Workers gathered at a McDonald's in Boston Thursday to denounce the fast-food giant's decision to raise wages at its corporate-owned stores but not require the 3,100 franchisees who operate the vast majority of its restaurants — and employ nearly 90 percent of the workforce — to do the same.
"McDonald's announcement is another attempt to undercut workers trying to earn a livable wage," said Darius Cephas, 24, a McDonald's employee who spoke at the demonstration at 870 Massachusetts Ave. "I want $15 and a union, and this latest stunt by McDonald's is a check I can't cash."
McDonald's is the latest corporation to give workers a raise, following the lead of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., and TJX Cos., although those pay increases apply to the companies' entire workforces.
McDonald's workers across the country have decried the move, announced Wednesday, as an April Fool's joke or a PR stunt.
State Senator Dan Wolf, Democrat of Harwich, who filed a bill that would require major fast-food companies to pay workers at least $15 an hour, also spoke at the Boston rally, which drew about 50 protesters.. Wolf received a letter Wednesday from McDonald's outlining its plan to raise the pay of 90,000 employees to $1 more than the local minimum wage and allow them to earn paid time off.
"It's a step in the right direction," Wolf said, "but clearly it's not enough."
"More and more people are depending on income from working at fast-food restaurants, and we really need to look at a way to close the gap between minimum wage and livable wage."
The letter to Wolf did not mention the proposed Massachusetts legislation but noted that franchise owners, who employ about 750,000 people across the country, "make their own decisions on how they run their businesses and pay their employees."
McDonald's does plan to expand its free high school diploma and tuition assistance program to all US employees at both company-owned and franchise restaurants, according to the letter.
Katie Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.