Friday, July 26, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #118 - Part 6

Outrage of the Week: McDonald's impossible "budget" for low-wage workers

McDonald's, notorious for its underpaid, overworked, employees, has decided to show how it is actually deeply concerned for their welfare. So it has partnered with Visa, the credit card corporation, to launch a website to teach its low-wage workers hour to budget so they can get by on their meager wages, which average $8.25 an hour. That works out to $17,160 a year in gross, that is, pre-tax, pay even assuming full-time, year-round work with paid vacation and sick time.

The site includes a sample “budget journal” for McDonald's employees that starts by assuming that full-time, year-round job, which you can tell because that would produce a net income of just about what the budget gives: a little over $1100 a month.

It then requires a second job - remember, this budget is for people already working a 40-hour week. If you assume the same rate of pay, it'd take another 34 hours a week to net what this budget lists. So now you're talking about a 75-hour workweek,  not include commutation.

Then look at some of the other figures:

$600 a month for rent? That won't get you a broom closet in most cities.

$20 a month for health care? Sure, if the only health care you ever require is some band-aids and a bottle of Pepto-bismol. If you want health insurance, an average plan for an individual is $215 a month. Even McDonald's company-subsidized group plan costs $14 a week - essentially triple the total this budget allows for health care.

Nothing for heating? Zero dollars?

And it doesn't even include line items for frivolities such as food or clothing.

Now, I do have to add that in response to the bad attention this has gotten, McDonald's did change one part of the budget: It now allows for $50 a month for heat - I wonder just where it is they think their employees live; what, do they all do a daily commute from Florida or someplace? The budget allows for that expense by taking money away from the "other" category.

At the site, McDonald's and VISA tell us "You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it." Because, as we all know, the only reason low-age workers struggle is that they are just to lazy to plan and lack the self-control to save.

Rarely has classism - bigotry against the poor - been on such blatant display. What an incredible outrage.

First Footnote: Interestingly, the corporate-written "budget journal," available for download at the site, includes tips on "ways to save money," which include not using an out-of-system ATM to avoid service charges. But the list does not include avoiding using a credit card to avoid interest charges and does suggest having your pay automatically deposited to a payroll card - something on which VISA makes a profit.

Second Footnote: Last year, Bloomberg News found that it would take the average McDonalds employee one million hours of work to earn as much money as the company’s CEO.


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