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McDonald’s will no longer lobby against minimum wage hikes

In a super-tight job market, McDonald’s has to do more to attract and keep workers. Giving up its fight against minimum wage hikes could help.

McDonald’s announced this week it will no longer lobby against raising workers’ pay. The company shared the news in a letter to the National Restaurant Association, which represents companies in the food-service industry, on Tuesday. The letter was first obtained by Politico.

“Going forward, McDonald’s Corporation will not use our resources, including lobbyists or staff, to oppose minimum wage increases at the federal, state or local levels,” wrote Genna Gent, vice president of US government relations for the company. “Nor will we participate in the association advocacy efforts designed expressly to defeat wage increases.”

She added that McDonald’s thinks increases should be “phased in.”

The association said in a statement “our members are as diverse as the communities they serve, and the economies of every region are different.”

The average starting salary for employees at corporate-owned stores is above $10 per hour, Gent noted, adding that McDonald’s doesn’t set wages at franchises.

Many companies are raising pay to get ahead of regulations and hire and retain employees. Workers are less attracted to low-paying jobs in a labor market with sub-4% unemployment.

In the letter, Gent touted a number of McDonald’s policies that could prove attractive to workers, like paid time away from work and flexible schedules, among other things.

McDonald’s has long been targeted by wage increase activists. The Fight for 15, which organizes protests and pressures companies to raise their hourly minimum wages to $15, has pushed McDonald’s to make a change.

For some labor advocates, including Senator Bernie Sanders, the move is a step in the right direction.

“This is a victory for thousands of workers,” Sanders wrote in a tweet responding to the news. “We will keep fighting until McDonald’s workers and all others are paid a living wage of at least $15 an hour,” he added.

“It’s a welcome statement,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, senior attorney with the National Employment Law Project. She noted that though there is support for raising the minimum wage at state and national levels, industry lobbying against change has been a “stumbling block.”

“If there’s less opposition coming from industry … that’ll make it even easier to pass some of these increases,” she said.

McDonald’s raised the salaries of about 90,000 workers in 2015. The company said at the time that starting wages would be at least $1 an hour more than the minimum wage set by local law.

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