McDonald’s Is Feeling The Heat, Y’all! How About We Kick It Up A Notch?
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Workonomics

Over the last year, we have posted several things about McDonald's — how it treats and pays its workers, some of its rather bizarre PR and social media schemes that totally backfired, and more. It turns out the company is feeling the pressure. In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, it admitted that “the long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses ... which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality” may affect future profits (you know, the ones paying its last CEO almost $9 million ... do you want fries with that?).

It also listed “the impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists, including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications.”


And it's not just McDonald's. Here are a few more recent victories:

  • A group of health care workers in L.A. is getting a raise to $15/hour.
  • Workers at and near SeaTac Airport in Washington state won a referendum vote to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, as well as some paid sick time.
  • NYC airport workers are moving up to $10.10/hour.
  • The Gap is raising starting wages to $10 by next year.
  • Seattle McDonald's owners and operators say they're discussing raising minimum wages at their restaurants and are not fighting wage hikes.

What does it mean?

We're winning, that's what. With every click, every share, and every picket sign outside a fast-food joint, we're changing things. As a rep from one of the organizations involved, Low Pay Is Not OK, told us recently: "When we're taking on some of the largest corporations in the world, we need a huge megaphone to amplify these fast-food and low-wage workers' demands for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference. Upworthy has played a crucial role in spreading workers' stories as well as some of our videos and graphics that show how McDonald's is out of touch with its workers. Today is proof of the impact we're having together."

Here are some of the things we've posted that generated a lot of interest and attention.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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