One of the largest employers of low-wage workers said that the company will support a minimum wage hike. That is, if the legislation moves forward.
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson gave the conditional endorsement in a widely overlooked speech last month at Northwestern University, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
“You know, our franchisees look at me when I say this and they start to worry: ‘Don, don’t you say it. Don’t you say we support $10.10,’” Thompson said. “I will tell you we will support legislation that moves forward.”
“McDonald’s will be fine,” he said at the early May speech. “We’ll manage through whatever the additional cost implications are.”
McDonald’s and other fast food chains have been the target of growing fast food strikes and protest, as workers call for wages as high as $15 an hour because they struggle to make ends meet even when working full-time. McDonald’s has routinely said that they are not involved in the wage decisions of their franchisees, which make up 90% of all McDonald’s restaurants.
Three states have raised their minimum wages this year, adding to the 13 states that hiked wages in 2013. Earlier this week, Seattle hiked their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Thompson did voice his support for a staggered increase during the speech, saying they would help small businesses like the many McDonald’s franchisees handle the changes, on top of those they’ve already taken on thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
“If those things were laid out sequentially and strategically so that they don’t create an overbearance on small business I think that there’s a way to do this,” he said.
Thompson added he doesn’t consider the fast food company to be a minimum wage employer and that McDonald’s will pay what the law and market requires them to pay their employees.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that raising the minimum wage could cost as many as half a million jobs, but raise 900,000 out of poverty.