McDonald’s raises minimum pay at corporate locations as workers in 15 cities plan strikes for $15 hourly wage

Fight For $15 pushing for higher wages as company looks to hire workers in ‘challenging hiring environment’ during pandemic

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 13 May 2021 17:23 BST
CEO who Fox News called 'socialist' for $70k minimum wage

McDonald’s will raise the minimum hourly wage at its corporate-owned restaurants, as fast-food workers in 15 major US cities plan a strike to demand all staff within the company receive at least $15 an hour.

The company announced on Thursday that hourly wages for employees at company-owned locations would rise to $11 to $17, and starting wages for shift managers will be raised to at least $15 to $20 per hour, based on restaurant location.

Employees in a majority of the roughly 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants that are independently owned – not corporate-owned – will not see the wage hikes. The raises will impact workers at roughly 650 restaurants. All company-owned restaurants will average $15 an hour wages by 2024, the company announced.

“Our demands haven’t changed,” said Doneisha Babbit, a McDonald’s worker in St Louis who has organised with the Fight For $15 campaign to push for higher wages, union recognition, paid medical leave and sufficient health protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Clearly, McDonald’s understands that in order to hire and retain talented workers, something needs to change,” she said in a statement. “You’ve called us essential for over a year, but your announcement today proves that you’ve seen us as disposable all along.”

McDonald’s workers in 15 cities plan a strike on 19 May, a before the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

The company is looking to hire 10,000 people over the next three months, as US businesses report a labour shortage with fewer people returning to the workplace or dropping out during the pandemic, while workers and labour groups demand better pay and provisions for childcare in the economic fallout from the public health crisis.

In a message to workers, McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger said the company and its franchisees “face a challenging hiring environment, and staying ahead means we must constantly renew our commitment to offer one of the leading employment packages in the industry.”

Senator Bernie Sanders – who pushed for an amendment in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 by 2025 – said the company is raising wages “because thousands of courageous workers marched in the streets and demanded dignity on the job.”

“But make no mistake, we won’t stop fighting until all of them get $15 an hour and a union,” he said.

The federally set minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. Seven states and Washington DC have passed legislation to raise their minimum wages to $15, but $7.25 an hour remains the minimum wage in 21 other states.

Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Tennessee don’t have a state-set minimum wage, instead relying on the federal rate. Georgia and Wyoming have set their minimum to just $5.15, lower than the federal rate, which applies instead.

The Economic Policy institute has reported that “there is not a county in the US where an individual working full time, year round could achieve a secure standard of living earning less than $15 per hour.”

“Yet since the late 1960s, lawmakers have let the value of the minimum wage erode, allowing inflation to gradually reduce the buying power of a minimum wage income,” the group found.

Chipotle announced on Monday that its workers would receive an average hourly wage of $15, and Costco, the second-largest global retailer behind Walmart, will raise its hourly base wages to $16.

Target and Best Buy also raised their hourly minimums to $15 in 2020, and Amazon raised its minimum hourly wage to $15 in 2018.

Walmart also recently announced that it intends to raise hourly wages to $13 for roughly 425,000 workers, a quarter of its workforce. The company’s current minimum wage is $11.

Joe Biden has signed an executive order to raise the federal minimum hourly wage for federal contract workers to $15 from its current $10.95.

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