The Reason Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Just Slammed McDonald's

The political paparazzi isn't likely to catch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulling up to a McDonald's drive-thru any time soon — at least not in America. Ocasio-Cortez has frequently gone public with blunt feedback regarding the fast food chain, and it has nothing to do with not liking McDonald's fries.

As businesses in the US return to normal as COVID-19 guidelines ease, McDonald's (like many fast food chains) appears to be having difficulty finding workers. One franchisee in Florida even paid people to show up for job interviews (via Insider). Another restaurant posted a sign offering new employees free iPhones (via New York Post).

Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Congress member who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens in New York, doesn't feel sorry for McDonald's, though. She took to Twitter to call out the company for yet another worker shortage sign posted in a restaurant window. The sign, Tweeted by @ztsamudzi, reads, "Effective immediately, we will not be opening until 7 a.m. I am sorry about this, but we just don't have enough employees. As soon as we do, we will open again at 6." AOC Tweeted in response, "'It's almost impossible to find workers,' say at-will employers refusing to offer living wages, sick/hazard pay, parental leave, or reliable schedules while rents, childcare costs, & student debt reach record highs."

Entry-level McDonald's workers make between $9 and $10 an hour, according to Indeed. In March, Ocasio-Cortez said McDonald's in Denmark was making the US look bad by paying $22 an hour (actually, more like $21), per MarketWatch.

Others blame unemployment benefits for McDonald's worker shortage

McDonald's announced recently that it was going to increase starting wages to $11 an hour or more, depending on location (via The Independent). McDonald's also said wages at all company-owned restaurants would be at least $15 an hour by 2024. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been among many calling for a mandatory $15 minimum living wage, but she was not impressed with McDonald's announcement for the fact that it doesn't apply to the 95% of restaurants owned by franchisees. "We're not buying it," she said. "If you want to look like you're raising wages to $15 an hour, then you should actually raise wages to $15 an hour, for every McDonald's worker in this country, minimum."

Some others in Congress, largely Republicans, have a different take on McDonald's struggle to fill positions. They say the extra unemployment benefits the federal government has been paying to help people through the pandemic are creating an incentive to stay unemployed rather than look for a job (via HuffPost). But, as it turns out, restaurants have had trouble finding and keeping workers since before the pandemic. HuffPost suggested the reason for this is that the median pay for restaurant workers is less than half the overall median income in America.

"The industry has what I call a pre-existing condition prior to the pandemic. It already was the lowest-paying industry in the US," Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage and director of the Berkeley Food Labor Research Center, told HuffPost, showing the issue is likely to continue to heat up.