Don't Fall For McDonald's Latest Gimmick

October 1st 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Fast-food mammoth McDonald's announced another menu shake-up this week in an effort to boost slumping sales. McDonald's changed the name of its TasteCrafted program to Chef Crafted, after finding the original name "did not resonate with consumers."

"We decided to celebrate our chefs who have created these recipes and highlight the culinary expertise of our in-house and supplier chefs," company spokeswoman Lisa McComb told Bloomberg.

But by many counts, the world's largest restaurant chain may have deeper problems. The announcement marks the third attempt by McDonald's to create a do-it-yourself sandwich program, and the latest effort to re-imagine their brand in the face of changing public perceptions and competition from more popular "fast-casual" chains. But underlying tensions with underpaid workers and the connected negative public image could pose more structural problems for the company.


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Last week, workers briefly shut down a Detroit McDonald's as they protested for a $15 per hour minimum wage. "Right now, as it stands, making the minimum wage that they're giving them, they're not surviving. They're barely making ends meet," Pastor W.J. Rideout told a local CBS station. "They cannot afford to pay their house notes, their car notes, their insurance, their phone bills and their basic utilities in order to survive."

It is not a stretch to say that labor struggles have characterized a majority of McDonald's—and other fast-food chains'—media coverage in recent months. ATTN: has reported that while the average pay for McDonald's workers is $9 per hour, more than half of workers rely on some form of public assistance program to make ends meet. One recent University of California, Berkeley study found that the public cost subsidizing low-wage workers is nearly $153 billion each year for programs like food stamps, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. That breaks down into nearly $127.8 billion in federal aid, and $25 billion in state aid, the study found.


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In recent months, McDonald's announced 10 percent wage increases for 1,500 company-operated stores in the U.S., as well as benefits like paid vacation and financial assistance for education. But observers were quick to point out that the increases would affect only around 10 percent of U.S. stores. "It's important to know that approximately 90 percent of our U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchises who set wages according to job level and local and federal laws," McComb told ATTN: in April. "McDonald's does not and cannot determine wages set by our 31,000 U.S. franchisees."

Pending a decision on a National Labor Relations Board ruling in August, however, McDonald's and other fast food companies that franchise out restaurants could be categorized as joint employers, opening up the possibility of more wage accountability.

I've worked at McDonald's for 22 years. Here is my story.

Bart has worked at McDonald's for 22 years. They have only increased his wage 29 cents per year. Learn about his #FightFor15.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015