cDonald’s Indigestible Excuse for Low Pay

McDonald’s Indigestible Excuse for Low Pay

By TERESA TRITCH

MAY 23, 2014 5:30 PM

When Henry Ford realized it was good business to pay employees enough to buy the products they built, it was a breakthrough, not only because the idea challenged the reflex to pay as little as possible, but because the product was a car. He was talking real bucks.

McDonald’s has mislearned the lesson.

In response to escalating protests by McDonald’s employees calling for higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation, McDonald’s chief executive, Don Thompson, defended the company at the annual meeting on Thursday, saying that McDonald’s pays a competitive wage.

But what constitutes “competitive” in the fast-food industry is precisely the problem. Hourly pay averages about $9. The low pay is possible in party because employers rely on taxpayers to subsidize it through public assistance and on non-unionized workforces to swallow it. The competitive fast food wage, in short, is not enough to live on.

Mr. Thompson presumably knows that. But he is paid not to understand what the protestors are demanding because his own pay is based on profits that are derived in part by keeping worker pay low.

Of course, if the political economy were functioning as it is supposed to – with Congress imposing reasonable boundaries on businesses, markets and the economy – workers wouldn’t have to get their bosses to understand what it’s like to live on $9 an hour, because Congress would make sure that no one had to.

The McDonald’s workers are asking for $15 an hour. That sounds like a lot compared to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and compared to the Democratic proposal to raise the minimum to $10.10. But it’s actually closer to where the minimum wage would be today if it had kept pace over the years with growth in labor productivity.

McDonald’s workers are not asking for too much. Democrats are asking for too little and Republicans won’t even go along with that.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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