If McDonald’s Wants to Spread Lovin’, They Should Start With Their Employees

In case you missed it, mass distributor of high fructose corn syrup, fat, and crappy meat company otherwise known as McDonald’s released its new ad campaign during the Super Bowl last weekend and has been plastering the airwaves in an attempt to drive sales. With a rapidly dying business model, the fast food giant is resorting to desperate measures to get people buying Big Macs and vats of sugary soda water – namely giving it away for free if you call someone and tell them you love them. The new campaign is called “Give Lovin’, Get Lovin'”:

McDonald’s workers are the arbiters of the lovin’ for food deals, and if the commercial is anything to go by, they are positively giddy about spreading it.

Except they probably aren’t given the average worker at McDonald’s doesn’t earn enough money to actually live on. The wages are so pitifully low that in 2014, employees in Michigan, California and New York actually sued the company for wage theft, alleging the company forced them to work off the clock, neglected to pay them overtime and struck hours off their time cards. McDonald’s has steadfastly refused to pay its employees a living wage and have been overtly hostile to their attempts to unionize.  After the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruling last year that McDonald’s could “be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators”, The New York Times reported that:

Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said he found merit in 43 of the 181 claims, accusing McDonald’s restaurants of illegally firing, threatening or otherwise penalizing workers for their pro-labor activities.

Over the past 30 years, McDonald’s has had to pay back wages more than 300 times for FLSA violations, and has such an unequal pay structure that the average worker would have to put in more than 1 million hours of burger flipping to match what the CEO makes in a single year.

In an astonishingly cynical stunt designed to deflect the growing criticisms of its wage practices, the company teamed up with Visa to create a website with financial advice for employees, with sample budgets like this:

So if you have a second full time job, pay no heating bills, and miraculously pay only $20/month for healthcare (truly an incredible feat given McDonald’s own basic health care plan costs around $60), you should be just fine.

Wage theft practices aside, there is simply no escaping the fact that McDonald’s is a truly shitty company, as highlighted by Chipotle founder Steve Ells, who apparently told his father that during the period when his company was owned by McDonald’s, he traveled to one of the company’s chicken farms and found it to be ‘the most disgusting thing he had ever seen in his life’.

Gimmicks aside, McDonald’s makes its money by mass producing low quality, unhealthy food and selling it with low overhead at low prices. The victims of this business model are the consumers who get addicted to the cheap supply of fat, sugar and salt, and the workers who get paid atrociously to dole it out.

If McDonald’s really wanted to spread the lovin’, it would start by showing some to its customers by selling them decent food, and most importantly, their own employees by paying them enough money to live on.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.