Weston Wendy's reopens day after employee walkout - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Weston Wendy's reopens day after employee walkout

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WESTON, Wis. (WAOW) -

Workers headed back to Wendy's in Weston Friday, a day after they walked out demanding a "liveable wage."

The walkout forced the restaurant to close down for the day. A sign was left on the door that said, "due to this corporation's refusal to pay a living wage and deal with problems before it's too late, the employees you would have dealt with today have all walked off the job. We wish you the very best."

Derek Heikkinen, a member of the North Central Workforce Development Board, said he isn't surprised something like this happened.

"Obviously higher wages are a good thing," Heikkinen said. "But you don't want rapid inflation in certain areas or industry sectors cause that drives economic inflation across the board."

One barrier to higher wages is the national labor shortage.

"The US economy is going to be 18 million skilled workers short of demand by 2020, and this shortage is going to last globally until about 2050," Heikkinen said.

Here in Wisconsin, however, many of the high paying positions have already been filled. "The unemployment rate is right around 3 percent for this area and dropping, so what that means is any time you're less than 5 percent, you're basically full employment, and there's really not much out there," Heikkinen said. 

In order to avoid wage inflation, Heikkinen said employers are trying to make the workplace more appealing in ways besides higher pay.

"Businesses are trying to get more creative with ways that they can compete just not with benefits," Heikkinen said. "So maybe it's more flexible with time, or more flexible schedules, eliminating weekends or less hours or better benefits or on-sight health care, daycare, things like that to try and attract people."

Heikkinen also said the current living wage in Wausau is about $12.85, meaning one person without kids can live paycheck to paycheck and not qualify for federal or state assistance.

The marquee outside the Weston Wendy's is advertising a job fair on Wednesday.

News 9 reached out to Wendy's and has not received a call back. 

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