Two Sides of How Businesses are Dealing With Minimum Wage Increases

The Wall Street Journal has a pretty even-handed examination of how increases in the minimum wage has affected businesses in various cities across the U.S., focusing on San Jose, Calif. where locals voted to increase the minimum wage to $10.15 hour in 2012.

Cheering for a Small Wage and Looking to Change the System

Some weekend reading: Earlier this year, we had a short post about how the cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders were suing for wage theft. ESPN Magazine has a really good feature story about Lacy T., the cheerleader who "filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court alleging that the Raiders fail to pay their cheerleaders minimum wage for all hours worked, withhold pay until the end of the season, require cheerleaders to cover their own business expenses, don't provide lunch breaks and impose fines for minor infractions -- all of which, according to the suit, constitute violations of the California Labor Code."

Restaurant Week With Fair Labor Practices

Here's a spin on "restaurant week," which happens in various cities across the country and allows diners to try prix fixe lunches and dinners at participating restaurants for what is usually a fraction of the price: High Road Restaurant Week.

The Laborers in the Blue Collar Temp Industry

ProPublica’s Michael Grabell has been looking at the blue collar temp industry over the course of a year, and recently teamed up with Vice, which put together a video showing how online shopping and our need to have items delivered quickly to our doorsteps have helped given rise to an industry that employs 2.8 million workers—the highest proportion of the American workforce.

Many temps work for months or years packing and assembling products for some of the world’s largest companies, including Walmart, Amazon and Nestlé. They make our frozen pizzas, cut our vegetables and sort the recycling from our trash. They unload clothing and toys made overseas and pack them to fill our store shelves.

The temp system insulates companies from workers’ compensation claims, unemployment taxes, union drives and the duty to ensure that their workers are citizens or legal immigrants. In turn, temp workers suffer high injury rates, wait unpaid for work to begin and face fees that depress their pay below minimum wage.

Temp agencies consistently rank among the worst large industries for the rate of wage and hour violations, according to a ProPublica analysis of federal enforcement data.

It is one of our fastest-growing industries, yet one of the few in which the injury rates have been rising.

In his latest piece, Grabell looks at how blue collar temp laborers compare to migrant farmworkers in the 1960s, whose poor working conditions were exposed in a 1960 CBS documentary by Edward R. Murrow called “Harvest of Shame.”

Happy Equal Pay Day!

Today is not a day to celebrate equal pay between the genders, as that does not exist. By "equal pay day" we (we?) mean, Happy This is How Many Extra Days Women Would Have To Work To Make As Much As Men Did In 2013 Day. Ladies, we are done working for 2013 now, hypothetically! And boy am I tired. As you may have heard, women earn on average 77 cents out of every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Here are some more SAD FACTS, courtesy of the National Women's Law Center, who is covering the pay gap all week.

Walmart Employees Working Hard, Going on Food Stamps

Walmart brings in more food stamp revenue than any other company, and much of it comes from their employees.

How We Talk About Low-Wage Workers

Sarah Jaffe has an opinion piece in The Washington Post about the way the labor strikes has been covered in the media—often not at all, or placing emphasis on poor, low-wage workers as "some exotic Other rather than our neighbors, our family members and ourselves."

The State With the Highest Minimum Wage Is Outpacing U.S. Job Growth

From Bloomberg, a look at the minimum wage debate via the state of Washington, which has the highest state minimum wage in the country.

If Walmart Paid Workers a Living Wage

Marketplace and Slate have been working on a joint project about food stamps. They previously reported that big box stores like Walmart pay many of their workers so little that they qualify for foodstamps—which they then use at the stores they work in. Andrew Bouvé produced this video looking at how paying workers at Walmart a living wage could potentially affect prices at Walmart.

A Wal-Mart Manager Talks About His Experience

Earlier this month, the Times reported that President Obama was seeking to expand overtime pay to millions of workers including "fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians and others whom many businesses currently classify as 'executive or professional' employees to avoid paying them overtime."

Robert Reich on the “Paid-What-You’re-Worth” Myth

Robert Reich, an economist and former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, has a post about why "paid-what-you’re-worth" is a dangerous myth. Do low-wage workers who earn minimum wage get paid what they're worth? Are CEOs of big companies worth their big compensation packages?

Gap Stores Raising Its Hourly Wage to $10 Next Year

In a surprising move, Gap Inc. informed its employees on Wednesday that it would set $9 as the minimum hourly rate for its United States work force this year and then establish a minimum of $10 next year.

Gap said this move would ultimately raise pay for 65,000 of its 90,000 American employees, including those at Banana Republic, Old Navy and other stores.

Gap is making this move as many states consider raising their minimum wage, and as Republicans and Democrats debate a bill that includes a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

This is particularly interesting to me because I worked at Gap’s baby store in high school at the minimum wage of $6.25 an hour, which adjusted for inflation would be between $8 and $8.50 today. It’s notable that Gap is also based in San Francisco, which has a city-wide minimum wage of $10.74. California is set to raise its state minimum wage to $10 by Jan. 1 2016, and as the Times points out, by raising it’s hourly wage higher now, “Gap will help avoid a checkerboard of different wages in different states in which workers with several years’ experience might be earning $8.50 or $9 an hour and wondering why they earn less than new hires in California who will be earning a minimum of $10 an hour.” Gap CEO Glenn Murphy said this move would also go to support the company’s founders promise “to ‘do more than sell clothes.’”

Photo: Wonderlane