Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi Has Battled the $15 Minimum Wage Idea for Years

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Jun. 15 2021, Published 7:52 a.m. ET

The Jun. 10 spike in “Ed Rensi net worth” Google searches suggests a lot of people want to know the wealth of the guy who just ranted about a $15 minimum wage on television.

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Unfortunately, the former McDonald’s CEO’s net worth isn’t publicly available. Wallmine estimated that Rensi’s net worth was at least $1.06 million as of Dec. 2018, but that estimate seems low given his long tenure as an executive at McDonald’s and even longer tenure as a board member.

Rensi argued against the $15 minimum wage on Fox Business earlier this month—three days before the Google search spike—but he’s been an outspoken critic of that minimum wage hike for years now. Here’s more about the businessman.

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Rensi worked his way up from McDonald’s grill man to CEO in 35 years

According to his speaker bio, Rensi joined McDonald’s as a “grill man” and part-time manager trainee in 1966, working at one of the fast-food chain’s locations in Columbus, Ohio. Within a year, he was restaurant manager, and he went on to “hold nearly every position in the restaurant and field offices,” his bio touts.

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After stints as district manager, regional manager, and regional vice president, Rensi moved to McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., and became vice president of operations and training in 1978. He then became executive vice president in 1980, senior executive vice president in 1982, president and COO in 1984, and CEO of McDonald’s in 1991.

Rensi’s bio also says he enhanced the McDonald’s breakfast menu, developed Chicken McNuggets, the McChicken sandwich, and Extra Value Meal, and expanded the drive-thru concept. During his 13-year presidency, sales at U.S. McDonald’s locations doubled to more than $16 billion, and the number of U.S. locations nearly doubled to more than 12,000.

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He believes a higher minimum wage would mean fewer jobs

Speaking on Fox Business on Jun. 7, Rensi connected McDonald’s increased hourly wage with its testing of automated technology in restaurants, warning that automation will soon replace workers.

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“The higher the minimum wage goes federally, the higher their union contracts go,” he said. “You got the Service International Workers Union going out to McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s like crazy. What are they going to do for those quick service restaurant workers? They’re going to force the cost of labor up, which means it’s going to force management to find alternatives, which means they’re going to lose jobs. And technology is always cheaper than people.”

Rensi’s opposition to the “Fight for $15” goes back years

Rensi sang a familiar tune back in 2016, when he wrote an opinion piece for Forbes titled “Thanks To ‘Fight For $15’ Minimum Wage, McDonald’s Unveils Job-Replacing Self-Service Kiosks Nationwide.” He argued that "the push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them."

Patriotic Millionaires’ Kelsea-Marie Pym took issue with Rensi’s diatribes, though, writing, “Ed Rensi is trying any and everything to stop the tides of change. This includes exploiting a few long-standing misconceptions to keep Americans divided by fear rather than united by progress. Rensi pits an already restricted group of franchise owners against labor activists, crossing his fingers they will take the lead in a battle against those in favor of a $15 minimum wage when threatened with shrinking profits.”

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