The New York Times reports that 1,500 McDonalds restaurants will raising employees' pay by $1 over local minimum wages. The company will also offer paid time off to employees who stay with the company more than a year. This move comes just a day after another round of major protests. The raise is not enough, but it shows that employers will listen when workers stand up. May many more workers stand up for their rights and to be paid a fair wage. There is still a very long way to go.
P.S. I should have noted yesterday that only McDonalds-owned franchises will raise their minimum wage. There are over 14,000 McDonalds restaurants that are owned by franchisees, who make their own decisions about salary. To their credit, the corporation has set a good example for them - as far as it goes.
Last week The Chicago Tribune reported that several large companies are bringing their call centers back to the U.S. While more Americans will be employed because of this shift, the news isn't all good. Many call centers pay low wages and offer little in the way of benefits or career path. Call center workers need to be smart and articulate. They have to solve problems while an angry customer often lashes out at them. How much are they paid for this service. According to the Tribune article, the average pay is $22,000 to $45,000 per year ($11 to $22 per hour). America needs these jobs. It also needs a raise.
Recently I posted on a debate between union leaders and restaurant owners over the minimum wage. That debate focused on what workers earn. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos flips the question: Let’s look at the earnings of restaurant CEOs. Between 2006-2013, incomes of large corporate restaurant CEOs increased from 621% ratio to the minimum wage to 721%. Clawson notes that these well-paid CEOs often hire well-paid lobbyists to sell their sob stories. As I noted in my last post on this topic, a business person who owns a hot dog stand or small restaurant might have a different argument. CEOs of large corporations can’t make the same claim. They have taken raises and bonuses while their employees have been forced to apply for food stamps and Medicaid. America needs a raise.
Fast food workers stuck in 7 cities across the U.S. today. Common Dreams reports that this could be the biggest strike of its kind ever to take place. Workers, many of whom are only making the minimum hourly wage of $7.25, are calling for a living wage of $15 per hour. At first, it sounds shocking that anyone would ask to have their wages doubled. However, it’s not that big a challenge.
Writing in Huffington Post, Caroline Fairchild reports that it would be fairly to double the wage of McDonald’s workers. The price of a Big Mac would go up by all of .68, which would double the wage of all workers in the company, including CEO Donald Thompson, who takes home $8.75 million per year (probably with a few extra million in stock options tossed in). It wouldn’t take much to help those most in need of a raise.
If we dug just a little deeper and paid a little more, an army of consumers would lift this economy without any government intervention. For this to happen, large companies like McDonalds and Walmart would need to do two things: First raise prices a little. Second, pass the wealth along to their employees. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
I received a petition request from MoveOn that should be considered for its content, even if you decide not to support. Workers in the service industry really work in harsh conditions. They survive by tips. And they are often go unpaid when restaurants fail. Here is the letter - judge for yourself.
Dear MoveOn member,
You probably know that when you order a meal in restaurant, the person who brings you the food is generally paid less than minimum wage. Tips are supposed to make up the difference.
Here's the problem: Minimum wage for tipped employees is an appalling $2.13 an hour. And for millions of people who work in the restaurant industry, tips don't come close to providing a living wage.
This is not a small problem. Almost one-third of food workers don't have enough money to buy enough safe and nutritious food to meet their needs. The people who make and serve your food literally may be going hungry.
Next week, we'll be at a press conference in Washington, D.C. with key members of Congress, launching a big push to raise the minimum wage for food workers and restaurant employees.
To win this campaign, it's critical that we be able to walk on stage with momentum—that means tens of thousands of folks like you standing with us.
We can do this, but not without grassroots support. That's why I created a petition on SignOn.org to Congress, which says:
Raising the minimum wage for the benefit of 29 million low-wage workers would increase food costs at most by 10 cents a day for consumers.
As a consumer, I am willing to pay an extra dime a day for my food so that close to eight million food system workers and 21 million additional low-wage workers can receive a much-deserved raise to help them meet their basic needs.
I ask that you support the Miller-Harkin Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80/hour over the next 3 years and the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to 70% of the regular minimum wage.