Local McDonald’s workers deny ‘McJob’ stereotype

When Gerry Murphy was entering his sophomore year of college, he decided to find a part-time job at McDonald’s to help pay for his gasoline, as many teenagers do. It’s been 40 years now and Murphy has owned 30 McDonald’s restaurants across Alabama.

He sees himself as proof that “the McJob” is a myth.

“The good thing about McDonald’s is that it can be a job or a career. For me it ended up being a career, ”said Murphy. “The perception of ‘McJob’ is unfortunate, as McDonald’s has opened doors for hundreds of thousands of people who have made a career out of it and have been able to support their families.”

Coined in 1986 by a headline in the Washington Post, the term refers to low-paid, low-skilled work that offers few opportunities for promotion. McDonald’s has been fighting the stereotype ever since.

Yet Murphy and his employees regularly see the misconception.

“I think we’ve been given the stigma of ‘dead end job’ or ‘burger freakin’,” Murphy said. “But people make careers and lives and get pretty rich doing a business like this.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington works at the drive-thru window during a press conference at McDonalds on the Atlanta Highway in Montgomery, Alabama on Monday, October 18, 2021.

Entry-level jobs at local McDonald’s offer a starting salary of around $ 10 an hour, the opportunity to earn tuition assistance after 90 days on the job, and the opportunity to earn paid time off.

Andrea Johnson, general manager of a local McDonald’s, said she takes pride in her job as she is able to support herself while attending college online. But she often feels like people are cutting back on her job just because he’s in the fast food restaurant business.

“A lot of people think it’s just burgers and fries,” Johnson said. “You have to understand that we give breakfast to the mother who goes to work and who is probably not able to eat at home. We have whole families who come to dinner because there is nothing else they can do.

Johnson has been with the company since 2002, and she has slowly transitioned from being a cashier. During nearly two decades at McDonald’s, she said she gained confidence in herself and her abilities.

“I learned about customer service, how to make sure customers come in and leave happy. I learned to train my team members and I also developed my managerial skills, ”she said.

McDonald’s also offered him $ 3,000 in tuition aid through his Archways of Opportunity program, so Johnson was recently able to start pursuing a college education online through the University of Colorado.

Murphy said he believes sharing stories like his and Andrea’s is the only way to change the public’s misconception about fast food jobs.

This week, McDonald’s announced that it hopes to hire more than 800 workers at its restaurants in the Montgomery metro area during the holidays. In May, the fast food chain made a similar announcement of 1,500 jobs in Montgomery and 3,000 statewide.

Adding jobs:Waiter food delivery service wants to hire 200 more drivers in Montgomery

The question that remains, however, is whether there are 800 workers at Montgomery ready to fill these positions.

“We know there are a lot of job seekers looking for opportunities,” Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. “It would be a great opportunity for these job seekers not only to get a job, but also to land a rewarding career.”

Owner / Operator Gerry Murphy introduces Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington during a press conference at McDonalds on Atlanta Highway in Montgomery, Alabama on Monday, October 18, 2021.

Alabama currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, 3.1%, while the national rate is 5.2%. However, Alabama has a low participation rate of 56.6%. This means that nearly half of the state’s working-age population is both unemployed and not actively seeking employment.

Still, Washington said the state is in a “very good position right now” in terms of economic recovery from the pandemic.

Economic perspective:Executives optimistic about Montgomery’s future ahead of $ 85 million boost

“Our unemployment rate is currently the lowest since the start of the pandemic,” he said. “However, there is always an opportunity for us to do better, and hiring events will help raise awareness of where these available jobs are. “

Hadley Hitson covers rural South for Montgomery Advertiser and Report for America. She can be reached at [email protected]

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