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McDonald's Announces Pay Increase For Some of Its Workers

By aaroncynic in Food on Apr 1, 2015 9:25PM

(Photo: aaroncynic/Chicagoist)

[UPDATE BELOW] McDonald’s announced today it would raise wages by $1.00 and offer benefits to some 90,000 employees at company-owned restaurants. Beginning July 1, starting wages for U.S. restaurants will be $1.00 an hour above whatever the local minimum wage is set at, for an average of about $9.90 an hour. In addition, both full and part time employees of the fast food behemoth will be eligible to accrue paid personal time off. The company also plans to expand its “Archways to Education” program to include free high school completion and college tuition assistance.

“We’ve been working on a comprehensive benefits package for our employees— the people who bring our brand to life for customers every day in our U.S. restaurants,” said McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook in a press release. “We’ve listened to our employees and learned that— in addition to increased wages— paid personal leave and financial assistance for completing their education would make a real difference in their careers and lives.”

The New York Times reports the decision does not affect McDonald’s franchise employees, which number about 750,000, but it could have an impact on owners, particularly at stores that have seen demonstrations.

Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, a non-profit group that advocates on behalf of low wage workers had faint praise for the company and credited the hundreds of demonstrations that have taken place across the country. In a press release, Owens said:

"Today’s pay announcement is just the most recent response of a major national corporation to the courageous organizing of workers across the country, who have engaged in walk-outs, strikes and protests, sometimes facing retaliation and arrest, to call attention to substandard workplace practices at McDonald’s and elsewhere in the low wage economy.”

Still, the slight bump in minimum wage falls short of the more substantial pay increase workers have been fighting for and Owens said the company has much further to go. "McDonald’s action falls far short of what is needed to make sure fast food jobs provide a decent living for the men and women who work in them. It leaves out hundreds of thousands of McDonald’s workers at franchises, most of whom are adults and many of whom are trying to support families on poverty wages and inadequate hours.”

Update, 4:50 p.m.: Workers involved with the Fight For 15 movement, which is planning a global mass demonstration on April 15, were also not impressed by the company’s meager offering. “Is this an April Fools' Day joke?” asked Justin Javin Johnson, a 21-year-old employee who makes $7.60 an hour at a franchise store in St. Louis, Missouri. “After two years of campaigning, McDonald's raises wages for less than 10% of their workers and only 10% of the way toward a living wage?”

Kwanza Brooks, a 38-year-old employee who makes $7.25 an hour at a corporate store in Charlotte, North Carolina called the move a “PR stunt.” “Let me be clear," said Brooks, “Raising wages only a little— only for a small fraction of your workers— isn’t change. It won’t get my landlord off my back. And it won’t help me sleep better tonight.”