Democrat members of the U.S. Congress are urging McDonald’s Corp. and other fast-food chains to raise wages for store workers.
“Too many hard-working families are being forced to depend on poverty-level wages,” 53 members of Congress wrote in a letter being mailed today to restaurant executives including McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson. “Paying fair wages and putting more spending money in the hands of consumers will strengthen our economy.”
The letter, signed by representatives including Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, and Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, is also being sent to CEOs at Burger King Worldwide Inc., Wendy’s Co., Yum! Brands Inc. and Domino’s Pizza Inc.
Tomorrow, fast-food workers plan to strike for $15-an-hour pay in more than 100 cities across the U.S. While the protests for higher wages, which started in New York City last year, have spread across the country, they’ve done little to change an industry that employs millions of low-wage workers.
The strikes and letter coincide with President Barack Obama’s support for a bill pending in Congress that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25 an hour and index it to inflation. Some states have higher minimum wages than the federal level.
U.S. food-preparation and serving workers, including those in fast food, earn $9 an hour, or $18,720 a year, on average, according to May 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant company, has “always been an above minimum-wage employer,” Thompson said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in July. “We’re going to continue to provide entry-level jobs.”
About 90 percent of the more than 14,100 U.S. McDonald’s locations are owned by franchisees.
Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment. Yum, Wendy’s and Burger King also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.
At Domino’s company-owned U.S. stores, delivery drivers make more than $10 an hour, on average, in wages and tips, Tim McIntyre, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based chain also reimburses its drivers for using their personal vehicles, he said. About 8 percent of Domino’s 4,900 domestic stores are owned by the company.