Petition urges Wal-Mart, McDonald's to pay more

Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor, started the movement and is asking the companies to double their wages, citing strong profits and CEO pay.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 30, 2013 11:48AM

A McDonald's employee prepares an order at a McDonald's restaurant on April 19, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has a message for Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD): You can afford to pay your workers more, so stop being cheap. 

Reich, who led the labor department under President Bill Clinton, has started a petition on that's addressed to McDonald's CEO Don Thompson and Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke. As of Friday morning, more than 8,000 people have endorsed the petition, which has a goal of reaching 10,000 signatures. 

His effort comes as fast-food workers are striking in almost 60 cities, seeking to super-size their wages. Both the strike and Reich's campaign are timed to Labor Day, a holiday that was created after the Pullman Strike of 1894, when employees of the Pullman company walked off their jobs following wage reductions. 

While McDonald's and Wal-Mart aren't cutting pay, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 places a family of four below the poverty threshold. That pushes many families into applying for government services such as food stamps as a way to make ends meet.

"Your typical employee is now earning $8.25 to $8.80 an hour," Reich wrote, addressing the two chief executives. "Most are adults, responsible for bringing in half their family's income. You can easily afford to pay them $15 an hour without causing layoffs or requiring price hikes. Your shareholders and executives are doing spectacularly well."

Wal-Mart, the country's biggest private employer, has boosted shareholder dividends 18% this year, while CEO Duke is earning $20.7 million, Reich points out in his petition. 

Meanwhile, McDonald's continues to report improving sales, and its annual return to investors was 15.7% from 2010 to 2012, Reich adds. While Wal-Mart didn't immediately return a request for comment, a McDonald's spokeswoman said the company isn't aware of the petition and so couldn't comment on it. She pointed to the company's statement on the strikes, which notes that the fast-food chain "aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees."

Some critics of a minimum-wage increase argue that employers will be forced to boost prices, potentially crimping sales and leading to job cuts. Yet the country has bumped the baseline wage before. Witness President Harry Truman's 1949 decision to nearly double pay for the lowest paid workers. 

As my colleague Jason Notte writes, the economy suffered none of the negative effects naysayers had predicted. Unemployment didn't rise, while nearly 1.3 million workers saw an improvement in their earnings.

Given that Wal-Mart earlier this month warned about worse-than-expected sales, maybe its chief executive should support a higher baseline hike. After all, if its 2.2 million employees got a wage, maybe they could afford to shop there.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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Aug 30, 2013 1:27PM
When are folks going to understand: (1) minimum wage jobs are entry level and not intended to support a family of 4, (2) not all McD and other workers are paid minimum wage - they work well, they move up and get paid more, (3) McD and other fast food places don't pay the workers; the franchisees who own the stores do, and (4) if the worker wants higher wages, he or she is able to quit and apply for a higher-paying position (there will surely be someone stepping into their shoes for the minimum wage job
Aug 30, 2013 1:37PM
There are people with college degrees who have starting pay around $15.  You think you deserve $15 for flipping a fricken hamburger?  I don't think so.  Those are temporary jobs for beginners like high school and college students.  It's not meant to be a career.
Aug 30, 2013 1:32PM
Stay out of business!  McDonalds and WalMart didn't get where they are by bending to quasi government officials trying to run their businesses.  I hope McDonalds and WalMart will not reward this petition, or the strikes by giving in to their demands.  

And before the slam attacks begin, I used to work for McDonalds.  They provided this young woman with a work ethic and a drive to do more.  After working there for 3 years, I took steps to improve myself, took some classes that I paid for, and moved up the business ladder.  I never felt I was "entitled" to anything except the pay they promised when they hired me, and a chance to improve.  Thank you McDonalds for getting this lady on her way to success!  Stick to your guns!    
Aug 30, 2013 1:23PM
When Government controls wages you have SOCIALISM!
Aug 30, 2013 1:39PM

I worked fast food for a short time when I was 19, quickly realized what a dead end it was and quit my co-manager position.


Freedom of choice people, if you don't like where you work, leave.  Don't expect to get paid double what your skills are really worth.

