by Brian Rogers
There’s been no shortage of criticism over McDonald’s food for the detrimental effects it can have on one’s health. Now, a group of international unions is using a brand new website to add fuel to another decade-old criticism of the fast food giant.
Last month, on Feb. 22, The International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), along with LabourStart, launched the website mcjobs.org.
The word “McJob” is not new though, and because of its negative connotations has never made McDonald’s CEOs comfortable.
The Oxford English Dictionary included the word as far back as in its 1986 edition, defining it as “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary changed the definition slightly to: “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.”
Ironically, McJOBS was originally used as a brand name, coined by McDonald’s in the early 1980s for use in programs dedicated to training people with disabilities to work in restaurants.
According to an email distributed by LabourStart founder Eric Lee, McDonald’s bought the domain name mcjobs.com in an attempt to keep “McJob” from spawning its own website. But Lee said that they forgot to acquire mcjobs.org, and the IUF bought it so they could “provide a forum for McDonald’s workers all over the world to share their experiences of working in the fast food chain.”
Like many McDonald’s employees, Stephanie Heglin started working for the fast food company in Regina while still in high school. At 16, Heglin said she was looking for an easy place to work, to make a little bit of money.
Heglin said almost all of her coworkers were young. The wage wasn’t great. She started at minimum wage, which was about $6 an hour at the time. She said the company would give small raises every three months. The maximum raise would be 20 cents, but hardly anyone ever got the maximum. Instead, workers would usually get between 10 and 15 cents.
Heglin stayed with the company for over two and a half years. “I enjoyed my co-workers, and the hours worked well with my schedule,” she said.
Although she had never heard the term “McJob” before, Heglin admitted the dictionary definition is fairly accurate. On top of the low wages, Heglin said the hours could be difficult. “Sometimes I’d have to work until four a.m., or start at four in the morning,” she said.
As far as advancement in the company though, Heglin disagreed with the dictionary’s assessment. She said it wasn’t necessarily hard to advance upwards in the company. She was asked to become a manager at one point, at a higher wage, but she turned it down because she couldn’t work that many hours.
“As long as you put yourself out there and worked hard, it was easy to move up,” said Heglin.