Fast food workers battling for higher wages have officially stormed the McCastle. According to the Chicago Tribune, 10 protesters were allowed into McDonald's headquarters to deliver a petition calling for $15-per-hour wages. The document was signed by over one million people. The 10 protesters spent nearly 30 minutes speaking with corporate employees during McDonald's annual shareholders meeting today. When the group left the building, other protesters outside the building "clapped and wooed."
Adriana Alvarez, one of the fast food workers that delivered the petition, told other protesters: "We told our story. It was so amazing. It was powerful." The move comes just a day after thousands of activists calling for higher wages gathered near the chain's Oakbrook, Ill. headquarters.
"We told our story. It was so amazing. It was powerful."
The Fight for $15 movement has long been in support of a higher hourly salary for fast food workers — many of whom live in poverty — and for their right to unionize. Protesters have staged walk-outs at restaurants around the country, and even across the world to make their demands known. In an attempt to appease protesters, McDonald's announced in April that it would raise the wages of employees at company-owned stores by a dollar per hour. However, that raise only applies to a fraction of McDonald's total workforce.
In response to the large gathering of protesters yesterday, a McDonald's spokesperson admitted that while McDonald's corporate cannot raise the wages of those employed by franchises, "[it's likely] franchisees will follow the company's lead and also raise wages of front-line workers."
But will raising wages to $15 an hour — a drastic increase from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 — actually be the solution the protesters are looking for? Ryan Holdan, the president of Paymasters, a company that provides payroll and human resources services to many restaurants, tells Eater that might not be the case. "People are looking at the situation very statically... People think that when the wages are raised there will be no reduction of hours and no reduction of head counts."
"Some people will lose their jobs."
Holdan argues that economically, this is simply not the case. If wages are increased, a certain number of people's wages "are going to go up to $15 per hour. But for some workers, they are going to go from making $7.25 an hour to nothing per hour." He elaborates: "Some people will lose their jobs."
While it might not be an ideal solution to the issue at hand, Holdan believes that a higher level of education leads to higher wages. He refers to a study by the Congressional Budget Office that says that 88 percent of fast food workers do not have college education, a large subset of whom have not completed high school. "If you don't have a better education you are going to be locked into this battle for a long time."
In April, McDonald's announced that it would expand its college tuition assistance programs to workers at all of its U.S. stores. However, unlike Starbucks — which is offering to cover a full four year degree program for its employees — McDonald's offers $700 per year for workers and $1,050 for managers to be used to attend classes online or in-person. AOL points out that the assistance "would cover about two classes a year" at a community college. That means it would take students without another form of financial support much, much longer to earn a four-year or bachelor's degree.