Aljazeera America’s Inside Story Team analyzed the recent “good news” about job growth in the U.S. The numbers are positive, but there are still big problems. Many of the new jobs are in low wage sectors, such as service and retail. Is Aljazeera just being a buzz kill, looking for bad news? Not at all. Job growth over the past few years has been highest for lower wage workers. Just as bad, many middle class Americans have seen low or no raises from year to year. I’ve had several clients whose bosses have told them some version of “be happy you have a job.” Until wages go up for the lower and middle class, the American economy will struggle. Worse still, millions of working Americans will live with a constant dread of insecurity and a feeling that they are never getting ahead. The news about unemployment is good, but for many it does not address the real problem: America needs a raise.
Aljazeera America reports that McDonald’s issued an SEC report claiming that its sales may suffer because of “campaigns by labor organizations and activists” to raise the minimum wage. This is the message the corporation sent to shareholders via the SEC report. Aljazeera quotes an industry spokesperson who says that a raise to the minimum wage would have little to no impact on McDonald’s stock price. It would have a big impact on workers’ lives. $15 per hour would have a bigger impact. We need a living wage, not a minimum wage.
Aljazeera reports that airline workers in Spain have launched a two week strike to protest planned layoffs. The strike could cost the airline, which is losing money, as much as $134 million. The logical question – the American question – is why would workers strike? Don’t they care about their jobs?
Spanish workers see through the myth of “my job.” They are standing with those who are being laid off and saying, “No more.” American airline workers have suffered greatly over the last three decades as they’ve made concession after concession, lost pensions, and watched management continue to pay itself bonuses. Maybe they should take a lesson from their brothers and sisters in Spain. Solidarity.
Aljazeera English reports that the Cuban government will lay off 500,000 employees. The communist government led by Raul Castro is turning to the private sector to generate replacement jobs. These days workers aren’t even safe in the “workers’ paradise.” What next? Will they stop drinking vodka in Russia?