The Fight to Increase Minimum Wage in the Fast-Food Industry


The rash of layoffs and furloughs in the fast-food industry over the pandemic has given way to a nationwide hiring spree as lockdown restrictions ease and companies attempt to attract applicants back. But the pandemic also gave rise to increased labor advocacy and activism, with workers who had been categorized as “essential workers” still grappling with low wages, minimal benefits, and paltry workplace protections, making it difficult for fast-food chains to lure back workers. Industry giants McDonald’s and Chipotle recently (and somewhat begrudgingly) increased their minimum wage to help incentivize applicants—all the while claiming that the wage hikes would ultimately be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices (these claims do not mention that both companies awarded executives last year with significant bonuses and pay increases). This case goes over the movement to raise the minimum wage and asks students to discuss whether more companies will follow McDonald’s and Chipotle’s lead.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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