The recent announcement by McDonald’s that they would increase their minimum wage for restaurant employees was initially met with celebration by many. After years of protests and demonstrations arguing for higher pay, employees seemed to have finally won the battle with the golden arches and been awarded the higher pay they had been fighting for.
However, while “McDonald’s raises wages” makes an exciting headline for its employees to read, the fine print and details of the agreement are much less satisfying for many. The wage boost will only be in effect for employees of corporate-owned store locations. Those working for stores owned and operated by franchisees are not guaranteed the same raise. In addition, the raise itself amounts to $1 more per hour, whereas many employees were demanding a $2 per hour wage increase, or even wages exceeding $10 per hour. Julia Andino, a McDonald’s employee living and working in New York, is one of many employees who are calling for $15 an hour as the base wage for employees of McDonald’s and many other retailers.
Many retailers and restaurants have given in to the demands of protesters over the past several months, with many increasing their minimum wages to over $9 an hour compared to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The raises made by McDonald’s are expected to only affect 90,000 of its employees nationwide, while 750,000 employees of franchisees will see no pay increase.
While many of the protesters adhere to the claim that they are not currently earning “livable wages,” it seems many employees fail to recognize the implications of their demands. Many workers only have part-time employment and are calling for higher wages so that they are able to support themselves with their current hours. However, many fast food employees are also customers of fast food restaurants, and unaware of the effect that higher wages will have on prices for themselves as consumers. While the record profits being earned by fast food restaurants are cited as justification for why workers should receive better pay, the reality is that consumers will most likely bear the brunt of the burden of increased wages.
While there are moral implications with the idea of a livable wage for fast food restaurant employees, I believe the issue boils down to a simple question: do you think that fast food restaurant employees deserve to be paid $15 an hour for their work?