Moral Low Ground


McDonald’s Tells Poverty-Wage Workers: Remember to Tip Your Au Pairs, Housekeepers & Pool Cleaners

(Photo: Annette Bernhardt)

(Photo: Annette Bernhardt)

The same McDonald’s employee resource website that has advised workers to apply for government welfare and sell their holiday gifts to make ends meet is in the news again.

This time, McResources advised McDonald’s workers– whose average hourly wage is $7.81– on how to tip their au pairs, pool cleaners, housekeepers, personal trainers, massage therapists and dog walkers.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that the average McDonald’s employee, or even manager, would have an au pair or a swimming pool, let alone someone to clean it.

NBC News reports the ‘tipping guide’ comes courtesy of etiquette coach Emily Post, who McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb called a “third-party partner.” The suggested tips and gifts, which range from $10 for building doormen and barbers to a week’s salary for nannies and au pairs, add up to hundreds, if not more than a thousand, dollars.

McDonald's tip pool cleaner

The latest McGaffe comes amid the largest nationwide walk-off strike ever staged by fast-food employees, who are seeking a $15 hourly wage. Organized by Fast Food Forward, a New York City-based group partnering with faith-based, labor and progressive organizations, protesters rallied under the motto “Fight For 15.” Chanting “We can’t survive on $7.25,” the fast-food strikers held protests in more than 130 cities and towns across America.

McResources recently made headlines when it posted money-saving tips for McDonald’s employees, including suggesting breaking their food into smaller pieces to feel more full while eating less and selling their holiday gifts for extra cash. The site also recommended singing songs and taking vacations (which minimum wage workers, many of them toiling away at multiple McJobs, couldn’t dream of affording) to relieve stress.

McResources, which also operates a call-in center where operators dispense survival tips, has also told struggling and hungry employees to turn to charity food pantries, welfare, food stamps and Medicaid.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s also partnered with credit giant Visa to launch a website advising its poverty-wage workers how to survive on their meager earnings. The McDonald’s-Visa Practical Money Skills for Life™ site contained a controversial ‘sample employee budget’ in which workers were told to get second jobs to make ends meet. The site originally budgeted $0 for monthly heating bills and just $20 for health insurance. The ‘sample budget’ was revised in the wake of public and media backlash.

This time, with the nation’s attention focused on the fast-food strike, McDonald’s removed the tone-deaf tip guide from the McResources site.

The SEIU United Service Workers West union recently slammed McDonald’s, which made $1.5 billion in profits last quarter and paid its CEO $13.8 million last year, for saddling taxpayers with the burden of ensuring its employees don’t starve.

“Rather than taking responsibility to pay its workers a wage they can live on… McDonald’s relies upon taxpayers to pick up the slack.”

Indeed, according to the National Employment Law Project, McDonald’s costs US taxpayers an estimated $1.2 billion in annual public assistance, essentially a public subsidy to augment the company’s massive profits.

A McDonald’s worker earning $7.25 an hour working 40-hour weeks would earn $290 before taxes, or $15,080 annually. In contrast, if McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson worked the same 40-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, he would earn $6,634 an hour. It would take him less than 3 minutes to make as much as a minimum wage worker earns all week.

SEE ALSO: 12 Fast Facts about Thursday’s Fast-Food Strike

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