McDonald’s workers to strike for higher wages next week

Dive brief:

  • In a protest against wages, McDonald’s workers in 15 cities plan to strike on May 19, a day before the company’s annual meeting of shareholders, according to Vice. The employees are part of the Fight for $ 15 movement demanding that McDonald’s increase their wages to at least $ 15 an hour.
  • In an emailed statement, McDonald’s said, “Our first responsibility is to work with the restaurant team, and we respect and appreciate their dedication to serving millions of customers every day. It is the responsibility of federal and local governments to set the minimum wage, and we are open to dialogue so that any changes meet the needs of thousands of hard-working restaurant workers as the 2,000 independent McDonald’s owners / operators who run small businesses. . “
  • The strike comes as the restaurant industry faces a massive labor shortage. McDonald’s is one of the many chains that have facilitated hiring events in a offer to add thousands of employees as the segment begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Whataburger, Taco Bell, Sonic and KFC have also made such hiring sprees in recent weeks.

Dive overview:

McDonald’s has become a bigger part of the salary conversation in recent years, which is remarkable as the largest sales chain in the United States and as a primarily franchised restaurant model. In 2019, McDonald’s stopped pushing against federal minimum wage increases.

In January, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors the company was doing “very well” in the 29 states that had raised wages, and an analysis by a team of economists found wages higher. high levels have not led to closures, job losses or increased chain automation.

In its first quarter earnings call on April 29, Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s in the United States, said the company “was working on [its] Company-owned restaurants can be similar in terms of wages and compensation. “

But the company has also been criticized for its approach to pay increases. Although McDonald’s has announced that it will stop pressuring Congress against federal salary increases, for example, the company is still part of the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association, which continue to lobby against an increase in the federal minimum wage, according to Vice. In February, the NRA wrote that the wage increase law was “the wrong proposition at the wrong time for the restaurant industry.”

Also, in February, Vice reported that McDonald’s monitor employees’ social media to see if they are active in the Fight for $ 15 campaign. McDonald’s called the report “inaccurate and misleading.”

Other chains have pledged a salary of $ 15, including Starbucks and as of this week, Chipotle announced that he will increase his average hourly wage from $ 13 to $ 15. These two channels are 100% owned by the company, giving them full control over these decisions, regardless of the market. Conversely, McDonald’s is around 93% franchisee, which places work decisions in the hands of its independent owners / operators. This adds complexities based on market conditions and disparate profit margins.

Still, a franchise model won’t matter if President Joe Biden’s goal of increasing the minimum wage to $ 15 by 2025 materializes. It doesn’t seem to matter to the employees either. As a McDonald’s employee told Vice, the company made $ 5 billion in profit last year and doesn’t have to wait for legislation to increase wages.

Employee strikes in the quick service segment are nothing new. The Fight for $ 15 movement was created in 2012 and facilitated several events of this type across the country and the globe since. The wage debate is intensifying as 29 states and Washington, DC, have now voluntarily exceeded the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 put in place in 2009. This debate, however, came to a head during the pandemic, as QSR workers were deemed essential and at high risk. to contract COVID-19.

As such, employees have filed a slew of OSHA complaints related to COVID-19 and several strikes have taken place. throughout the past year demand that this essential status be accompanied by higher salaries.

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