McDonald's Should Listen to Facebook

May 18th 2015

Laura Donovan

If you want to do business with Facebook, you'll have to pay your workers a decent wage. The social network announced new standards last week for contractors and vendors that do "substantial work" for the company. Those standards include a $15 minimum wage for workers such as cooks or janitors.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced the implementation in a Tuesday blog post, stating that vendors and contractors should also provide at least 15 paid holidays, vacation and sick time, and a $4,000 bonus for those who don't receive paid parental leave.

Sandberg used the blog post to explain the rationale behind Facebook's decision:

"This will give both women and men the flexibility to take paid parental leave, an important step for stronger families and healthier children. Taking these steps is the right thing to do for our business and our community. Women, because they comprise about two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationally, are particularly affected by wage adjustments. Research also shows that providing adequate benefits contributes to a happier and ultimately more productive workforce."

It's tough to be poor in Silicon Valley.

Low-wage workers struggle to make ends meet in expensive Silicon Valley, where Facebook is headquartered. It is one of the priciest places to live in the country, and housing demand will continue to rise as more people move there to work in the booming technology industry. This has created a stark contrast between well-off tech employees and the workers in the service industries contracted by the tech giants. In 2013, the average salary for San Francisco tech workers jumped to $156,518, a nearly 20 percent spike from the previous year. That same year, NPR profiled a Google security guard who sometimes had trouble feeding himself and his daughter.

The Fight for 15 has noticed Facebook.

Fight for $15, a campaign to raise wages for low-income workers, praised Facebook for increasing its minimum wage.

"Facebook did the right thing in making sure that workers are paid a minimum of $15 an hour," Kendall Fells, National Organizing Director of the Fight for $15, said of the move. " If Facebook can raise pay to $15, so can McDonald's."

Last month, Fight for $15 organized rallies all over the country pushing for higher minimum wage and unionization for low-wage earners. On May 21, Fight for $15 will gather outside McDonald's shareholder meeting and present the corporation with a million signatures calling for both an increase of the company's minimum wage to $15 an hour and support for an employee union.

At the Los Angeles Fight for $15 rally, which drew more than 1,000 attendees, ATTN: interviewed 22-year-old, long-time McDonald's worker Jibri Range, who'd been repeatedly denied wage increases.

"It's been all hard work, and I feel like I have to walk on pins and needles just to prove to them that I'm worth [higher pay]," Range told ATTN: at the time. "They say that I'm lazy. We're really going to be heard today, [and] now is the time when they're really going to pay attention to us."