(State House News Service) -- Fast food workers in Boston plan to target McDonald's for criticism Thursday, a day after the franchise announced plans to pay some of its U.S. workers more than the minimum wage.
Local fast food workers plan to demand that the company raise wages to $15 an hour and respect the rights of cooks and cashiers to form a union without facing retaliation.
McDonald's on Wednesday announced a wage increase of $1 an hour above the local minimum wage, but critics said that since the higher wages will be received only by employees at corporate-owned franchises, only 90,000 of roughly 840,000 U.S. workers will see larger paychecks.
Organizers of a protest at a Massachusetts Avenue McDonald's, backed by labor union allies, are calling the company's new plans for higher wages for some workers a "publicity stunt."
Workers also announced plans Wednesday for an April 14 rally and a march across Boston, which will also involve home care, retail and airport workers. In addition, fast food workers plan to stage a strike in 200 cities in mid-April, according to a media advisory.
In the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook predicted the average hourly wage for employees at company-owned restaurants will be more than $10 by the end of 2016, but noted 3,100 independent McDonald's franchise owner-operators make their own decisions about employee pay based on local market conditions.
McDonald's is also offering "paid personal time off for any reason to restaurant crew members who have been with us for at least one year," Easterbrook wrote, with eligible employees in line for a check for the value of that time if they don't take the personal time. "We understand that life balance is important and believe that this will make a difference for our people," Easterbrook wrote.
Easterbrook also noted the company's recent announcement that it will stop using human antibiotics in its U.S. chicken supply, and said McDonald's is also offering "new and enhanced educational opportunities" to employees at all of its restaurants.
"This is an initial step for our U.S. business," he wrote. "I understand that some may believe it doesn't go far enough. These actions demonstrate meaningful progress, and it is what we can do right now in our company-owned stores. We remain committed to regularly reviewing the total employment experience we offer our people."
Massachusetts last year passed a law raising the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour over three years and new laws also hit the books granting specific rights to domestic workers and delivering sick time benefits to workers without them. Protesters plan to call for movement towards a "living wage," citing rising daily living costs and the wide gap between the nation's highest and lowest earners.
Groups in the coalition behind Tuesday's 11 a.m. protest at 870 Massachusetts Avenue include the Immigrant Workers Center Collaborative, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts, Boston Pressman's Local 3/Teamsters, Jobs with Justice, the Mass. Nurses Association, and 1199SEIU.