The fight over wages for McDonald’s workers has intensified in recent months and it’s only getting more heated now that lawsuits in California, New York and Michigan allege that the fast-food chain used all sorts of short cuts to short change employees. That includes making employees pay for their own uniforms in some places and making them wait before checking in and out of their shifts.
Add to that ongoing protests and you’ve got a situation that the chain would like to see go away.
The employee uprising has been going on now for months. And perhaps, McDonald’s thought it would eventually quiet down and things could go back to business as usual. After all, the argument against higher wages (remember, protesters are looking for as much as $15 per hour) is that it would drive up prices. And no one wants to pay more for their Big Macs and those fries.
But it’s gotten to the point where McDonald’s is giving off the air of being selfish and cruel in the ways it’s taking advantage of its workers.
We started hearing stories about how this company that makes billions in profits tells its workers to apply for food stamps if they’re having trouble putting food on their own tables. And then break the food they buy with those food stamps into pieces so workers can trick their stomachs into thinking that they’re full. Add that to the allegations in the aforementioned lawsuits and McDonald’s starts to look like a bully.
Now President Obama is pressing for measures that will increase wages for low earners. That includes a push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and the President’s push to change rules that would make more people eligible for overtime pay. Public policy is shifting to the side of the workers.
And workers are using language, like “wage theft,” that makes McD’s look like a company full of Hamburglars.
If all of that isn’t enough, protesters who rallied in cities across the country yesterday confronted managers and others who, according to Reuters, explained that they don’t have the authority to address their concerns. Having angry people marching into and in front of their restaurants also impacts the relationship the company has with its franchisees and others who don’t have a problem with their wages.
Recognizing that things are getting pretty bad, the company has submitted SEC filings that indicate they will raise wages.
“McDonald’s sky-is-falling pronouncements around worker pay ring increasingly off-pitch. Though it professes concern about inequality, with its low pay and unpredictable scheduling, McDonald’s is the one that’s making things worse,” Arun Ivatury, a campaign strategist from the National Employment Law Project writes on The Huffington Post.
McDonald’s reputation is taking a beating in all of this. In the end, paying higher wages would be a win-win for everyone.