On October 25, media groups confirmed that McDonald’s has all but admitted that employees need government food stamp, health care, heating/electricity and housing support when working full time for the hamburger chain. At $8.25 per hour pay, a full time employee only makes just over $1330. That qualifies many families for such a variety of programs that McResource, a helpline set up to provide information to employees, was set up so that they could more easily navigate the process of getting public assistance.
Additionally several months ago the company published a recommended budget to help workers manage their expenses; one that included working a second job. The budget set aside $600 for rent, an impossible task in Southern California and most metropolitan cities unless the employee rents a room with in a house with other people. If the employee is the breadwinner for a family, either all members would need to work or crowd into a small studio apartment. The list did not include heating, gasoline, food, and seemed to lump all those items including clothing, personal items such as toilet paper and toothpaste into general expenses.
They also seemed to think that one could either buy medical insurance or take care of prescriptions and co-pays for only $20 a month, an insurance plan many of us would love to find.
The advocacy group Low Pay is not Ok recorded a phone call made to the helpline by McDonald's worker Nancy Salgado who has worked at the burger chain for 10 years and still only makes minimum wage like most fast food workers.. CNN Money reviewed the full recording of the call and found that the advisors were lacking in information and did not ask the vital questions that would be asked before qualifying for any state benefit program. However the representative on the line even suggested that Nancy go to food pantries and apply for Medicaid.
McDonald's said in a statement that "the McResource Line is intended to be a free, confidential service to help employees and their families get answers to a variety of questions or provide resources on a variety of topics including housing, child care, transportation, grief, elder care, education and more." Apparently they finally realized that employees cannot live just on burgers and fries, or do they have to pay for their meals?
But the line is not open to all McDonald's workers. Franchise owners need to pay for the service in order for their employees to use it. The McResource line came just a week after a report by UC Berkeley economists found that more than half of fast food workers need to rely on public assistance programs since their wages are not sufficient to support one person, let alone a couple. A separate report from the National Employment Law Project showed that McDonald’s alone was responsible for $1.2 billion of the $7 billion cost to taxpayers to support fast food workers each year in terms of public assistance programs.
It turns out that Salgado has brought this matter up before: She and other members of Fight for $15, a group calling for higher wages for fast-food workers, interrupted a speech by Jeff Stratton, president of McDonald’s USA, in Chicago earlier this month. “It’s really hard for me to feed my two kids and struggle day to day. Do you think this is fair, that I have to be making $8.25 when I have worked for McDonald’s for 10 years?” Salgado shouted out. Stratton, caught off guard, responded: “I’ve been there 40 years.”