Target has announced that it will pay its employees a minimum wage of $9 an hour. It’s easy to dismiss this move as being too little. Instead, I like to look at it as a small step that will have big consequences. Employer who pay less than $9 an hour now have to fear that they will lose employees to America’s two largest retailers. More importantly, wage increases at the bottom raise the bar for all workers. If the unemployment rate continues to drop, wages will have to go up. Hopefully, the decisions by Walmart and Target will be the first step that leads to higher pay across industries.
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.