McDonald’s Employees: Not Lovin’ It

By: Victoria Stubbolo

McDonalds, one of the worlds biggest and most popular restaurant chains, has come under fire yet again.  The corporation, which by virtue of its worldwide notoriety is no stranger to controversy, is finding itself in the hot-seat again.  Workers all over the country are bringing suit against McDonalds for being idled without pay when work slackens in violation of the federal and state labor laws.[1]  Lawyers on behalf of the workers are calling this flagrant oversight in pay a “wage theft”. [2]

Additionally, employees of Detroit McDonalds have more egregious claims of wage deflation against the fast food conglomerate.  In addition to not being paid during times that managers deem to be overstaffed, the employees are also mandated to purchase their own uniforms.[3]  This mandate pushes their wages below the legal minimum wage, especially when combined with the seemingly arbitrary overstaff provision, stalling pay.[4]  The federally required minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, with some states mandating a higher minimum.[5]

Dozens of protests were planned in thirty cities across the country.[6]  Some of the more colorful protests, occurring in New York, had a Ronald McDonald being “arrested” while other protestors shouted, “every nickel, every dime, we deserve our overtime.”[7]

While McDonalds has pledged to thoroughly look into these allegations, it does bring forth a good issue to the national stage, the current state of minimum wage employees.[8]  McDonald’s recently released its own sample budget based on minimum wage pay, which came under severe scrutiny.[9]  Among many other assumptions that the economists behind this “proposed minimum-wage budget” took, was that the employees in question would have two jobs.[10] What started out as an apparent good-will project to help its employees live a budget-friendly lifestyle based on minimum wage, quickly highlighted the glaring oversights in the purported notion of one being able to survive on a minimum wage job.[11] While the actual monetary value of hourly pay is low enough to warrant concern given the cost of living, there is also the added problem of the insufficiency of hours being offered for these minimum wage workers to actually work.[12]

President Obama is pushing for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.[13]  Looking to McDonald’s as just one example of the overt unsustainability of minimum wage job to foster the ever-increasing cost of living, one can easily discern that a change needs to be made.  The federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour, has been stagnant since July 2009.[14]  With startling statistics being released bringing to light the notion that, on average, a minimum-wage employee must work jobs in order to afford a decent 2-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30% of their income, it is clear that a change has to come about. The current plan that is laid out in the Miller- Harkins Bill, which is before Congress, brings about Obama’s desired minimum wage increase in three annual steps.[15]  Unfortunately, the current gridlock that has been plaguing Washington does not bode well for an effective compromise towards a higher federal minimum wage.

 

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-13/mcdonald-s-sued-with-franchisee-by-workers-making-claims-on-pay.html

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/03/18/mcdonalds-reviews-wage-theft-claims-as-workers-in-30-cities-protest-for-overtime-pay/

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/07/19/how-she-lives-on-minimum-wage-one-mcdonalds-workers-budget/

[10] Id.

[11] See id.

[12] See id.

[13] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-13/mcdonald-s-sued-with-franchisee-by-workers-making-claims-on-pay.html

[14] http://www.dol.gov/whd/minimumwage.htm

[15] http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/03/21/increasing-the-minimum-wage-not-perfect-but-useful-step/6698247/

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