In what is being called the biggest fast food strike in history, disgruntled employees are asking for $15 hourly wages and the right to unionize.
The air in various cities across the world has been resonating with slogans along the lines of "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize."
According to Jessica Davis, an employee who makes a meager $8.98 an hour, "We cannot survive on poverty wages. We need our wages to be increased and we need a union to have protection in the workplace and take care of our families."
"McDonald's is my only job. It's really hard taking care of two children and paying the bills," she added.
28-year-old Amanda Wenninghoff earns $8 an hour and hasn’t had a wage raise since 2003.
“I have lived in my car with my kids because I haven’t had the wages to support a place for us to live,” she said. “I have friends who need life-saving surgery they can’t afford.”
She added,“It would be impossible for me to get by without government assistance.”
“The least they can do is pay us enough money so we can afford to live instead of putting it on the taxpayers.”
Another disgruntled worker, Ashona Osborne, makes $7.25 an hour and said her wages had been cut since she started to protest.
“I need better support for me and my family,” she said. “It’s not just McDonald’s, I have been working on minimum wage since I was 16 and it’s very, very difficult. I have decide which priority to take care of, which bill can I pay.”
McDonald's, on the other hand, says it can’t do much as"80% of its restaurants are independently-owned and operated by small business owners". It maintains that the wages are often set by local market conditions.
"When it comes to the minimum wage, that's a national discussion," said a spokeswoman for the company. "It's not a McDonald's issue, it's an economic issue. We'll look to the folks in Washington to determine what happens."
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McDonald’s owns over 1,400 restaurants in the US, while about 12,000 are operated by franchisees.
The fast food giant’s CEO Don Thompson, on the other hand, says the company has a history of providing job opportunities that lead to "real careers," adding, "We believe we pay fair and competitive wages."
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability International, a public health and human rights watchdog, doesn’t buy it at all, pointing out that the company spends billions on marketing “to hook more kids on junk food and increase executive compensation, many of your employees can barely make ends meet on poverty wages.”
Wages in the fast food industry are low. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average fast food employee in America makes about $9.08 an hour, or $18,880 a year.
McDonald’s is not the only culprit, but the way it deals with the employees’ very justified demands is pathetic and shows blatant lack of concern.
Last year, McDonald's advised its low-wage employees to sell off Christmas gifts if they wanted more money.
In their bid to do something productive, McDonaldscreated an online budget tool for its low-income workers to help manage their finances. It had to include a second job which brings in 46% of the employee’s total income to make this picture something less than ugly.
Apparently McDonalds will go to any lengths to prove how things are not ‘that bad’ for its workers and not raise their salaries. It is quite simply shameful.