Yesterday, it was discovered that McDonald's basically advised their low-wage employees to sell off Christmas gifts if they want more money. This suggestion came shortly after some Wal-Marts announced food drives...for their employees. We are starting to see a bit of a pattern here. Increasingly, rather than doing the sensible thing and raising worker wages at all to help alleviate poverty, service industry corporations are determined to mitigate the problem through ways that avoid giving them another cent more than they think workers deserve, without much of a reason for it other than pure incompetence.
The average McDonald's worker earns about $7.75 per hour, just 50 cents above minimum wage. The average Wal-Mart worker is not that much more at $8.81 per hour. Wal-Mart claims in its defense that the average full-time worker earns $12.40 per hour, but it does not say how many full-time workers are there, nor how many part-time workers wish to be full-time. In only a few places in the country would a wage of this nature be sustainable to live, even when working full-time.
Granted, the matter of raising worker wages at a universal level is complicated, due to the bureaucratic nature of Wal-Mart and McDonalds, among other corporations. But if the cost of raising workers' wages is an extra nickel for any sandwich, or an extra 46 cents for a pair of a shoes at Wal-Mart, is the difference that much an issue for the people who go there on a day-to-day basis, as some claim? Would Wal-Mart's "competitive edge," which is questionable since in most places it is the only store in town, really be lost by a slight increase in the products it has control over?
Regardless of whether they can or cannot raise workers' wages, McDonald's and Wal-Mart are crass for their actions, whether it is to give advice on selling "unwanted" possessions for extra cash, or conducting food drives for their own employees. In the former case, while the statement is well-meaning in some twisted way, it does not take into account the reasons why workers would want to sell off possessions in the first place. In the latter, Wal-Mart would rather have their own employees subsidize other employees' Thanksgiving meals than give them a little bit more so that they do not need to rely on food drives. Some will argue profit-grabbing, but this is more sheer incompetence at not seeing a problem with doing these things.