Another View: McDonald’s tries to get off cheap

Workers protest for higher wages outside a McDonald’s in Houston this month. More demonstrations are planned Wednesday.
Workers protest for higher wages outside a McDonald’s in Houston this month. More demonstrations are planned Wednesday. Houston Chronicle

McDonald’s corporate spin machine is trying to pull a fast one, touting the company’s announcement of a modest hourly increase for a tiny fraction of workers as real progress (“McDonald’s new pay raise offers workers a break,” Editorials, April 4).

But the facts of the fast food giant’s abysmal relationship with its employees speak for themselves.

McDonald’s wants to have it both ways – claiming corporate credit for a $1 above the minimum wage increase, while distancing the company from responsibility for the poverty conditions for 750,000 employees who work at 12,500 McDonald’s U.S. franchises.

Make no mistake, a modest raise that affects just 10 percent of McDonald’s workforce isn’t about doing what’s right for workers and communities. Instead, it’s a public relations stunt intended to take the heat off the fast-food behemoth as we near Wednesday, when McDonald’s workers will hold a national strike to call for $15 per hour wages and the right to organize.

Sacramento Area Congregations Together believes McDonald’s has a moral obligation to provide its employees with living wages, safe working conditions and fair benefits. Instead, it continues to try to divert attention from a business plan that has kept half of its workers on public assistance and shifted $1 billion in costs onto taxpayers annually.

Community leaders across the nation have joined with the largest service employee union, SEIU, to seek a fair shake for these workers. If you see them out in front of a McDonald’s with a strike sign on Wednesday, just think of what $15 an hour means: $29,000 a year for a 40-hour workweek.

Few workers ever attain full-time status in the fast-food industry, and no one expects luxury living, only a decent shot at providing for their families.

A small wage increase for a limited number of McDonald’s employees is just a single step toward our goal of an economy that offers a chance of security for a good day’s labor.

The next few steps might be uphill, given McDonald’s resistance to our goal of fair wages and providing workers the ability to organize. But momentum is growing for real change.

Valdez Anderson is minister at St. Stephen AME Zion Church in Sacramento and a board member of Sacramento Area Congregations Together.