The decision by McDonald’s to raise workers’ pay to at least $1 over the local minimum wage offers some help for the 90,000 employees at the 1,500 American restaurants run by its corporate headquarters, but the relief is minimal and leaves out the far greater number of workers at the company’s franchise outlets.
On average, the raise for eligible workers will lift pay to $9.90 an hour by July, up from $9.01, and to about $10 an hour in 2016. It does not apply to 660,000 employees at 12,500 McDonald’s franchises.
The increase follows moves by other low-wage employers but is more limited. It covers 12 percent of the McDonald’s work force and costs an amount equal to about 2 percent of profits in 2014. The recent raise at Walmart, to at least $10 an hour, covered nearly 40 percent of workers at a cost of about 6 percent of Walmart’s 2014 profits.
Clearly, if the McDonald’s raise were a response to the competition for workers, it would be bigger. And it does not come close to meeting protesters’ demands for $15 an hour, though the movement to improve fast-food workers’ pay has helped to push McDonald’s to this point.