Today, the issue of an acceptable treatment of workers is a hot button topic for New Yorker. The idea that minimum wage workers deserving sick days, and a wage that allows them to work one job is an issue at hand. The current state of today’s economy has more and more adults relying on minimum wage labor to pay the bills and provide for their families. However employers are having the same song and dance arguments about paying a living wage (approximately $15-$18 an hour), giving every employee sick days, and a chance to organize into labor unions that they have throughout history. The argument was that any mandatory (insert labor law) would cause businesses to raise prices that would kill business and destroy the economy. Any rational minded individual knows this is in fact a bold faced lie. But to understand this endless battle between worker and employer we have understand where it comes from.
The industrial area brought about modernization and automation. It also brought about the end of apprenticeship and tradesmen. Industrialization let to the creation of the unskilled laborer who worked long hours, for little pay, and under unsafe working conditions. Unions were formed and the fight for workers’ rights and the battle began. The fight began in the US around the 1880s with the birth Knights of Labor, but it was the American Federation of Labor that emerged in 1886 as a union that would last. In the beginning the demands of unions were met with hostility by companies and government. Cops were called to break up strikes, and employers refused to yield to workers’ demands. The 1930s’ New Deal policies favored unions and protected their right to exist. However since 1950s the labor movement decline with the vast majority of the workforce being un-unionized.
As we see the US economy barely recovering, inflation constantly on the rise, everything becoming more expensive, wages staying stagnant, and good jobs becoming hard to come by; we see the demand for fairness and a rebirth in the demand for workers’ rights. As the planned walkout on August 29th is coming close I want to point out a few things for everyone to consider.
Myth: Minimum wage jobs are meant only for teenagers and college students for pocket money, and they are not mean to serve as a wage to live of on.
Fact: Minimum wage was originally meant to be a minimum amount a worker can sell their labor for. It was meant to be a living wage for the bare minimums. It was supposed to be an income that allowed one to support themselves on.
Myth: A living wage law would hurt business by making them increase costs, decrease profits, and would cause the market economy to collapse because business will close their doors.
Fact: These arguments have been before when laws about work place safety laws were proposed, the 40 hour work week, and child safety laws. When people earn enough to buy stuff, businesses prospers. While profit margins may decrease and price rise; these changes would be very minor. The perfect study to prove a good wage does is to compare the workers at Costco vs the Walmart employee. Walmart may pay less and save money by not investing their workers, but Walmart gets a lot less out of their workers. However, Costco invests in their workers and gets more out of them (see chart below. The point is there is nothing but good that would come out of a living wage. It’s not only good for the market economy but also the fair for the worker.
Myth: Anyone who works and has a job (regardless of wage) doesn’t need public assistance.
Fact: While there are very cases of fraud, people who go on public assistance NEED IT. A good paying job is what gets people of public assistance. Case and point!!!!
Myth: Unions destroy business and cause nothing but trouble
Fact: We can thank unions for the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, safe working conditions, and child labor laws. Unions are there to defend workers. Unions were formed because employers exploited employees. Unions are a check on employers and allow fairness in the work place.
Myth: Right to Work Laws bring jobs back to the US and improve the market economy. Right to Work Laws are good for the country
Fact: If this was true; states that have Right to Work Laws would not be in a state of poverty and have record number of people on public assistance. Add in disregard of safety laws and we’re back to the 1800s. The only beneficiaries of Right to Work laws are companies that make a profit off paying less than minimum wage (which is already pathetic). Point is right to work laws suck!!!
So there you have it. The myths debunked and proof that real bad guys are the greedy businesses that want maximize profits on the backs of underpaid workers. Let’s not fall for the shameless lies of Corporate America and support our fellow workers. We all deserve the same chance to make a reasonable living and human dignity. With that I’ll end this post by urging workers to unite and stand together!!!