Fast Food Worker To McDonald's CEO: I Can't Feed My Kids

Makes $8.25 per hour after 10 years

McDonald's Employee Confronts Executive: I Can't Afford Shoes For My  Children

Challenging the CEO of a major corporation in a public venue would seem to be one of the fastest ways to hit the unemployment line. For Nancy Salgado, it at least got her a dismissive answer and alleged threat of being arrested when the McDonald's cashier publicly shamed chain CEO Jeff Stratton, and she doesn't know whether she'll pay with her job. So why do it?

According to a video interview she gave to, it's because she's at her wit's end. "Sometimes I can't provide a gallon of milk" for her two kids, the single mother said. After ten years of working for the company since she was 16, she claims to have never received a raise, still earning $8.25 for between 30 and 40 hours a week.

According to MIT's Living Wage Calculator, the living wage for a single adult with two children in Cook County, which includes Chicago, is $25.51 an hour, while $8.80 an hour would be considered a poverty wage. Minimum wage in the state is $8.25 an hour.

Stratton was speaking at the Union League Club of Chicago, whose website states that the organization "enriches members lives and improves the world by creating extraordinary opportunities for camaraderie, personal enrichment and meaningful community involvement."

"I'm a single mother of two. It's really hard for me to feed my two kids and struggle day to day," Salgado said in the video. "Do you think this is fair that I have to be making $8.25 when I've been working at McDonald's for 10 years?"

Stratton answered, "I've been there 40 years," getting some applause from the audience according to a Chicago Tribune report. Stratton, 57 reportedly started at McDonald's as a teenager at $1.60 an hour, held various positions in the company, and assumed the top role in 2005.

However, an organization like McDonald's has relatively few management positions when compared to the number of line workers. And a recent report by the National Employment Law Project says that today's fast food worker has "virtually no chance of advancement" in the field.

According to report, Salgado and six others were given tickets for trespassing. In her interview, when asked what would be a fair amount, Salgado said $15 an hour.

The $15 an hour figure is one that has been offered by labor, clergy, and community groups that have backed repeated walkouts and protests at fast food establishments around the country.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 2.9 million food preparation and serving workers, which includes fast food. The average hourly wage is $9, with half of workers making less than $8.78 an hour.

Although often defended as entry-level jobs for younger people, statistics suggest that fast food work has become an adult occupation, with a median age of 28, about one in four that have at least one child. In addition, like Salgado, many do not receive fulltime employment, meaning that their economic plights are even worse.

When adjusted for inflation, the picture is even grimmer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, fast food wages in real terms have been dropping steadily since 2009. Any degree of economic recovery the country has seen has not translated into an improvement.

Salgado claimed that her hours were cut after the protest, according to

Correction: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect figure for the Illinois state minimum wage.

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Ken MacDougall

I have no sympathy go get a real job. In 10 years you had time to make children but none to take a vocational class or any kind of training to better yourself. I read this as McDonald's CEO on top of all of the government subsidy I receive I am also not making enough from you. On top of all of the poor choices I have made I stayed with this company not out of loyalty out of laziness, never doing anything better for myself or my offspring. I think I'm going to puke.

February 27 2014 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This does not jive with the claims the CEO was making on a business channel a few weeks back. He was claiming much higher wages than the minimum wages. MCD makes tons of profit and the stock is sky high. Each well paid employee likely praises the company and spreads the goodwill to 10 people. MCD can afford to pay this lady at least $12-15 per hour. Rememebr what Henry Ford did?

January 16 2014 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jerry Brienza, she might have been married or coupled when the had the kids and now broken up/divorced. did you think of that? She might not have planned on this as a career, but was not able to afford college.

November 01 2013 at 7:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jerry Brienza, you're well out of order! Not to mention pompous, uncaring and self-righteous!

October 22 2013 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jerry brienza

She worked for the company for 10 years, since the age of 16! She knew she couldn't afford two kids when she had them, and now she blames the company for the situation she put herself in. She didn't buy a Cadillac, because she can't afford it! She didn't buy a yacht, because she can't afford it! But she had no problem having two kids she can't afford! The lesson is: do not have children you can't afford!!

October 19 2013 at 9:33 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why have you stayed so long with McDonalds why can't you find a better job get an education
youv'e got two kids and you make $8/ hour great decision making does the kids father work
and how did you manage to own a home . If they pay you $15 and raise the prices and customers stop coming in
you'll be without a job. its a fast food co. for gods sake . make out a resume and go find a job !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 16 2013 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jamesoffkilter's comment

Point by point:
Sometimes the job schedules prevent even getting an education.
"Hostile" work schedules can rotate shifts so the same days per week are only worked every other week, and the early/late shifts can be part of the rotation as well. Why rotate? "To be fair to all the workers." (i.e. No one gets "stuck" on a shift favoring weekends or days, etc.).

