McDonald’s is making it harder for outsiders to see the advice it gives its employees on how to get by on the poverty wages the company pays. The company’s “McResource Line” for workers will remain accessible by phone, but the fast food chain took its McResource website offline indefinitely this week according to CNBC.
The website was taken down in part because of “unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary” directed toward the company’s interactions with its workforce, a company spokesperson said in a statement. “A combination of factors has led us to re-evaluate, and we’ve directed the vendor to take down the website. Between links to irrelevant or outdated information, along with outside groups taking elements out of context, this created unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary,” the statement said. “We’ll continue to provide service to them through an internal telephone help line, which is how the majority of employees access the McResource services.”
McDonalds’ online outreach to its workforce has brought notoriety to the fast food giant more than once in 2014. Before it was shut down this week, the McResource site had advised McDonald’s workers to avoid holiday debt by selling their Christmas presents for cash, and warned them not to eat fast food. McResource also advised workers to break their food into small pieces as a way of tricking themselves into feeling full, and suggested that workers “sing away stress.”
The separate website that features a sample budget for McDonald’s workers remains live. That site is a joint project with Visa, which provides the prepaid debit cards that employees can opt to receive instead of paychecks. The budget recommendations accidentally prove McDonald’s critics’ point that the company pays too little for a full-time worker to live on, as ThinkProgress previously reported. It includes no allotment for heat or food or clothing, and features unrealistically low estimates for the costs of health care and rent.
Both the budgeting site and the broader advice at McResource underscore what activists and workers have been saying all year: fast food wages are unlivable and must rise. The industry’s median wage is $8.69 per hour, well below the earnings threshold associated with poverty. Low wages in the fast food business push people who work full time onto public assistance programs, costing taxpayers a quarter-trillion dollars each year. That means that the public is subsidizing McDonalds’ ability to pay so poorly, and that subsidy is so large that a single year of it could pay for universal pre-school education for the next 25 years.
Numbers like these and absurd anecdotes like those provided by McDonald’s employee websites this year are helping to drive the push for an increase in the minimum wage, which has included the largest fast food strikes in history and a number of state and local legislative efforts. While minimum wage opponents insist that McDonald’s and its competitors can’t afford to pay living wages, the company makes a handsome profit in higher wage countries while still charging about the same amount for a hamburger.