McOutrage: Poverty Wages for Workers, Corporate Jet for Execs

Nancy Salgado has been working at McDonald’s in Chicago for 10 years, and for that whole time she has been working at Illinois’ minimum wage, now $8.25 an hour. As a mother with two young children, that puts her below the poverty line of $19,530.

McDonald’s says it can’t afford to pay her and the company’s more than 700,000 other American nonmanagement employees a wage that would lift them above the poverty line. What McDonald’s Corp. can afford to do, though, is buy itself a new corporate jet.

That’s right. Bloomberg News reported earlier this week that McDonald’s Corp. has purchased for the use of its executives a Bombardier Challenger 605, a 12-seat plane that goes for between $27 million and $35 million. (Fries and soft drink not included.)

Meanwhile, Salgado and other McDonald’s employees have been offered a “McResources” telephone help line to call that offers them helpful advice if they are having problems meeting their expenses on their minimum-wage McPaycheck. The advice: Sign up for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamp”) benefits and Medicaid. This video features the exchange between Salgado and an unidentified respondent on the McResources line.

Taxpayers are spending an estimated $1.2 billion a year supporting McDonald’s workers, according to a recent National Employment Law Project study, because McDonald’s would prefer to tell its employees to get public assistance to pay their food, housing and health care bills than to pay them a wage adequate enough for workers to meet those expenses without government help.

That figure is less than the $1.5 billion in profits that McDonald’s earned in one quarter – the three months ending September 30.

Sign this petition if you agree that McDonald’s should stop buying luxury jets until it pays its workers a living wage and stops shifting costs onto taxpayers. As the petition says, “it’s not right to impoverish your employees while sailing above them at a rate of $2,500 an hour. It’s immoral to do it with a taxpayer subsidy.” And McDonald’s can clearly afford to do better.

The video featuring Salgado is part of a project called Fast Food Forward, a New York-based campaign that strives to win decent wages and basic rights for restaurant workers. The movement has recently won the support of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who has called for an investigation into the practice of fast-food corporations encouraging their employees to obtain public assistance rather than granting them raises. In New York, 60 percent of fast-food workers are forced to rely on public assistance to cover basic needs, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Ultimately, it is criminal that CEOs of corporations like McDonald’s pay their full-time workers wages that keep them below the poverty line, watch as those workers are forced to rely on public assistance to meet their basic needs, and then appear on cable news shows or other public forums and complain about too much government spending on “entitlements” – all while they collect exorbitant pay packages (McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson earns $13.7 million a year) and enjoy perks like flights on luxury corporate jets. Sign our petition if you agree.