Life is settle a matter of white and black. Hobby Lobby has come under fire for its role in the Supreme Court’s decision that will let the company not pay for certain kinds of birth control. As someone who supports workers’ rights, this case bothers me and makes me afraid that much worse is to come from the Supreme Court. On the issue of minimum wage, however, Hobby Lobby is something of a trailblazer. According to Demos, a left-leaning think tank, the company raised its minimum wage to $14 per hour in 2013. Demos points out that Hobby Lobby will win greater worker loyalty by paying a higher wage. It also is closed on Sunday, which means that every employee gets that day off. However, a year later, the company has lost some of that good will by its stance on paying for birth control options. An employee who is forced to pay for contraception might resent this restriction and the religious motivation behind it. My fear is that the Hobby Lobby case and other recent Supreme Court decisions will let companies take even more liberties with workers’ rights. What if a company says that its religious beliefs require women to dress a certain way? What if a company refuses to hire gays based on religious beliefs? I can’t argue with what Hobby Lobby pays as a minimum wage, but the Supreme Court's decision that a company’s religious beliefs puts us on a very slippery slope.
Writing in Daily Kos¸ Meteor Blades reports that our focus on more jobs may be missing a bigger problem. The economy has added jobs. The problem is that more and more of them tend to be part-time or paid at lower wages. Blades cites a this eye-popping statistic: In 2008 4.7 million Americans were employed part-time. That number is now, just five years later, 7.8 million. Even more shocking, the retail industry has cut one million jobs since 2006 and only added 500,000 part-time jobs.
Recent economic news has sounded good: more people working, improved housing market, and more factory orders. None of this happy talk will matter if employees keep getting squeezed on income. My clients tend to be professionals with college degrees. Over the last year too many to count have told stories of going 3-5 years with no increase in pay. If this continues, the chickens will come to roost.