Last week, McDonald’s announced a $1 raise above the minimum wage for some of its U.S. workers, following a similar announcement by Walmart in February – which on the face of it sounds like a good thing.
Thing is, the new $8.25 per hour salary only applies to about ten percent of McDonald’s workforce—those who work in its company-owned restaurants— and not the hundreds of thousands (estimates range between 660,000 and 750,000) of employees who work at franchises, reports Forbes. Conversely, Walmart’s new policy covers about 40% of its workforce.
Many workers who say the announcement amounts to nothing as a publicity stunt, are still picketing the restaurants for what they deem a living wage. Many full time workers at McDonald’s still have to apply for food stamps and other public programs to make ends meet.
Not only did workers and their allies take to social media under the hashtag #FightFor15 after the announcement but many also reiterated plans for a mass walkout and protests in over 200 cities on April 15, demanding a $15 an hour wage and union representation, according to Forbes.
— Raise Up For $15 (@RaiseUpfor15) April 4, 2015
Some say the fast food conglomerate made the move it did because they don’t want to be forced to give raises across the board in all of its stores.
One likely motive for giving raises to workers at corporate-run stores is that McDonald’s is trying to buttress its claim that it is not responsible for pay and other labor practices at its franchises. Last year, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board disagreed. It found that the control exerted by McDonald’s over its franchises made it a “joint employer” of their workers. This week, the N.L.R.B. began holding hearings against McDonald’s and its franchises over alleged violations of employees’ rights to press for better pay and working conditions. McDonald’s has said that the joint-employer designation “improperly strikes at the heart of the franchise system.”
McDonald’s new CEO Steve Easterbrook acknowledged that the wage hike would only benefit 10% of the company’s workforce in a Wednesday statement, reports Forbes. “We’ll continue to evaluate opportunities that will make a difference for our people,” he said.