McDonald’s gives workers a raise, but is criticized for not going far enough

— McDonald’s is once again a target for criticism. This time for giving raises to 90,000 of its hourly-wage workers.

What gives?

Critics charge that the vast majority of McDonald’s workers will not see the higher wages.

Effective July 1, starting wages at 1,500 McDonald’s-owned restaurants will be at least $1 an hour more than the minimum wage set by local law. Employees up to restaurant managers will get a pay bump, and if they have worked at least a year, they will also receive paid time off.

But 90 percent of McDonald’s workers are employed by independently-owned franchises and the plan will not apply to those workers. Critics are now calling on McDonald’s to offer all its workers better pay and benefits. Fast food workers in New York plan to protests the new pay policies outside a McDonald’s location later Thursday.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook seemed to anticipate the criticism, writing an OpEd in The Chicago Tribune, and releasing a similarly worded full-page ad in several newspapers Thursday.

“I understand that some may believe it doesn’t go far enough,” writes Easterbrook. “These actions demonstrate meaningful progress, and this is what we can do right now, in our company-owned stores.”

Easterbrook, who has been in the job for less than three months, described the plan to raise pay for workers at company stores as an “initial step.” He said the company remains committed to “reviewing the total employment experience we offer our people.”

Easterbrook said raising wages is part of a plan to make McDonald’s a “modern, progressive burger company.”

The company is also changing its menu, offering more healthy options, and revamping its stores.

While franchise workers won’t get a raise or paid time off, McDonald’s is extending some educational benefits to all 750,000 employees at its network of 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The company will pay for workers to obtain a high school diploma, provide tuition assistance for college courses and language training.

McDonald’s and other fast food chains have been under pressure to give workers better pay and benefits for more than two years with low wage workers staging nationwide protests, demanding pay of at least $15 an hour.

“The company needs to raise wages for all of its employees to $15 an hour and ensure paid time off for sickness and family needs is accessible to all of their workers,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a group that has advocated for paid sick days.

Other big companies have responded to the push. Walmart announced plans to boost pay for 500,000 full-time and part-time associates and give them more control over their schedule.

McDonald’s has claimed that its franchise-based business model means the corporation is not responsible for wages or any workplace violations at independently-owned stores.

But a federal labor watchdog has challenged that argument.

The National Labor Relations Board in December named McDonald’s along with several franchise owners in complaints alleging “discriminatory discipline” against workers who took part in protests calling for higher wages.

The NLRB has yet to issue a final ruling. But by naming McDonald’s along with its franchise owners as violators, the group could set a precedent that would open McDonald’s up to greater responsibility for the conduct of franchise owners.

Teen drivers: Buckle up and lower the volume, Dad’s monitoring you

— And she’ll have fun, fun, fun…till daddy turns Teen Driver on.

GM said Friday it will soon introduce new technology in its cars to help parents keep tabs on their teens behind the wheel.

Parents can pre-set the car to give visual and audible warnings when teens exceed preset speeds. If teens ignore the warnings, the system will rat them out to mom and dad. Parents can review a “vehicle report card” that tells them how far and how fast their teens drove.

The first GM car with the “Teen Driver” feature will be the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. It will be built into the car’s existing MyLink system that operates entertainment and navigation controls. GM says it plans to include the system in other cars down the road.

To get teens to buckle up, the system automatically turns off the radio and connected devices if the safety belts aren’t fastened in the front seat. That means teens will need to strap in before they can rock out. (Groan). Mom and dad can also limit the maximum volume on the car’s sound system. (Eye roll).

The report card also gives parents a sense of how their teens perform behind the wheel by listing which safety features were engaged, including antilock brakes and stability control.

In addition, parents can program the system so that the car’s safety features, such as parking assist and forward collision alert, cannot be disabled.

To activate Teen Driver, parents need create a PIN number in the MyLink settings. Teenagers will have their own designated key fob so the car knows who’s driving. To hack the system, teens will need to steal their parent’s key fob and reprogram it.

GM says the system is designed to help kids learn safe habits and give parents some peace of mind when inexperienced teen drivers hit the road. It notes that the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids — they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits,” said GM safety engineer MaryAnn Beebe.

Teens may see it differently, however.


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Wells Fargo worker asks CEO for raise in email, CC’ing hundreds of thousands

— A Wells Fargo worker decided to ask his CEO for a raise and wanted everyone at the company to know about it.

So he emailed the CEO and CC’d hundreds of thousands of his co-workers.

Now, the whole world knows about it.

The employee, Tyrel Oates, asked Wells Fargo chief John Stumpf to take a stance on income inequality by offering all 300,000 employees a $10,000 raise.

Oates estimates that an across-the-board pay raise would cost the bank $3 billion, “just a small fraction of what Wells Fargo pulls in annually.” In the email, a copy of which was obtained by CNNMoney, he pointed out that in the second quarter alone the bank had earned $5.7 billion.

Oates did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he told The Charlotte Observer that he’s not worried about his job.

By boosting workers’ pay, Oates said Wells Fargo will “help to make its people, its family, more happy, productive, and financially stable.”

Oates urged Stumpf to consider the “positive publicity” the bank would enjoy by giving workers a raise “in a time of extreme consumer skepticism towards banks.”

The bank also has an opportunity to set an example for other big corporations by making its workers’ a priority. Wells Fargo could “show the rest of the United States, if not the world, that, yes, big corporations can have a heart other than philanthropic endeavors.”

Oates also notes that Stumpf, who routinely ranks as one of the highest paid bank CEOs in America, personally took in over $19 million last year, “more than most of the employees will see in a life time.”

The email came with the subject line “income inequality” was marked “high” importance. The list of recipients was 15 pages long and included individual Wells Fargo employees and distribution groups. The Observer estimates that 200,000 employees were copied.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said the bank offers its employees “market competitive compensation” that includes base pay, benefits and other “career-development opportunities.” The bank added that the pay it offers “significantly exceed” federal minimums.

Oates acknowledges that Wells Fargo offers pretty good benefits like 401(K).

He also acknowledges that he works at a bank that is extremely profitable. However, Oates points out the profits are not evenly shared among employees and that with the exception of upper management, the majority of workers barely make enough to live comfortably on their own income.

He ends his email with a clarion call to his co-workers: “It is time that we ask, no, it is time that we demand to be rightfully compensated for the hard work that we accomplish … And while the voice of one person in a world as large as ours may seem only like a whisper, the combined voices of each and all of us can move mountains!”


™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.