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McDonald's Pay Raise Still Not Enough to Silence Critics or Halt Protests

Labor organizers believe it is a PR stunt.

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Giving a small portion of its employees a pay raise is not a solution to McDonald's labor issues, but merely a band-aid. Yesterday, the chain announced that starting in July it would bump up the salaries of hourly employees by about a dollar an hour, and give those who have worked at the restaurant for a year paid time off. However, that deal only applies to the 90,000 employees at the stores owned by the corporation and and not the hundreds of thousands more who work at locations operated by franchisees. According to the Associated Press, labor organizers are not pleased with the move and have "denounced it as a publicity strategy that [does] little to improve the situations of workers."

McDonald's worker and activist Kwanza Brooks notes, "Raising wages only a little for only a small fraction isn't change. It's a PR stunt." The Service Employees International Union plans to keep fighting the chain in court over alleged violations against employees who have joined protests at franchised locations.

The organizers of the Fight for $15 campaign emphasize McDonald's latest move is not enough, and that there is still a strong need to go ahead with the planned global strike by fast food workers on April 15. Kendall Fells — the campaign's organizing director — tells Bloomberg that "there's still millions of families in poverty due to McDonald's not raising [hourly salaries] to $15." Fells continues, "We're going to show McDonald's this movement won't stop until we get what we deserve."

McDonald's doesn't seem to be too worried about the strikes, however. McDonald's USA President Mike Andres tells the AP that only a "few" McDonald's employees have actually participated in the protests "and that [their] actions haven't hurt the company." He adds, "They're not taking a toll." Andres says that the pay bump was not motivated by the strikes but instead "by the marketplace": "It's a very competitive environment and a significant rationale for this plan is that we want to be the most competitive and attractive employer." If the company wants to be an "attractive employer," perhaps McDonald's should consider not telling workers to get a second job to make ends meet.