We stop at McDonalds from time to time, mostly for their McCafe offerings. We don’t care for the froufrou stuff. No caramel drizzle or whipped cream for us. We’re back to basics, kids… a reasonably good, large coffee with lots of cream… for $1.00 in our neck of the woods… and we’re on our way. We notice there’s always a mix of folks working there… young, old, really old, browns and whites, blacks and reds and yellows (we haven’t noticed any green yet, but I’m sure they’d be welcome), boys, girls, men, women, gay, straight, bi, non-specified. It’s a United Nations of races, ethnicities, ages and sexual orientations.
The other day when we stopped in, I took at look at one of their tray placemats. ‘Free to be more.’ was the header. ‘Committed to being America’s Best First Job.” was the caption in the lower right corner. It might well be that it’s also America’s Best Last Job based on one of the fellows working there, but that’s beside the point.
The placemat was full of good, useful information, especially for young workers. In our area, it’s also aimed at non-English speakers. McDonald’s offers free ESL classes on line for its employees and their families. They also offer classes on line to earn GED high school diplomas and again other family members are also eligible.
After working 90 days and averaging at least 15 hours/week at their local store, employees can receive up to “$2,500/year in tuition assistance paid directly to any accredited four-year university, community college or trade school ($3,000 for managers)”. There are some prerequisites, of course, like having graduated from high school, maintaining a 2.7 GPA, having financial need (based on FAFSA submission), but in general, if you want to go to college and can’t afford it, McDonald’s will help. How great is this? We’re not fast food fans at all, but a good portion of America is and it’s always good to know that some of those profit dollars are going back to community.
My first job was in a textile factory (read that ‘sweat shop’...literally) for minimum wage... $1.25/hour with no benefits. David worked at Dairy Queen for 75¢ an hour. Times have changed. Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Nevada’s minimum wage is $8.25/hour and McDonald’s pays their ‘crew members’ $8.81/hour on average in Las Vegas. Not great, but not bad either. You can’t support a family on $18K a year, but a student working part time could do worse.
We’ve heard of the Ronald McDonald House Charities in the past, but didn’t know that educational support was part of the charitable package. Since 1999, $4.3M in scholarships have been awarded to students in the greater Las Vegas area. I’m sure that’s a small percentage of their local revenues and I’m sure some of the scholarships are matched by local industry and other charitable donations, but I’m still impressed that kids working at McDonalds have this opportunity.
I’m sure many of you are thinking of Fast Food Nation and all the negatives of McDonalds and fast food in America. I won’t debate the negatives with you, but being the optimist I am, I like the positive impact that companies can have on young employees by teaching teamwork, customer service and relations and can-do attitudes. Placing an emphasis on education in the workplace is often more than our local and state governments do. Nevada’s education system, by the way, has ranked last in the nation for two consecutive years (2017-2018). Sad commentary on a gambling-rich state.
And just in case you were wondering, no, we do not get free Big Macs for this endorsement.