Fast Food Workers to Protest McDonald’s ‘Cynical’ $1 Raise

Boston fast food workers held a sit-in at a major downtown intersection last September to protest for higher wages.
Boston fast food workers held a sit-in at a major downtown intersection last September to protest for higher wages. –REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Low-wage fast food workers plan to protest McDonald’s limited decision to raise wages in Boston on Thursday, decrying it as a publicity stunt that provides insufficient benefit to few people.

McDonald’s announced on Wednesday a plan to increase average hourly pay from $9.01 to $10 by the end of 2016, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But that $1 raise only applies to employees at restaurants owned by McDonald’s Corporation. Workers at franchises, which make up about 90 percent of all McDonald’s restaurants, will not see a raise from this announcement.

“People feel this was a somewhat cynical effort to show they are doing something,’’ said Lew Finfer of Raise Up Massachusetts, a statewide group lobbying to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. “They’re hope is people say ‘Oh, McDonald’s is responding,’ … but it’s cynical and mean-spirited when they could do a lot more.’’

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Thus Boston area fast food workers and allies plan to picket outside the McDonalds at 870 Mass Ave. at 11 a.m.

“Any raise for somebody who’s making that little amount of money is a good thing,’’ Russ Davis, the executive director of Jobs With Justice Massachusetts, said. “But I don’t think any of the workers think that $10 an hour is enough to get by on, especially in Massachusetts.’’

Massachusetts recently approved an increase in the state minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016 and $11 an hour in 2017. That’s helpful, Finfer said, but it’s still “way below a living wage.’’ The goal for fast food and other low-wage workers nationwide is to get up to a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Davis said that $15 would be better for employees, give businesses a more stable work force, and stimulate the economy at large.

“We actually think raising the minimum wage to $15 is a good thing longterm,’’ Davis said.

Thursday’s protest comes ahead of an international day of action planned for April 14 for low-wage workers across the world. In Boston, an expected thousand workers plan to march and lead a rally across the city at that time. The current protest, though, has more limited plans.

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“Today, we’re just calling attention to the fact that we think [McDonald’s raise] is inadequate,’’ Davis said.

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