Is McDonald’s Raising its Prices to Put a Wedge Between Striking Workers and Sympathetic Customers?

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Labor and Workers' Rights
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McDonald’s To Test ‘Dollar Menu And More’ Menu.

Does anyone else think this might be a threat aimed at the consumer? Is McDonald’s trying to say, “If public pressure forces us to voluntarily raise wages for our employees, we’re going to make the public pay for it”? Is it posturing for Congressional Democrats, as in, “If the government increases the minimum wage we’re going to make the public pay for it”?

A protester in Chicago held up this sign outside a McDonald's on August 29, 2013. Fast food workers in 60 U.S. cities went on strike that day calling on the industry to raise worker pay.

A protester in Chicago held up this sign outside a McDonald’s on August 29, 2013. Fast food workers in 60 U.S. cities went on strike that day calling on the industry to raise worker pay.

Maybe this has been in the works for a long time, but it seems threatening to raise prices, and the recent release of the “McBudget” are part of a timely strategy aimed at putting down worker protests and public support for striking workers.

An industry analyst told Bloomberg, that it has to do with the price of beef and other ingredients increasing, and from more competition in the fast food market:

“It just sounds like they’ll be raising prices,” Peter Saleh, a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said in an interview. The industry’s “definition of value has moved up from the Dollar Menu to $1.50 or $2.”

Restaurants including McDonald’s have faced higher beef prices after a drought last year made it more expensive for farmers to feed cattle.

“You can’t sell a burger for $1 anymore because the cost of beef has gone up so much,” Saleh said.

Introduced in 2002, the Dollar Menu features 13 items, including hash browns, coffee, McChicken sandwiches and side salads, according to the company’s website. McDonald’s last year introduced a mid-tier priced menu in U.S. stores, raising prices for small French fries and drinks.

The McBudget, in case you haven’t heard, is a financial management strategy McDonald’s proposed to its employees in July. The best suggestion for making ends meet on a McDonald’s paycheck offered by the McBudget is simple: Get another job.

Leonard Pitts took the company to task for that, and other “insulting suggestions,” in a column in the San Jose Mercury News:

McDonald's Workers StrikeThe most vexing thing about that budget is its condescension. Take it from this welfare mother’s son: If there’s one thing poor people do not need, it is lessons in how to be poor. To the contrary, you will never meet anyone who can wring more value from a dollar.

We’re talking every trick of layaway and 2-day-old bread, coupon clipping and off-brand buying, Goodwill shopping, Peter robbing, Paul paying and plain old going without. You ever hear of a jam sandwich? That’s when you jam two pieces of bread together and call it lunch. Heck, if you handed the federal budget over to a couple of welfare mothers, we’d be in surplus by December.

However they got into poverty they all need — and deserve — the same things: a way to work their way out and to be accorded a little dignity while they do so. The former comes with paying a living wage, the latter by treating people with respect and not presuming to teach them what they could teach you. McDonald’s fails on both counts.

The McBudget is a McInsult.

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