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Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California May 15, 2014. The march was held as part of an international protest by fast-food workers who planned to go on strikes in 150 c
After 101 McDonald's workers and 37 supporters were arrested protesting the company's low wages and poor treatment of its workers, CEO Don Thompson went to Bloomberg to provide a super-convincing defense of his company's pay practices:
We've had people that have been outside, and you know what, we respect the fact that they want to challenge us relative to wages. We continue to believe we pay fair and competitive wages, and we provide opportunity and we provide job opportunities and training for those entering the workforce. We're trying to be a really great employer.
I guess how Don Thompson tries to be a really great employer is to pay his workers so little that they get an estimated $1.2 billion in public assistance. And by providing workers with budget advice suggesting they get a second job and don't spend anything on heat. And by offering an employee "McResources" helpline that told a worker with 10 years of experience at McDonald's to apply for food stamps. Plus, for all Thompson's talk of opportunity, there are few opportunities for advancement in the fast food industry, which has a low percentage of managerial jobs and pays its first-line supervisors a median of just $13.06.

The only way this is competitive is if the competition is to keep workers poor.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH, Protest Music, Retail and Workplace Pragmatists - Members and Editors, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This sums it up pretty nicely. (21+ / 0-)
    The only way this is competitive is if the competition is to keep workers poor.
    That's exactly what the competition is.
    •  Thanks Laura, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      solublefish, Seattle Socialist

      I've been trying to get the time to read a McDonald's diary. I've seen a few but didn't have time to stop and read them. It's been a very busy week for me.

      I've been Spring cleaning among other things.

      I live in HUD housing and the only thing is, it's incredibly cheap but some property owner/subsidiaries are real pains.

      They come in and write you up if they say your house isn't clean enough.

      Now they've decided that my formerly all along smoking apt  has gone non smoking, I'm like yeah right, you rented this apt to me under false pretenses.

      Not only would I have not moved in here, but I would by now have been on the Housing Vouchers List for 8 years.

      But when I moved in here I had such a quiet old lady living next door to me and it was so much work for a 5ft 2in woman, with a bad back and neck that I didn't stay on the housing voucher list.

      About once a year they send you a letter and ask if you still want to stay on the list. I like a jerk checked no. I didn't think I'd have the strength to move again.

      I got news for property management. I'll take them to court and sue them, for money, for renting to me under false pretenses and violating my 4th Amendment rights.

      The manager keeps coming in here. Told me two weeks ago and now the manager keeps coming here and she very threateningly say's I smell smoke. If I smell smoke the next time we'll evict you.

      I don't wanna hear landlords can do anything they want.

      There is no federal law against smoking in federally funded housing. And my Pal Barack Obama is paying 90% of my rent. $750 a month gov't subsidizes $660 of it. Please.

      This is turning into the diary I've been trying to get the time to write.

      Thanks Laura, Rec'd Tipped and Shared. Great diary.

      Subscribed to the McBudgeting
      LowPay NotOk LowPay NotOk video. It's ridiculous! (McDonald's set up a web site to "help" their employees make a budget. It's... unbelievable.)

      They really think the American People are a bunch of idiots.
      Updated Just The Links Man ♥New And More Social Services Links For Civilians And Veterans♥

      I worked in a fast food burger joint a couple of years ago in New England.

      I ran away screaming after five months.

      Not MD's, the other one.

      Forget it!

      They want you to do the work of three people. Only part time available.

      Five years ago I was getting $8 an hour. To be the drive through booth cashier.

      Yeah, I'm the one at whose head they point the gun. Also you have to watch out for the runners. People who order and run past the pay booth to the pick up booth without paying. You get in trouble.

      They only wanted me four hours every day, and at peak rush hour times. I was told I had to make change in 10 seconds or else.

      Then they decided that since my booth was 2 ft away from the burger machine I could also, while taking orders, pry the frozen burgers apart, put them on to cook, take them off when done and deliver them to all the stations.

      Ok, then they decided if I didn't have anything else to do, I could restock the cups, and paper bags, sweep, mop, etc.

      1 day off, I think, might have been 2.

      I asked for a raise and they cut my hours and forced me to quit.

      After working the first month,  I lost most of  my food stamps and my ssi got cut.

      So for the little I was making it ended up that I was literally, working for about $4 an hour. And they wanted me come come in for like only 18 hrs a week.

