- McDonald’s workers in 15 US cities plan to strike on May 19.
- The strikes are planned for the day before McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting.
- They say McDonald’s is turning to perks and hiring incentives instead of just raising pay.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
McDonald’s workers in 15 US cities plan to strike for higher wages on May 19, the day before the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
Employees will go on strike to demand all McDonald’s workers make at least $15 per hour. So far, the strikes are planned for Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Raleigh-Durham, Charleston, Houston, and Milwaukee. A demonstration is also planned outside the company’s Chicago headquarters, organizers from the advocacy group Fight for $15 said.
McDonald’s told Insider that it depends on local governments for minimum wage laws. “It’s the responsibility of federal and local government to set minimum wage, and we’re open to dialogue so that any changes meet the needs of thousands of hardworking restaurant employees and the 2,000 McDonald’s independent owner/operators who run small businesses,” McDonald’s US told Insider.
Workers say McDonald’s is offering all kinds of perks to attract workers amidst the labor shortage – but not raising pay. One organizer shared a photo of a $500 signing bonus at a location in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And in Florida, one McDonald’s is paying candidates $50 just for an interview, but even that isn’t creating enough applicants, Insider previously reported.
Blake Casper, the McDonald’s franchisee offering to pay interview candidates $50, told Insider that he’d had some success with signing bonuses and referral programs. But tactics aren’t enough to compensate for the entire chain’s lack of workers. The company is looking to hire 25,000 employees in Texas and 8,000 in Tennessee, while fast-food competitors like Taco Bell, Whataburger, and others all struggle with the same problem.
Organizers cited McDonald’s massive revenue and the danger of working during COVID as reasons for striking.
“Last year, in the middle of a global pandemic, McDonald’s made $5 billion and gave billions to its shareholders – all while workers like me risked our lives to keep stores running for less than $15/hr. I can’t afford to wait any longer for a raise,” Hakim Dumkia, a worker in St. Louis, said. “I plan to go on strike to say to McDonald’s: don’t wait for politicians in Washington to pay us what we need to survive. We supported McDonald’s through the pandemic, and now you need to pay us enough to support our families and our communities.”
The striking workers also demand the company withdraw from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and International Franchise Association (IFA). In 2019, McDonald’s announced it would no longer lobby against increased minimum wages, but the two lobbying organizations continue to fight minimum wage increases.
In 2021, the NRA wrote a letter to Congress advocating against the Raise the Wage Act, which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Fight for 15 data shared with Insider shows that the NRA and IFA spent over $3.2 million lobbying against increased wages since April 2019, after McDonald’s agreed to stop working against it.
IFA told Insider that Fight for $15 is off base about the organization’s goals. “IFA supports reasonable increases to the minimum wage that are applied fairly, so perhaps the Fight for $15 should spend its hundreds of millions of dues-payers dollars on better research before making unsubstantiated demands about organizations it doesn’t know anything about,” senior VP of government relations and public affairs Matthew Haller told Insider.
The McDonald’s workers’ grievances speak to a larger issue across the fast food industry and in retail more broadly. Nearly half of all US restaurants say they are “severely understaffed.”
11 Starbucks workers previously told Insider that their stores are understaffed and facing high turnover rates due to low pay, thousands of 7-Eleven franchisees told the chain that they can’t reopen to overnight hours because they can’t find workers, and Dollar General workers in Maine just walked out in protest over low wages and understaffed stores.
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