Here’s a new one: McDonald’s is in the advice business. The McResource Line is a dedicated service for McDonald’s employees offering answers to a variety of questions or provide resources on topics including finances, health, housing, child care, transportation, grief, elder care, education and more. Hmm. Sounds weird to me, but maybe they really do have their employee’s best interests in mind. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.
In the wake of Walmart’s recent headlines, it was an opportunity for the other largest low-wage employer to shine in the media spotlight. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Helpful holiday tips: An entire web page (it is no longer accessible) is devoted to helpful holiday tips. Here is my favorite: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”
I know what it is to be the working poor and I can tell you I did not have ANY possessions, much less unwanted possessions. We creatively used everything we had. Low-wage earners improvise and shop at thrift stores. When something becomes unwanted, it definitely is not re-sellable or re-donatable. It is trash at that point. No one pays for trash. The average person pays to have trash hauled away.
Extending your food budget: Most of us draw upon culinary creativity when we think of extending our food budget. We find ways to extend a main dish or creatively use leftovers to make food go further. We cut back on the amount or type of meat we buy. We make our own stock from bones for homemade soups. We never buy packaged or processed foods. Even doing all of that, it can still be difficult to make food go far enough. My kids and I supplemented by eating twice a week at our church’s food program.
The McResource Line didn’t have any of these ideas as possibilities to extend your food budget. They suggested breaking apart food when you eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” Of course, that questionable piece of advice still might not be enough. That’s when they suggest applying for SNAP (food stamps). If the McDonald’s franchise you work for pays into the McResource Line service, the resource person will help you apply for SNAP and other federal assistance programs. If your franchise does not pay for that service, they only give you a number to call. Even McAdvice isn’t really free!
According to a group of labor economists from U.C. Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in a report released in October 2013, found that 52 percent of fast-food workers rely on public assistance. That’s compared with 25 percent of the rest of the population. No wonder these low-wage corporations do not want to raise the minimum wage! Why pay your employees a living wage when you can have the taxpayers pay for those supplemental needs like food (SNAP), housing, and health insurance (Medicaid).
Monthly Budgets: The McResource Line has something to offer about monthly budgets. CNN compared the McResource proposed budget with five McDonald’s employees. The McResource budget did not include food or transportation, nor did they think you should budget for heat. They suggested a second job to increase income. One employee does have a second job at another McDonald’s and it still didn’t bring him any closer to making ends meet.
Stress Reduction: The unbelievable piece of advice for McDonald’s workers to reduce stress? Take a vacation! On top of their low-wages, most McDonald’s workers do not get paid sick leave or vacation. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. I’m pretty sure the McResource budget did not include a line item for vacation either.
Finally, the pinnacle piece of advice for stress reduction about your meager paycheck: “Quit complaining,” the site suggests. “Stress hormones levels rise by 15% after 10 minutes of complaining.”
Not all employers are people of faith nor do they claim to be. There are, however, a lot of lawmakers who do claim to be Christians and are very vocal on some of these issues – minimum wage, the Affordable Care Act, SNAP and other social safety net programs – that directly impact our working poor and low-income citizens, and indirectly affect the rest of us. The Bible has a lot to say to employers about their workers and how we are to care about others. That’s up next!