McDonald’s Franchisee Struggles to Offset Minimum Wage Increase

by Nick

Kerri Harper-Howie, the owner of 21 McDonald’s franchises in California, finds herself grappling with the repercussions of the state’s new minimum wage law. Effective April 1, fast food workers will receive a minimum wage of $20 per hour, a significant increase from the current rate.

While the wage hike is celebrated as a much-needed boost for lower-income workers, franchisees like Harper-Howie are feeling the financial strain. However, her frustration goes beyond mere economic concerns. She questions the fairness of singling out fast-food businesses for this wage increase while other sectors remain unaffected.


“We, as business owners, are not opposed to minimum wage increases,” Harper-Howie explains. “But why does this increase only apply to us? If the current wage isn’t sufficient for people to live on, shouldn’t everyone receive an increase? Who will be able to afford our food if our customers’ wages don’t rise accordingly?”


The genesis of Assembly Bill 1228, which mandates the wage hike, emerged from a contentious debate over workers’ rights and the legal responsibilities of fast-food franchisees. The bill ultimately resulted from negotiations between the Service Employees International Union and the California Restaurant Association, culminating in the $20 hourly rate.


In a state where the cost of living is soaring, the $16-per-hour minimum wage has been deemed inadequate by many. Assemblymember Chris Holden, the bill’s author, framed the wage increase as a means of providing essential support to working families.


“We didn’t just raise the minimum wage; we provided crucial assistance to parents, students, and grandparents alike,” Holden stated upon the bill’s signing by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2023.

Despite the purported benefits, franchise owners like Harper-Howie lament their exclusion from the negotiation process.

“At the end of the day, this law was the product of negotiations in which we had no voice,” Harper-Howie asserts. “We were not represented, and our interests were not adequately considered. With a seat at the table, we would have advocated for a more balanced approach.”


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