Tag Archives: McDonald’s

Paid sick leave: everybody’s binky for 2016

It’s been a years-long battle to enact a paid sick leave law in Vermont. The issue came close in 2015, passing the House but failing to survive the Senate. Next year? Bet on it sailing through.

As Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck reports, top Democrats (with the consicuous exception of Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, a PSL skeptic) held a news conference Wednesday at Hen of the Wood Restaurant* to announce that PSL legislation would be on top of their agenda for 2016.

*Nice work if you can get it.

The move was not at all political, no sirree. Just ask declared gubernatorial candidate, House Speaker Shap Smith:

Smith dismissed his political ambitions as a factor Wednesday. “The election has nothing to with it,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Regardless, Smith will be up against other Democratic candidates who support the concept. If he’s able guide the bill into law in 2016, that success will give him a boost in a Democratic primary race where the issue is likely to resonate.

Yup.

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McDonald’s tries to kill kale

Any kale with that?

Any kale with that?

Sad to say, but it looks like Vermont’s favorite vegetable may have jumped the shark.

McDonald’s will debut kale as an ingredient in the not-too distant future as the fast-food giant continues its efforts to adapt to changing consumer preferences, according to a recent note from Janney Capital Markets.

“Possibilities include kale for use in salads, or perhaps a kale smoothie,” wrote Janney analysts in a note to clients. “More generally, McDonald’s clearly aims to raise consumers’ perception of the quality of its food. Adding kale to the menu in some way could help be a step in this direction.”

See, Mickey D’s has a problem. More and more Americans are realizing its food is shit, so they need “to raise customers’ perception of the quality of its food.”

Please note: not necessarily the actual quality… just our perception of it. And McDonald’s has no idea what to do with kale; it just wants to do something.

Kale, thanks to Bo Muller-Moore and foodies everywhere, is a powerful image shaper. Sure, it’s nutritious and all that; but its most potent effect is on “customers’ perception.” You wouldn’t get the same bang for your buck from chard or arugula or collards.

One franchisee’s director of operations said adding kale was a good move for McDonald’s, which continues to battle negative trends domestically.

“We’re here to give what our customers want,” he said. “If that’s what our customers want, we’ll give it to them.”

I guess they’ve finally gotten sick of mystery meat. Maybe this kale stuff will help.

The price we pay for cheap crap

Two news items on a single theme: Big Mac Mystery Meat, and toxic baubles.

Second one first, ‘cuz there’s a direct Vermont connection. Two-Fisted™ Attorney General Bill Sorrell has filed suit against Dollar Tree, purveyor of cheap crap and nothing but cheap crap, “for selling jewelry that contains toxic substances.”

What’s more, DT is a repeat offender. Sorrell says the bottom-barrel retailer is in violation of an earlier agreement to stop selling jewelry with unacceptably high levels of lead and cadmium. Charming. Sorrell’s office says the chain has sold “over 30,000 individual items… through its stores in Barre, Bennington, Burlington, Derby/Newport, and Rutland.”

The original 2010 settlement arose from what the AG’s office calls “a growing awareness… that many products imported from China and other countries contained toxic substances.” And the release adds, not at all reassuringly, that

“…although Dollar Tree routinely requires the testing of products it purchases for resale to consumers, its testing protocol does not ensure that all items of jewelry sold in its stores are free of toxic substances.”

Uh-huh. They require testing, but their testing program “does not ensure” the safety of their customers. I guess if they had a really thorough testing program, that’d interfere with the free and open flow of cheap crap. Which probably violates Dollar Tree’s constitutional right of free speech. Heck, if money is speech, isn’t a commercial transaction also speech?

On to Mystery Meat. McDonald’s, purveyor of oddly gray “hamburgers,” is portraying itself as “a bit deceived” over an audit of a Chinese meat supplier. The Daily Mail reports that Shanghai Husi Food was shut down after “a TV report showed workers apparently picking up meat from the factory floor, as well as mixing meat beyond its expiration date with fresh produce.” Yum, yum!

Mickey D’s CEO Don Thompson says “We are no longer serving product from the primary facility there that has the challenges and the issues.” I should hope so.

But that’s not the bad news. The bad news is this, from CNBC:

McDonald’s and many other food companies rely on third parties to perform audits to check whether facilities are complying with food safety rules and other regulations. It is not uncommon for suppliers at the center of food safety scandals to have received high marks on their audits.

Apparently, a whole lot of weak links in our food chain is the hidden price we pay for Cheap McCrap. And cheap pizza and “chicken,” since KFC and Pizza Hut have also served meat from Husi’s factory floor and compost heap.

At least they didn’t find elevated levels of lead or cadmium. Then again, how can we be sure they’re testing for that?

Oh, and let’s add Item 2.1 to my list: the opening of Pier 1 in South Burlington, bringing a whole world of cheap crap to one convenient location. Not to mention screwing its workers:

Long-time Williston resident Jeffery Fucci… will manage the new store, leading a team of approximately 35-40 associates. Associate hours fluctuate based on the needs of the business and the season.

That’s right, folks. All the “associates” will see their hours fluctuate “based on the needs of the business.” Yay, more crappy jobs for Vermont!