Denmark McDonald's Workers Get Paid Vastly Higher Wages

Hayley Peterson

Fast food workers across the globe have been holding protests and walking out on their jobs in an attempt to force the industry to raise wages to at least $15 an hour. 

In response to the protests, McDonald's, one of the largest fast food chains in the world, has warned that wage increases would force franchisees to raise menu prices.

But in Denmark, McDonald's employees make twice what they do in the U.S., and the Big Mac costs just 35 cents more, William Finnegan writes in the New Yorker.

McDonald's workers in the U.S. make a median hourly wage of $9.15, according a New York Times report citing PayScale, a firm that tracks compensation data. McDonald's does not provide data on its wages.

"In Denmark, McDonald's workers over the age of eighteen earn more than $20 an hour — they are also unionized — and the price of a Big Mac is only thirty-five cents more than it is in the United States," Finnegan writes. 

Thanks to unionization, workers in Denmark also get paid sick leave and overtime pay. 

On average, the Big Mac costs about $4.80 in the U.S. and $5.15 in Denmark, according to the Economist's Big Mac index, which tracks the price of Big Macs across the world.

There are also domestic fast food chains, such as In-N-Out Burger, that have managed to pay employees more than McDonald's while still selling food at cheap prices, Finnegan points out. In-N-Out's starting wages are $11 an hour.

Fast food companies' "traditional defense of miserable pay — that most of their employees are young, part time, just working for gas money, really — has grown threadbare," Finnegan writes.

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