McDonald's Makes Major Change to Employee Pay at Company Stores

McDonald's is raising pay for employees at company-owned locations, as fast-food chains continue struggling to attract new employees as coronavirus restrictions begin easing across the country. The plan only impacts employees at 650 of the 14,000 McDonald's restaurants across the country though, as the majority of them are owned by franchisees who set their own pay for employees. McDonald's said Thursday that employees at the 650 locations will see their pay climb to $13 over the next few weeks, and to $15 by 2021.

Entry-level employees will make at least $11 an hour, and shift managers will make at least $15 an hour, McDonald's said. Over 36,500 employees work at company-owned restaurants. McDonald's is hoping to hire 10,000 new employees throughout the summer. "We encourage all our owner/operators to make this same commitment to their restaurant teams in ways that make the most sense for their community, their people, and their long-term growth," McDonald's U.S. President Joe Erlinger wrote to employees, reports CBS News.

Fast food and casual dining chains have job openings but have struggled to make those positions look appealing after so many were laid-off or furloughed during the pandemic or had to keep working while cases continued rising. McDonald's and other companies, including Chipotle and Olive Garden, have said they would raise workers' pay. But union activists told The New York Times that some of these increases are not enough for workers who were expected to work during the pandemic.

"All through the pandemic, these workers were called 'essential,' but clearly, once again, they're being treated as disposable," Allynn Umel, an organizing director for Fight for $15, told the Times. "Anything less than $15 an hour is an insult." Fight for $15 is supported by the Service Employees International Union, which wants McDonald's to increase its minimum wage. The group is also organizing a strike by McDonald's employees on May 19, when the company has its next shareholder meeting.

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The Fight for $15 movement launched in 2012, and the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, the same it has been since 2009. The group has organized strikes at McDonald's in 15 cities including Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, and Kansas City, reports Vice. They denounced the pay increase announcement. "We're ready to continue our fight to win $15 for every worker across the country," the group said in a statement. "We won't stop fighting, striking and marching in the streets until we win $15 and a union for all."