McDonald’s Tactic of Minimally Raising Workers’ Wages Insults A 2 Year Protest

US fast food workers are typically paid the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. At $7.25 an hour, a worker putting in a 40 hour work week, without missing one week or hour of work all year, would earn $1,160 dollars a month or $13,920 a year. McDonald’s is also accused of hiring two part time workers in place of one full time employee in order to avoid paying health insurance and benefits. In return for these low wages, McDonald’s brought in 4.76 billion dollars in net profit in 2014.

For the past two years, fast food workers have been campaigning for higher wages. The national campaign “Fight for $15.00” has been focused on achieving a $15.00 an hour wage. $15.00 an provides workers with a $2,400 a month or $28,800 a year wage. Despite worker demands, McDonald’s announced they will raise certain workers wages $1.00 above the federally mandated minimum wage and offer paid vacation time.

The immediate impact of McDonald’s announcement will be limited. Roughly 90% of McDonald’s restaurants are owned privately through franchises, with the remaining 10% owned by the corporation itself. McDonald’s franchise owners are currently free to determine their own wages and benefits, despite what the McDonald’s Corporation does for the employees of the corporate owned stores. The new announcement applies only to the workers’ employed with the McDonald’s Corporation stores, meaning the increase applies immediately to less than 10% of all employees of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s tactics may pressure the franchise owners to follow suit for other McDonald’s employees. An increase in costs for the franchise owners may result in franchise owners raising the price of menu items. This in turn would benefit the McDonald’s corporation because franchise owners pay a fee to the corporation based on a percentage of sales.

McDonald’s is feeling pressure from the corporation shareholders for increased profits. In 2012 the company reported a net profit of 5.46 billion and in 2013 the company saw a net profit of 5.59 billion. Given the 2014 net profit of 4.76 billion, McDonald’s in under pressure for better results. This pressure often results in employers cutting corners and violating wage and hour laws.

McDonald’s employees across several states have also recently filed more than two dozen safety complaints against McDonald’s regarding unsafe working conditions. Over the past two weeks, employees from 28 restaurants have filed complaints with the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The complaints allege safety violations ranging from a lack of safety gear to demands by employers to clean excessively hot oil, resulting in burn injuries.

Common Wage and Hour Violations

Employers under shareholder pressure for results often try to cut corners in order to keep costs down. These violations entitle workers to reimbursement for their harms and looses. Some common wage and hour violations are:

  • Minimum Wage Violation: Employers attempting to pay less than the mandated federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour are violating wage and hour laws.
  • Unpaid Breaks: Federal laws prohibit employers from forcing employees to work through lunch breaks unpaid.
  • Unpaid and Underpaid Overtime: For ever hour an employee works in excess of 40 hours in a single week, the employee is entitled to pay that is 1.5 times their normal wage.
    • Comp Time: Employers violate wage and hour laws when they force a worker to work more than 40 hours in a single week for their normal hourly pay and then work less hours the following week so the two weeks average to 40 hours a piece, despite working 60 hours in week one and 20 hours in week two. This practice violates the federal mandate that a worker be paid time and a half if they work more than 40 hours in a single 7 day period.

Click here to learn more about other common wage violations.

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