Yesterday (Thursday, actually - not sure about my time stamp) fast food workers across the country held strikes, sit-ins and the like across the country to protest for a living wage - hopefully a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. The Guardian has a pretty good account. I read through some of the comments as I often do and I'm sad to say there are some commenters who seem to have no compassion for their fellows. I guess they don't feel "burger-flippers" deserve a living wage. It's work and I (and some other commenters, thankfully) feel that if you work full time, you deserve a living wage. The uncompassionate seemed to be sooo worried about corporate profits, I guess, soooo worried about downsizing (which is why so many are trapped in fast food jobs to begin with). Well, Seattle recently raised the minimum wage there to $15.00 per hour and it seems to be working pretty well for them. The uncompassionate magically want these people to "get better jobs." Hmmm - do they know that, according to Barbara Ehrenriech who writes extensively about these issues, changing jobs may cost a worker two weeks' wages, which they usually can't afford?
This also comes as Burger King is preparing to join with a Canadian Firm and move the - well, over all headquarters to Canada. I'm not an economist, but a lot of the anger about this deals with BK is them not having to pay as much in U. S. taxes. Some are even calling for or saying they will boycott. We'll see how that goes... Of course, BK wouldn't be the only tax dodger. What about the cruise lines, Apple, GE, just to name a few. And I hadn't known this until quite recently, but the NFL, which makes billions of dollars in profits annually, doesn't pay Federal Income Taxes! Is is somehow ok for these huge corporations to pay little or none of their "fair share" in our society, but exploit the workers who actually make their businesses work on a day-to-day basis?
What people need is - a chance. A chance to work, to earn a living wage and to provide for their families, to work for better lives. And it seems to be getting harder to do so. Have the people casting aspersions on these workers bothered to check recent grocery receipts? I found that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that from June 2009 through May 2014 prices have increased in these areas (as % change):
Fresh Fruits - up 13.8%
Poultry - up 14.9%
Seafood - up 20.1%
Pork - up 27.0%
Eggs - up 33.1%
Beef/Veal - up 35.2%
Have hourly wages kept pace? I think not.
Then there was also this in The Guardian about food insecurity. It is a shame that we are allowing this to happen. We need to care, and to make everyone care.
So instead of being cold toward our fellow citizens, let's be in solidarity with their struggle.
UPDATE: So Wal-Mart is now going to require employees to adhere to a dress code ---- which will more than likely cost them money they probably can't spare? If you ask me, it's a terrible way for a huge corporation to treat workers. The Guardian report is here.