McDonald's made national news this spring when it held a national “hiring day” and signed on 62,000 new employees. The stunt didn't just cause gnashing of teeth over the economy, it reminded people that the fast-food chain is still the second-biggest private employer in the country. But what would it mean to work there?
Washington Post contributor Bill Donahue spent five days embedded in a McDonald's in DC run by Raul Reyes, a Guatemalan American who has turned the location into one of the region's highest-earning. Reyes' staff is predominantly Central American, and Donahue talked to them not just about their work for McDonald's but the jobs they had before McDonald's. For most, minimum-wage jobs without health benefits at a fast-food chain are a step up from what they were making before. Even Reyes, who does have health insurance, is on the job seven days a week and makes less than $40,000 a year. Yet he's resisted recruiting efforts from other restaurant chains.