      Big deal they give you half off a meal.

      I worked as a waitress and every eatery gives their help a free meal. It's customary.

      But in these fast food joints. If you get caught taking a mozzarella stick or two cause your starving cause they have you doing the work of three people. It's a federal case. The owners wouldn't like it.

      And supposedly after food is sitting around for a certain amount of time they throw it in the garbage. But they won't let the workers eat it. Despicable!

      Definitely one of my masochistic episodes. Never again.

      Fast food is for high school kids who are young, strong and have no expenses.

      $15 an hour is not an unreasonable demand considering how hard these people work.

      Fast Food=Speedy workers.

      They time how fast you work and how many customers are served an hour.

      If your not fast enough you get in trouble.

      Think of the poor guy, working the fryer. I wonder if any of these fast food multi-millionaire; CEO's, would like that job?

      Oh yeah, no air conditioning in the kitchen either, it would get the food cold.

      Is It A Bird, Is It A Plane? No, It's Jefferson Airplane.
      The only thing dangerous about my generation is, our educated minds.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Fri May 23, 2014 at 07:32:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Riddle me this..... (22+ / 0-)

    How does he expalin the $21/hr wage in Denmark's McDonalds? Are they not competitive?

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:20:15 AM PDT

  •  Sure it's "competitive" (16+ / 0-)

    It's within range of his competition. And that's why it needs to be legislated. Few, if any, in the "free market" are going to voluntarily increase their wages knowing their competition doesn't have to.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:20:41 AM PDT

  •  In a sense, he has a point (4+ / 0-)

    I'm sure that the wages he gets paid are fair and competitive.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:22:29 AM PDT

  •  And if you don't like your fair and competitive (9+ / 0-)

    wage, I'm sure the McPolice will be more than happy to hear your complaint.

    "He is Joe McCarthy, he is bad news ... I hope Mr. Cruz does not have a nice weekend." - Chris Matthews

    by lotac on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:24:28 AM PDT

  •  If McDonalds was an asshole, it would eclipse (6+ / 0-)

    Jupiter.

    Many times I’ve returned. Never was I the same in any of my guises. I feel inside, my times before, with no memories of each journey. My soul’s shadows haunt all the paths it has traveled.

    by Wendys Wink on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:26:20 AM PDT

  •  ... (16+ / 0-)

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/...

    McDonald's CEO Don Thompson saw total compensation more than triple to $13.75 million, according to a company filing Friday. He was promoted to global CEO of the fast-food giant in July. Thompson's bump included a $979,000 base salary and more than $10 million in various bonuses.
    http://investing.businessweek.com/...
    Total Calculated Compensation $9,496,664
    As of Fiscal Year 2013

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:28:28 AM PDT

  •  --Competitive With Welfare nt (10+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:29:00 AM PDT

  •  A sincerely held belief (10+ / 0-)

    is not necessarily related to fact:

    "We continue to believe we pay fair and competitive wages,..."
    Just like all those cigarette company executives didn't believe that cigarettes caused cancer, either.

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~"The Summer Day," Mary Oliver

    by Miniaussiefan on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:51:58 AM PDT

  •  Their offered wages are fair and competitive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Cassandra Waites, RUNDOWN

    Compared to all the other types of McJobs available from other companies.  

    It still doesn't make it liveable wage or fair and competitive compared to the rest of society.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Fri May 23, 2014 at 12:13:59 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, jobs at other fast food joints (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie, JeffW

      pay minimum wage, or maybe a little more. (I think there's one or two exceptions, but they would be local chains.)

      So if McDonald's competition doesn't pay a living wage, then why should they? -- that's the CEO's argument.

      •  Federal minimum wage covers all major (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, llywrch

        Competitors. So if he supported increasing federal minimum wage hikes he would still be equal as is with Burger King Wendy's....       Their fear is lost sales due to price increases  from fair wages paid to their labor -- sales lost not to competitors but to home cooking.

  •  Corporate definition of "fair and competitive" (9+ / 0-)

    Corporations don't define competitive the way us normal peopel do.  When corporations say "competitive" they mean whatever helps them profit the most by saving the most money.  It means "we are doing exactly what everyone else does and if we pay higher, we will be less competitive because our costs will be higher and profits lower."

    I don't think doing exactly what everyone else is doing because you have all agreed to do the bare minimum is "competition" at all.  But that's just me.

