Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Thursday called on McDonald's to require its franchisees to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all of their workers.
Sanders indicated that he would mount the same type of public pressure campaign on McDonald's that he did for Amazon, which announced Tuesday that it would adopt a $15 beginning wage.
"Today McDonald's pays wages that are so low that many of its workers need food stamps, Medicaid and public housing," he claimed in a letter Thursday to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook. He noted that the corporation reported $5.1 billion in profits that year. "If McDonald's can afford to give its shareholders $7.7 billion in dividends, it can afford to pay all of its workers $15 an hour."
Sanders said his office had been meeting with workers and gathering stories from them regarding difficult conditions they work under and the strains caused by low pay. He solicited the same type of testimony from Amazon employees in August.
[Opinion: Amazon's corrupt minimum wage ploy]
According to the website glassdoor.com, which tracks pay rates by major companies, the average rate for a McDonald's crew member or cashier is $8 an hour, not much higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
More than 90 percent of McDonald's restaurants are privately owned businesses that only rent out the corporate brand.
A spokesman for the company did not directly respond to Sanders' letter but said in a statement to the Washington Examiner the company provides "opportunities for restaurant employees to succeed at McDonald’s and beyond with world-class training and education programs to help them build the skills needed for today’s workforce."
The statement added that the benefits given to employees "show McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.”