McDonald’s CEO Supports Minimum Wage Hike, So What’s He Waiting For?

Amidst the ongoing battle to ensure that workers can earn a living wage, Don Thompson, CEO of McDonald’s, admit that he supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. Though it’s not quite the “supersized” paycheck that many of his employees have been calling for, it would certainly improve workers’ quality of life that much more. In a speech at Northwestern University, Thompson said, “McDonald’s will be fine; we’ll manage through whatever the additional cost implications are.”

While many have celebrated this proclamation, it’s hard not to interpret it as at least somewhat disingenuous. The CEO of McDonald’s does realize it can raise its wages without the government forcing it to, right? The “minimum” wage is literally the least a company can pay someone, not the encouraged rate of compensation. If, as Thompson has indicated, McDonald’s can afford to pay its workers better, why hasn’t it already?

It’s statements like Thompson’s that should give us pause when corporations tout the power of the free market. For the CEO to say, “Yeah, we can pay more if you make us,” is precisely why government regulations are often necessary to ensure the American labor force is protected. The supposedly benevolent free market is clearly not stepping up to ensure decent pay until it is forced to do so.

To be fair, while the company does not publicly release concrete figures, analysts estimate that the average McDonald’s employee earns just under $9 per hour. That’s a rate that is significantly higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage, yet is simultaneously significantly lower than the $10.10 that the head of McDonald’s acknowledges would be fair. So, again, what’s the hold up, McDonald’s?

The CEO of Subway, Frank DeLuca, might help to clue us in on Thompsons’s line of thought. A fellow not-too-vocal minimum wage increase supporter, DeLuca recently explained that it’s better from a business perspective for the government to enforce a wage hike because then it would apply to all of his competitors equally. In other words, even when those in the free market want to do the right thing, they won’t out of fear that other businesses won’t follow suit.

Hypocrisy aside, Thompson’s statement is probably still good news. Given that corporate lobbyists have as much if not more clout in Washington as the politicians themselves, seeing the #1 fast food company won’t oppose an increased minimum wage is one less obstacle in getting such legislation approved.

Then again, McDonald’s declaration could also be a strategic one. With fast food workers across the country staging protests to secure $15 an hour, agreeing to $10.10 would be a cost-effective compromise that could help shut down future strikes. Plus, from a PR-perspective, being a low-wage corporation that publicly backs a higher minimum wage would help their image.

Apparently, even when corporations that pay employees minimum wage agree that it is time for workers to earn more, it still takes the government making it official for anyone to see the sentiment reflected on real paychecks. That’s all the more reason for Congress to pass a minimum wage increase. After all, if they don’t, what will change?

Photo Credit: Lancer E


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

Congress needs to pass a minimum wage increase, with a cost of living built in!

Brenda Hixenbaugh

Well the minimum wage should be raised to 10.50 . I make 8.25 I sure could use a break today.

Joe Lade
Joe Lade3 years ago

The CEO of McDonald's Canada made no bones about it in a recorded conference call. It was a part of their business plan to use temporary foreign workers rather than hire Canadians to staff their Canadian operations.

There is no honor or pride in business these days. Only greed, profit and personal gain.

The McDonald's CEO is selling spin while profiting. They have taxpayers subsidizing there labour costs while boosting corporate profits.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Sorry, too many windows open, posted in the wrong thread (my apologies!)

Brian Foster
Brian F3 years ago

Eric Even if the average age of a minimum wage worker were 19 to 20 years old, which it is not, we still need to raise the minimum wage to what it should be, $10.50 an hour adjusted to inflation since 1968. As Kevin pointed out, the average age of the effected workers is 35. We need to pass a law, where the minimum wage will automatically index, and adjust for inflation each year, so we don't have to vote every couple of years. Just like our do nothing criminal republican congress that refused to raise the minimum wage, gets a raise every few years, the minimum wage must rise and adjust for inflation each year. To suggest that we pay workers less than what the minimum wage should be because the workers are 19 or 20 tears old is, a violation of human rights. Most jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries, who pay slave wages, so these corporations can maximize profits.and long gone are the days when a high school grad could get a good paying job at a factory and support a family. One job exist for every three seekers. Corporations are making record profits, with the average corporate CEO making 150 times the low slave wages their employees are making.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Darlene said (immediately after trying to attack me by disparaging every community college professor in existence) "Willful ignorance and twisting words is unworthy of a person who says they are a teacher."

So I guess all of these academic sources I have cited (what is it now, 20, maybe 25 different sources?) are all "willfully ignorant" and "twisting words"?

C'mon, Darlene, what class of academia are you going to attack now?

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Here are some facts on minimum wage workers:

The average age of affected workers is 35 years old;

88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;

35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;

56 percent are women;

28 percent have children;

55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);

44 percent have at least some college experience.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm3 years ago

WE have had this discussion about outsourcing a few times here already. Now that the companies have gotten used to LOW taxes and hardly any regulation in the rest of the world they want the same thing here,. Unfortunately……many of us are not ready to turn America into a third world polluted disgusting country like many 3rd world counties/governments ARE! It costs MONEY to keep a country like ours running correctly. Unfortunately hwta has happened is corporate welfare has grown while the rest of the country has suffered.

Corporations dodnt care about countries. Its evident by watching their behavior. They are never going to bring jobs back here unless we are willing to work for what 3rd world countries are willing to work for. SO what are we to do eric when they only want service jobs here because they LOVE paying 10 dollars a week or month instead of 10 dollars an hour?? OUR prices are wayyyy too high for us to make that paltry amount of money.
Its the same thing with illegal aliens……..Comaonies LOVE it and dont CARE if they are breaking the law. They are payinG half or a 3rd to illegals. What needs to happen is it needs to be made COSTLY for the employers,TOO costly, to continue the behavior.

Dont try to sell me this idea that Corporations are not greedy. Its OBVIOUS.
Lowering taxes is NOT going to bring jobs back. Forcng corporations to be good civic partners with the city and the workforce is.