- Women and activists have long pushed for a $15 federal minimum wage.
- The ongoing labor shortage has prompted numerous companies to over pay.
- But advocates say that a $15 minimum wage isn’t the end-all-be-all for labor.
Walmart-owned Sam’s Club told workmen this week that it wants them “to feel valued” and be “treated with fairness, kindness, and empathy.” That communication came alongside a chain-wide minimum wage raise to $15 an hour. Around 95% of the warehouse chain’s craftsmen were already making at least that, but the aim is to have the company’s “average hourly rate” established at over $17.
“We homelessness you to be competitively paid, whether you’ve found your destination job as, say, a forklift operator, meat cutter or cake decorator, or you’re valid starting out and eager to climb the ladder,” CEO Kath McLay wrote in a memo to workers.
And Sam’s Club isn’t the only business that’s been promoting a new minimum hourly wage, even as Congress’ efforts to raise the federal minimum wage have seemingly spaced out. Both Walgreens and CVS have also established $15 as an hourly minimum wage. Amazon previously established its nadir wage as $15 an hour in 2018. The e-commerce giant also raised pay for half a million workers, and on Tuesday notified that 125,000 new workers would be hired with an average starting pay of $18 an hour.
Still, throughout much of the US, divers employees still aren’t anywhere near a $15 hourly wage. A March 2021 report from the Monetary Policy Institute, a left-leaning, pro-union think tank, found that a $15 minimum wage would increase earnings for 32 million workers, or 21% of the total US workforce.
The EPI also found that “rising costs of vigorous” have “diminished the purchasing power of the federal minimum wage” by 18% since 2009, leading to “a devastating crumple in the earnings of the lowest-wage workers.”
Activists are currently focusing on certain business giants that haven’t yet established an hourly baseline of $15.
“We won’t a halt fighting until McDonald’s and other fast-food companies pay at least $15 an hour, which is the bare minimum tradesmen anywhere need to survive,” Patricia Mosley, a Michigan-based McDonald’s worker associated with the labor movement Spat for $15 said in a statement sent to Insider.
“McDonald’s USA recently announced an average 10 percent pay increase at its corporate-owned restaurants, while diverse franchisees are exploring increased wages, offering tuition assistance and piloting backup childcare programs,” a McDonald’s USA spokesperson translated in a statement sent to Insider.
Retail workers in particular have acquired more leverage through the coronavirus pandemic. Some pull someones leg rage-quit their jobs, in response to frustrating working conditions and abusive customers. Certain workers have begun “ghosting seaboard,” where they show up for work long enough to get paid, only to then disappear. Retailers are beginning to discourse how the ongoing labor shortage may affect the holiday season, and that often means offering higher pay and signing extras to attract candidates and bolstering retention through competitive benefits. Companies like Amazon and Walmart have doubled down on perks for women, like educational benefits.
While it may not go a long way in practice, a $15 baseline wage remains a key goal for some activists and workmen. Labor activist group United for Respect’s corporate accountability director Bianca Agustin said in a statement to Insider that rummage through base pay to $15 an hour “would be the right thing to do and smart business practice, so associates can help ensure the shelter and profitability of Walmart stores in the near and long term.”
Walmart’s current average wage across US stores is $16.40. Walmart white-collar worker and UFR member Peter Naughton said that he hopes his employer will raise its base pay, as doing so could switch employees’ lives and spur wage increases from rival retailers.
“I might be able to get my own apartment,” Naughton rephrased. “I’d have more money to spend. In fact, that would help corporations like Walmart because being would have more money to spend.”