Is a big change coming? Fast food workers struck today in 60 cities. They are calling for a raise from wages as low as $7.25-$8 per hour to $15, a living wage. While the issue most often cited in the media is hourly pay rate, workers are also protesting work schedules that vary in hours per week. Most importantly, they are calling for the right to join together in a union, just as the super rich join together to achieve their interests in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or ALEC.
Is their request for $15 an hour unrealistic? Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson points out that the minimum wage in 1963 was $2 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, that wage now would range between $13.39-$15.27. Over the last 30 years, the poorest working people have worked hard with less security while falling farther behind. Three cheers to the fast food workers for standing up. May many more low wage workers stand up and demand what is right.
It’s often too simple to judge job growth by the raw number of jobs gained or lost. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos breaks down this month’s statistics in a way that we should consider. I especially like a point she makes at the end of her article. We went into a deep ditch quickly. It’s unrealistic to expect a quick fix. This point is supplemented by another of Clawson’s posts on the impact of the sequester. I recommend them both as must reads.
Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson reports on strategies and tactics being used by unions and often by non-union low wage workers. Workers at Walmart and other large, low-wage corporations are fighting back. They are attacking, as one labor leader put it, by coming at employers “from every angle.”
Traditional unions are often hindered by NLRB rules. Those rules don’t apply to workers who are kept out of unions. While they have no protection from the government, non-union workers can be more creative in their quest for workplace justice and fair pay. Hopefully, as Clawson suggests, the labor movement in the U.S. will be reborn from the bottom up.