Two kids... even with birth control, stuff happens. My wife taught special ed kids at high school, and the employed kids in her classes thought they had the world by the tail BECAUSE they had a job at McDonalds, and thought they might get married after they graduated. (Can we say "low expectations"?) EVERY time she asked for a "parent conference", no one, including the grandparent/aunt/cousin/sibling(s) they were living with could attend, usually because of their JOBS, (yes, more than one job), or they actively opposed the kids wasting their time at school.
BTW, one of the students in a class was brought to school every day from jail, in handcuffs, in a marked police car, then returned to jail the same way after school; there was no possibility of a student/parent conference with that student, (juvenile, non-violent offender BTW).

It is possible a home can be inherited, or gifted, (welcome to the increasing "wealth" gap). If so, only taxes and utilities would be owed to live there, and moving for a job would be an obstacle, because housing expenses would increase anywhere else.

My wife was TOLD she could not correct things in her students' written papers, or deduct points (and was written up for marking corrections on their papers) like spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, gender, tenses, sentence and paragraph structure, etc.. She showed me one of the papers that was full of "street language", was two pages long, and had only two periods in the entire essay. These same kids were high school juniors and seniors, and were, or would be graduating in a year or less. BTW, her best student was expelled three days before the graduation ceremony for selling drugs on street corners; one of the school's vice-principals noticed the boy's "bling" and followed him after school, and called the police.
So much for "no child left behind" in the public education system. There was almost no chance any of her students could even fill out a job application without multiple errors, never mind write a job resume.

In real life, a manager working in a big box home store realized I was college educated, and asked me to correct his resume he was submitting to get a transfer to a new store closer to his home. (He got the transfer.) Why was I working there? I got laid off from a high tech job in the economic "tech bubble" crash, and there simply was no hiring, AND I was caring for my elderly Mother-In-Law (my wife was an only child, and had died four years prior to the layoff), so I really couldn't even relocate, (or sell my house then for that matter).

October 17 2013 at 7:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to M's comment

You're the voice of reason in a wilderness of self-righteousness and spite. God bless you!

October 22 2013 at 10:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

Pray tell, how does one just "get an education"? How does she afford college in this circumstance? How can you judge when you don't know her situation? Maybe no one took her aside and told her the steps -- the ACT, applications, FAFSA, etc. to get into college, so she didn't know. She was supposed to automatically know that at 18 without anyone mentoring her or teaching her? Maybe she went to a ghetto high school where they don't steer kids toward college out of racism or sheer ugliness.

November 01 2013 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lady put a aspirin between your knees and hold it there forever.

October 16 2013 at 3:51 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to aswengin's comment

EXACTLY! When she decided her carnal urges out weighed her ability to support herself or a child, she made a selfish decision!

This is typical behaviour, "its not my fault, you need to support me." This lack of self responsibility is fostered by inner city areas, such as Chicago, Detroit, etc. The governments in those areas encourage this attitude by providing every entitlement they can think of!

October 17 2013 at 8:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tim's comment

She never said, "You need to support me," she essentially said, "I have worked for you for ten years and I require fair compensation for that service so I can live."

November 01 2013 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

oneys that is so wrong, yes in a perfect world would of been nice for the father to be around and chip in too but since he isn't it seems, the children are still there and it doesn't give mcdonalds the rights to let someone work there for 10yrs and still only making 8.25, there are many questions and blames to put upon her and even if macdonalds gave her 10.00 or 15.00 doing the math she is still too low to support her family and blaming companies for low wages for people who have children most definately need to think before of how they will support them....definately someone at a 8.00 job shouldn't have kids, you can barely afford yourself

October 16 2013 at 1:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gladymills1@aol.'s comment


Your whole premise is wrong. Very likely this irresponsible women does NOT work for McDonalds, but a franchisee.

Therefore her vocalization is only an attempt to garner her 15 minutes of fame!

October 17 2013 at 9:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

even if wages went to 15.00 the next problem is taxes, medical is removed, its still not enough money

October 16 2013 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why does she say she can not support 2 children on her wages ...what about HER HUSBAND THE FATHER OF THE 2 KIDS doesn't he bring home a pay check too....???? This is unskilled labor she is lucky to make 8.25 most people only get the minimum 7.25 !!!

October 16 2013 at 10:42 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to oney6's comment

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