares even less if you make a living wage. All they care about is collecting your union dues. You can help yourself more by helping your employer make a profit than by helping some union steal part of your pay for union dues.
You want more money? Make yourself more valuable to your employer. It's that simple. Learn to be a fry cook instead of an order-taker. Come up with ideas on how to improve the business and share them with your manager. Take an interest in the operation as more than the source of a paycheck. Management will notice, and they will remember when an opportunity for advancement comes up.
Managers are people, just like you, and they appreciate all the help they can get. You're in the business you're in together. Don't let a union turn you against each other. And allowing a union to price you out of the labor market you're in will only price you out of a job. In order to get ahead, you've got to move up into a labor market in which employers are willing to pay more.
Unions are not interested in the advancement of their members. If their members ever advanced, they'd stop paying union dues, and the collection of union dues is the reason the union exists. Unions are interested only in mollifying their members by pressing ever more profit out of employees, until they force GM to move to Canada, Ford to move to Mexico, and Detroit to become a ghost town of rusting factories, abandoned supermarkets, and boarded up businesses.
In one respect, businesses have only themselves to blame for unions. American business has traditionally treated labor as a commodity, rather than a partner. American companies could take a lesson from Japanese companies, where employees are furnished with dormitories for single employees and housing for married employees, company commissaries, lessons (for female employees) in flower arranging and tea ceremony, marriage and family counseling, and a host of other amenities all paid for by the company.
This system is, of course, an outgrowth of the zaibatsu structure of Japanese business and of the Confucian structure of Japanese culture, and it would be unrealistic to expect American companies to duplicate it. The basic concept of partnership, however, would be well adopted by the American business community.
Imagine a company sponsored union – one that would train employees not only in the skills required to do their jobs better, but in the skills required to move upward in the company. Imagine a union that would offer all employees the opportunity to invest financially in company stock and to contribute to the company's direction through employee stockholder's meetings and through employee-management seminars. Imagine a union that brings labor and management together in a company partnership and provides every member of the team – from janitor to CEO – with an incentive to work together toward a common goal.
This is the zaibatsu concept – the concept of universal participation in and universal profit from a joint effort to deploy the assets of the company in the most profitable direction. Yes, such a system would represent additional costs to the company, but the returns in productivity would more than offset the costs.
And in any case, it would be cheaper than a strike.