After Disney, Amazon wage hikes, Bernie Sanders targets McDonald's

After Disney, Amazon wage hikes, Bernie Sanders targets McDonald's
© Greg Nash

Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke says he won't use 'f-word' on campaign trail O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (I) is taking aim at McDonald's after Amazon announced this week that it would raise its companywide minimum wage to $15 per hour, following months of pressure from Sanders and other progressives.

In a letter to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook, Sanders points to conversations he has had with company employees who he says struggle to make ends meet while working full-time for the fast food giant.

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"Today McDonald's pays wages that are so low many of its workers need Food Stamps, Medicaid, and public housing to survive," Sanders wrote in the letter. "According to one study, the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the low pay at McDonald's to the tune of $1.2 billion a year. In my view that is unacceptable."

Sanders added that as a leader of the fast food industry, McDonald's could set an example for other chains by being the first major chain to raise wages to $15 per hour companywide. He added that the chain also must do more to respect employees' demands for a union.

"If McDonald's raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour and respected the constitutional rights of your workers to form a union it would set an example for the entire fast food industry to follow," the Vermont senator wrote.

Sanders and other progressive lawmakers praised Amazon this week for its decision to raise wages for hourly employees to $15 an hour or higher after facing months of pressure on the issue.

The senator and a top House ally, California Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi-led war in Yemen Dem lawmakers unveil Journalist Protection Act amid Trump attacks on media MORE (D), introduced the "Stop Bezos Act" last month, a piece of legislation named after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos meant to punish large companies whose workers receive public assistance due to low wages.

“I’m very glad that [Bezos] took this action. He deserves a lot of credit,” Khanna told The Hill on Tuesday. "This is going to not just put money in the pocket for Amazon employees, but also set the bar for other retailers to follow.”