    So when McDonald's ceo is saying they think the wage is fair and competitive their definition is not at all connected to the real world the rest of us live in.  

  •  "Those entering the workforce". These assholes (9+ / 0-)

    still think only teenagers work there.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri May 23, 2014 at 04:41:43 PM PDT

  •  Then I suggest HE try living on that wage (8+ / 0-)

    for a while....then see if he stills says its "fair and competitive"

  •  So he respects the people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbsoul, Mannie, JeffW, RUNDOWN

    He sends Storm Troopers to arrest...Very nice..

    Maybe Mark Cuban is right, we all have prejudices's. When I see a White CEO who is a Multi Millionaire I many times think..."ASSHOLE who is a douchebag" and I would then walk to the other side of the street as not to have any of their stupid near me.

  •  No they fucking don't (11+ / 0-)

    And for all of their bitching about being unable to raise worker wages, I say this:

    If you can't afford to pay your workers enough to live on, you can't afford to be in business.

    So how about not paying a tiny amount of people a shit-load of money, and start paying livable amounts of people to a ton of people, eh?

    Seriously, fuck you, McDonald's. Fuck you, and the Hamburgler you rode in on.

  •  The minimum wage should be set at a level, such (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, RUNDOWN, solublefish, Whimsical

    that, anyone working 30 hours or more per week does not qualify for public assistance. It should guarantee the ability to support yourself. Companies that don't meet that standard should be taxed the difference in wages that goes to support their employees plus a penalty of 200%, which should change their attitude about "competitiveness," quickly.

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 06:40:22 PM PDT

    •  That's a pretty high bar. (0+ / 0-)

      For a single person, that would be about $30/hour and for a household of six with a single wage earner, that would be about $81/hour. (Those are the levels where public assistance in the form of subsidies under the PPACA stop if one works 30 hours per week and has no other sources of income).

      •  Another strawman set up by a neoliberal, I didn't (0+ / 0-)

        say ACA subsidies, I said public assistance, food and shelter  sudsidies, not other policy remedies and if the number is $30 per hour, then shame on us for letting the federal minimum wage languish at $7.50.

        "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

        by KJG52 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 09:52:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Whimsical, KJG52, OooSillyMe

      We've been bending over backwards creating "incentives" for 35 years to encourage our businesses to be more "competitive". It's about time we start creating incentives to encourage economic justice.

      Isn't that what the "social contract" is supposed to be all about?

  •  kind of emotional looking and reading this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, RUNDOWN

    proud that workers are standing up to a mega corporation for what honest pay for honest work
    and then im angry that workers have to stand up at all.

    livable wages ought to be a right commonly given not a luxury.

  •  McDonald's Canada even more fair! (0+ / 0-)
    Foreign workers recruited from Belize are accusing McDonald’s Canada of treating them like "slaves," by effectively forcing them to share an expensive apartment – then deducting almost half their take-home pay as rent.

    “When we arrived at the airport, they said, ‘We already have an apartment for you,’ so at that point we already know we don’t have a choice of where to live,” said Jaime Montero, who came to Edmonton with four others in September to work at McDonald’s.

    "We had to live there. We were told this is what we are doing," said another worker who didn't want to be named because he still works for McDonald's.

    The Belizeans said their dream of making good money in Canada to send to their families quickly shattered. Instead, they pocketed less than $800 per month – which they said was barely enough to live on.

    “You work for us now, so we are your owners. It’s like that, you know,” said Montero. “We felt like slaves. They just brought us and threw us on the side.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/...
  •  Don't forget ebay. Didn't the McD website ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OooSillyMe

    ... also suggest to their poverty-stricken workers that they could sell their possessions on ebay to make extra money?

  •  He pretty much admitted it (0+ / 0-)

    They train people to enter the workforce but don't consider them part of the workforce.  They are somewhere in between an unpaid internship and a job. To put this in religious terms: purgatory.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Fri May 23, 2014 at 07:41:07 PM PDT

  •  It seems like a pretty easy problem to solve (3+ / 0-)

    If an employee of a company qualifies for public assistance, then that assistance is just charged right back to the company.

    If Walmart or McDonald's employees cost the tax payers X Billion amount of money in public assistance, we just send the bill to Walmart or McDonalds.  If they don't like it, they can pay a livable wage.  If they don't want to pay a livable wage, then we charge them for the corporate welfare we provide.

