McDonald, Kerri Harper-Howie

McDonald’s Franchisee Grapples With Wage Hike, Vows To Keep Prices Affordable

McDonald's franchisees in California are at the forefront of a contentious debate surrounding the state's new minimum wage law.

Kerri Harper-Howie, the proprietor of 21 McDonald’s franchises in California, finds herself at the forefront of a contentious debate surrounding the state’s new minimum wage law, which mandates a significant increase for fast food workers. However, Harper-Howie’s frustration stems not only from the financial implications but also from what she perceives as unfair targeting of franchise owners like herself, according to KTLA 5.

The new law, set to take effect on April 1, will raise the minimum wage for McDonald’s and other fast food workers to $20 an hour, a substantial jump from the current rate. While this increase is hailed as a victory for low-income workers, franchisees like Harper-Howie face challenges in adjusting to the higher labor costs.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 1228, emerged from negotiations between the Service Employees International Union and the California Restaurant Association, ultimately resulting in the $20 hourly rate. However, franchise owners like Harper-Howie feel excluded from the decision-making process.

“At the end of the day, this law came to pass as a result of negotiations. We were not a part of those negotiations,” Harper-Howie lamented. “We did not feel as though we had someone in the room advocating on our behalf.”

Harper-Howie, whose family has a deep-rooted history with McDonald’s, is committed to keeping prices affordable for her customers, many of whom reside in lower-income neighborhoods. Despite the looming wage hike, she vows to explore alternative efficiencies rather than resorting to significant price increases.

“It’s not the only thing that we’re doing because the truth of the matter is, you can’t raise prices enough. It would be unaffordable,” she explained. “There are cost savings that we can implement behind the scenes, and other ways to be more efficient … but this means less profitability for us, and we will absorb that. We will take less.”

As the deadline for the wage hike approaches, Harper-Howie’s stance reflects broader concerns within the fast-food industry about balancing labor costs with affordability.

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