Retailers offering $ 15 / hour may soon have to offer more

  • Workers and activists have long called for a federal minimum wage of $ 15.
  • The persistent labor shortage has prompted many companies to raise wages.
  • But advocates say a $ 15 minimum wage isn’t the end of everything for work.

Walmart-owned Sam’s Club told workers this week it wants them to “feel valued” and “be treated with fairness, kindness and empathy.” This message was accompanied by an increase in the chain-wide minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. About 95% of warehouse chain workers were already making at least that, but the goal is to set the company’s “average hourly rate” to over $ 17.

“We want you to get paid competitively, whether you’ve found your destination job as a forklift driver, meat cutter or cake decorator, or you’re just starting out and want to move up the ranks,” wrote CEO Kath McLay. in a note to workers.

And Sam’s Club isn’t the only company touting a new minimum hourly wage, even as congressional efforts to raise the federal minimum wage appear to have stalled. Walgreens and CVS have also set the minimum hourly wage at $ 15. Amazon previously set its minimum wage at $ 15 an hour in 2018. The e-commerce giant also raised wages by half a million workers and announced on Tuesday that 125,000 new workers would be hired with a salary of average departure of 18 dollars per hour.

Yet in much of the United States, many employees still fall short of an hourly wage of $ 15. A March 2021 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-wing and pro-union think tank, found that a minimum wage of $ 15 would increase the incomes of 32 million workers, or 21% of the workforce. total work of the United States.

The EPI also found that “the increase in the cost of living” has “reduced the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage” by 18% since 2009, causing “a devastating drop in the incomes of the lowest paid workers” .

Campaigners are currently focusing on some business giants that have yet to establish an hourly base of $ 15.

“We won’t stop fighting until McDonald’s and other fast food companies pay at least $ 15 an hour, which is the bare minimum workers need to survive,” Patricia said. Mosley, a McDonald’s employee in Michigan associated with the labor movement. $ 15 said in a statement to Insider.

McDonald’s USA recently announced an average 10% wage increase at its company-owned restaurants, as many franchisees consider wage increases, offer tuition assistance and pilot child care programs “said a spokesperson for McDonald’s USA in a statement to Insider.

Retail workers in particular have gained more weight thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Some have quit their jobs in rage, in response to frustrating working conditions and abusive customers. Some workers have started “ghost shopping,” where they show up for work long enough to get paid, only to then disappear. Retailers are starting to understand how the current labor shortage can affect the holiday season, which often means offering higher wages and signing bonuses to attract candidates and boost retention through competitive advantages. . Companies like Amazon and Walmart have doubled down on benefits for workers, like education benefits.

While this may not go very far in practice, a base salary of $ 15 remains a key goal for some activists and workers. Bianca Agustin, director of corporate responsibility for the Labor activist group United for Respect, said in a statement to Insider that increasing base pay to $ 15 an hour “would be the right thing to do and a smart business practice, so associates can help keep Walmart stores safe and profitable. short and long term. ”

Walmart’s current average salary in U.S. stores is $ 16.40. Peter Naughton, a Walmart employee and UFR member, said he hopes his employer will raise his base salary because it could change the lives of employees and spur salary increases at rival retailers.

“Maybe I could have my own apartment,” Naughton said. “I would have more money to spend. In fact, it would help companies like Walmart because people would have more money to spend.”

About Timothy Cheatham

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