McDonald’s Caves to Fair-Pay Pressure, But Does The Move Go Far Enough?

The move looks good but won't affect the vast majority of employees.

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In response to mounting pressure, McDonald’s announced on Wednesday that it plans to raise wages and offer more benefits to the 90,000 employees who work at the 1,500 stores the company owns and operates in the US.

The pay increase will take effect on July 1, and will elevate wages to a dollar more per hour than local minimum wage. New employee benefits include incentives to earn high school diplomas and the ability to accrue paid time off.

Steve Easterbrook, who has been CEO of McDonald’s for a month, said in a statement:

“We know that a motivated work force leads to better customer service, so we believe this initial step not only benefits our employees, it will improve McDonald’s restaurant experience.”

This news may seem like a game-changer at first glance, but because 90% of McDonald’s employees work at franchise restaurants not directly owned by the corporation, all of this only actually applies to roughly 10% of McDonald’s workers.

Considering chain’s sales slide and all the protests/social media shaming required to spur action in the first place, the move begins to seem a little less revolutionary and a little more reactionary (reminiscent of the company’s decision to somewhat-grudgingly pay SXSW performers only after an internet uproar…but on a much larger scale).

While we can hardly ignore that this is a major step in the right direction for the company — which has been trying to sell a “responsible global citizen” message lately — it seems like the Golden Arches update won’t be comprehensive or generous enough to quell the tide of fair-pay protesters who still plan on striking in 200 cities on April 15.