Cartoonist A.F. Branco published a cartoon titled “Minimum Wage Rage” for the Liberty Alliance organization in 2013 that depicts a man ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant. He is complaining about the high price of a hamburger meal to the cashier. The cashier notes that although the price is high, at least he, the cashier, is making fifteen dollars per hour. There is another worker in the background upset that he was just laid off from his job.
This cartoon is about the protests that began in 2013 in the United States regarding the minimum wage. The United States minimum wage was set at $7.25 in 2009. Americans have found that this hourly wage, which many are forced to live off, is insufficient. Minimum wage workers work on average 40 hours a week (“What are the Annual Earnings”). This pay translates to $290 a week (based off of the federal minimum wage) not including taxes. With roughly 4 weeks in each month, the average worker makes a little more than $1,000 a month. This is where problems arise. The average rent in the United States is about $1,200 a month (Glink, “Top 10 Cheapest Cities”). The average worker cannot afford this based on their pay. This is rent alone. Then the cost of food and travel expenses must be accounted for. As a result of this, workers are protesting to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.
As of 2013, the poverty rate in the United States was approximately 14.5 percent (DeNavas-Walt and Bernadette, “Income and Poverty”). In 2016, the United States poverty rate featured a decline to 12.5 percent (Semega, Fontenot, and Kollar, “United States: 2016). However, despite this obvious decline, living conditions worsen and inflation causes prices to rise for the United States in 2017. Many working class citizens survive off of government issued food discounts and healthcare. The citizens that find themselves in poverty cannot find a way out with current wages (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). Minimum wage workers cannot keep up and demand for wage increases. Labor unions have taken it upon themselves to protest major corporations in hopes that one might listen. In May of 2017, hundreds of fast food workers marched outside the headquarters of fast food giant McDonald’s Corp (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). This protest is just one of many and the labor unions across the United States are not going to stop.
Protests against major corporations have been occurring for decades. In 1937-1938, situations for workers were similar back then to how they are now in the United States from 2013-2017. In 1937, workers were underpaid and congregated into unions to fight for a better work environment as well as benefits. John Knott, a political cartoonist, in 1937 produced several cartoons depicting the struggles workers had to face. He drew one cartoon in particular titled “Chronic Disease” that is similar to A.F. Branco’s cartoon “Minimum Wage Rage.”
John Knott depicts the United States crisis regarding labor unions and striking in a cartoon titled “Chronic Disease” for the Dallas Morning News published on March 23, 1937. The image shows a man sitting hunched over with his hands on either side of his face. He appears very burly and very defeated. He has the word “labor” printed across his shirt sleeve. Behind him is a woman wearing an apron. She is on the telephone and has the word “public” printed on her apron. She is speaking into the telephone. Her quotation bubble reads, “Is this Dr. Roosevelt?” The cartoon demonstrates the disparity between government action and the labor unions in that the President Roosevelt banned sit down striking and the labor unions were highly upset.
The cartoon depicting the fast food workers connects very easily to John Knott’s cartoon. Both demonstrate the effects of the government action on the working class. In Knott’s cartoon, the government restricts the working class by banning sit down strikes and in Branco’s cartoon the government restricts the working class by having a low minimum wage.
A.F. Branco’s cartoon depicts the struggle minimum wage workers and labor unions have had against the government in attempting to raise the minimum wage in the 2013-2017 era.
Chiarito, Bob. “Hundreds protest over minimum wage at McDonald’s stockholder meeting.” Reuters, 24 May, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-wages-protest/hundreds-protest-over-minimum-wage-at-mcdonalds-stockholder-meeting-idUSKBN18K2EB
DeNavas-Walt, Carmen and Proctor D. Bernadette. “Income and Poverty in the United States in the United States: 2013.” Census,16 Sept. 2014, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.html
Glink, Ilyce. “Top 10 cheapest U.S. cities to rent an apartment.” Cbsnews. 20 July. 2013, https://www.cbsnews.com/media/top-10-cheapest-us-cities-to-rent-an-apartment/.
Semega, Jessica L, Fontenot, Kayla R., and Melissa A. Kollar. “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016.” Census, 12 Sept. 2017,
“What are the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker?” ucdavis, 30 Aug. 2016, https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-are-annual-earnings-full-time-minimum-wage-worker.