Aug 30, 2013 1:33PM
Here is what will happen if they go to 15.00 per hour. You will get a whole new group of people that will want those jobs, ones with better skills, the owners of McDonalds would be crazy not to hire them because of increased work ethic and skills. They will push the people out that this move was to protect.
Aug 30, 2013 1:22PM
All these libs with no skin in the game promoting the pay raise, what a surprise.
Aug 30, 2013 1:28PM
Gee, this is the FORMER Secretary of Labor. Except this Doofus is comparing Apples to Oranges. He's talking about the Corporate McDonalds when most of them are franchises. The Corporate has lots of money, the franchisees maybe not so much. Then again, maybe if he did a bettor job he'd still be there. Oh Wait, he left and took a job in the private sector where he makes, guess, MORE MONEY. He doesn't mind taking, he just want OTHER people to give more. Sound like somebody else you know?
Aug 30, 2013 12:47PM
Gotta love the people who argue employers should pay more because "taxpayer money shouldn't be spent to subsidize the labor costs of those evil corporations" via foodstamps, welfare, etc....  These same people pitch a fit and turn blue in the face if you suggest scaling back these entitlement programs.

A person should be free to charge whatever they want for an hour of their own time or labor.

And interestingly enough, wages would start rising in a hurry if we could actually get some real job creation.  Create 10 million jobs over the next couple of years and there would be enough competition for competent employees that everyone would make more money.

Aug 30, 2013 1:35PM
not surprising a democrat started this movement...
Aug 30, 2013 1:23PM
Let's see who has actually had any schooling in business... The greatest expense is usually labor. I wonder if people would be willing to spend $8.00 for a big mac, or if this would result in the same thing as happened with Hostess... Bankruptcy and going out of business and all of these goons losing their jobs. Do they also realize that by not targeting EVERY business out there that this move is meaningless? Finally, higher costs = fewer employees. Higher cost**** everyone, including those who are trying to get money for doing nothing.

Aug 30, 2013 1:29PM

RR is a pinko liberal and probably calls Oshameful some sort of markist hero!


Seriously...anything that comes from RR's socialistic spewings is ridiculous!


Ever heard of HARD WORK!  EARNING YOUR PAY!  Working 2 or 3 jobs if you want more money...or heck...better yourself and get a degree - THAT YOU PAY FOR!!! 


sick of supporting the libs....this pendulum needs to swing back to a better RR era - Ronald Reagan's!!!!

Aug 30, 2013 1:35PM

LOL- stuff that petition up your a$$-

Aug 30, 2013 1:38PM
Labor is a commodity, the fewer people that are qualified to do it the more the pay.  Any job where the only qualification requirement is that you bathe should not pay more than min wage
Aug 30, 2013 1:35PM
That is the problem with GOVERNMENT......they stick their nose into everyone's much you should much you should much profit you should make.......oh yah! the Government looks at us, the taxpayers, as their "McDonalds".  They don't strike or have petitions signed....they just increase their own pay and benefits. We're already on the road to economic bankruptcy with our GOVERNMENT "employees", so why not bring McDonalds and Wal-Mart with us. 
Aug 30, 2013 1:33PM
I hope they all get their unions, then lose all their pay checks to union dues, then all the fast food and retail stores get rid of their employees and replace them with automatic burger flippers and checkout stands and middle class people who are still working have to start kicking in another huge chunk of their limited wealth to pay for another group of people sitting in the socialist waste land living off the government handout dole.... then all the little leftists can run around with that and their obamacare finally saying for real "why cant we be just like Europe and .... China".  Living on part time burger flipper salary... the Obama state.
Aug 30, 2013 1:33PM
It's only fair that individuals that are barely qualified to sweep streets should be paid over double the minimum wage.  Not to mention the high school dropouts that decided to have four kids they couldn't support.  Pay 'em!!! 

Of course, when they take their new founds gains, along with their four kids, to McDonald's for a meal the Kid's Meals will cost $8.95, Big Macs will be $11.29 and a regular Coke will be $5.35.  Oh, and there will only be once cashier on duty, no drive through and one cook to prepare everything.

$15.00 per hours.  Yeah......that's the ticket.  (Shut up you morons and be thankful for what you earned it - one way or another.)

Aug 30, 2013 1:25PM
This is the outcome , when our economic environment allows for only part time job creation . 
Aug 30, 2013 1:37PM
Damn socialist-communist. Reich, go @#$& your self. You idiot, how about learning a skill or practice or a college degree to make more money. You, Reich are a @#$&ing dope.
Aug 30, 2013 11:58AM
I have an idea, let's just have a currency split.  Like a stock split.  Every dollar you have, turn it in and get two back. Your pay will also be doubled.  That should solve everything, right?  Everyone now makes twice as much.
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