    Simple.

  •  Working at Mcds (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whimsical, OooSillyMe

    I recently worked at mcds in AZ. I was a manager. Once I finished my training I was to get a bump to $9 an hour. After 2 checks and no raise I complained to my GM and he tells me that "You don't get that right away." I had to fight for 2 months to get my raise. I had a friend who worked at a different Mcds who was manager for about 2 years and was only making $8.50 an hour. So I have to laugh at his assertion of "competitive wages."

  •  "Competitive wages" is just a synonym for (0+ / 0-)

    race to the bottom. In effect, it says that McD won't pay a penny more than the lowest wage they can get desperate workers to accept.

    If the US government were doing its job effectively, we would be hiring workers at $15 and more to work on infrastructure and education and basic research. What would McD do then? Their $8/Hr people would flee in droves, and McD would be faced with the necessity of paying their workers a living wage or closing up shop.

    If I were a McD customer, I'd be happy to pay an extra dime for a hamburger if it meant that my fellow citizens were earning enough to live on.

    Primo pro nummata vini [First of all it is to the wine-merchant] (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sat May 24, 2014 at 01:21:49 AM PDT

  •  Competitive? yes. Fair? No! (0+ / 0-)

    This phrase is an invented one:  "Fair & Competitive Wages", which was designed to link together two disparate words, and anyone who uses this phrase is a witting or unwitting tool of management.  

    Stop arguing wages using the management created, linked phrase:  "Fair & Competitive" because you are falling into a trap.  Disconnect those two words or you will lose their argument.  "Competitive" is not necessarily usually "Fair" for corporate worker wages.  Separate those two words, and argue Fairness as a national value or a taxpayer value or a simple humane value.  Is it fair for corporations to supplement their labor costs with taxpayer Food Stamps?  with taxpayer Housing subsidies?  with taxpayer Energy subsidies?  to the taxpayer tune of over a billion dolllars?  Is that Fair?

    Competitive is market driven.  Fair is a national, corporate, local, community or individual value.  They are not intrinsically linked.  

    Corporations link those two words because when you argue "fairness" they argue that the "market is fair" because the wages are "competitive".    They mean "fair to the corporation."  

    I used to negotiate wages, benefits, and conditions of work on behalf of Management, as a profession.  I am no longer in that business, but I never used that phrase "fair & competitive" when discussing wages and used "market" to describe wage rates that fell within the average range other local employers were paying for the relative same job description.  But fairness is something different, which is why my contracts usually ran "high" when looking at market wages, because "fair" is subjective and a business or community or national value which uses other variables besides a rate that is similar to the average wage paid by other employers. I could argue the "value" of paying "fair" wages using the organizations mission to itself.  Truthfully, the good professional in-house principal negotiator isn't simply negotiating with labor across the table, but has already negotiated with owners/senior finance to justify a values based wage range authority or is willing to suck it up and go back to the boss (CEO, CFO) and ask for an increase in your line of authority.      

    Fair wages
    Fair wages
    Fair wages
    ......................................are livable wages.  

    McDonalds has the ability to increase labor costs, but it will impact shareholders and those "highly compensated individuals" (as defined by the IRS, their technical phrase.)  Fair enough.  No reason taxpayers should subsidize the "competitive & fair" "corporate free market."

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Sat May 24, 2014 at 06:06:04 AM PDT

  •  Send 'em a bill (0+ / 0-)

    Corporations that have employees who depend on Federal assistance programs should get a bill from the government for the services rendered by the government when those employees are unable to make ends meet on the pathetic wages they're being payed. Ought to be easy enough to figure out from tax information how much an employee makes, who they work for, and whether they are also receiving SNAP or other aid. It wouldn't help a corporation to retaliate by laying off those low-paid workers and hire others; they'd just get billed for those employees' public aid bills as well. Outsource the low paying jobs? Well wouldn't get the original corporation off the hook either. The staffing company pays the bill or THEY raise THEIR wages and pass along the cost. The only way out of having to reimburse the government would be to pay a living wage.

  •  In Williston, ND (0+ / 0-)

    They are paying people $15 an hour plus a sign on bonus of around $500 to work at, say, Taco John's.  Oh, but a 1 bedroom apartment also costs around $1,200 a month or so.  

    Don't move to western NoDak.  Never mind.

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