Raises From Coast To Coast In 2022

In 2022, a record number of states and localities will increase their minimum wages—10 years after fast-food workers first went on strike to demand $15 and a union. These record increases are the result of underpaid workers organizing, demanding, and winning higher wages. This movement has not only led to the adoption of higher state and local minimum wages but has helped seed new worker activism and mobilization across our economy.

On January 1, 2022 (December 31, 2021 for workers in New York), the minimum wage will increase in 21 states and 35 cities and counties. In 33 of those jurisdictions, the wage floor will reach or exceed $15 per hour for some or all employers.

Later in 2022, four additional states and 22 local jurisdictions will also lift their wage floors—17 of them to $15 or more.

Continue reading

What’s Really Causing Inflation And How We Should Deal With It

While times have been getting harder for workers, it is clear that capitalists (or “big business”) have been doing very well. It would seem as though everyone is against inflation. But the real problem is not that prices have been increasing but that wages have not kept up with this. It is important to look not only at why inflation has increased but at the very different question of why wages have not kept up with it.

Continue reading

Wage Inequality Continued To Increase In 2020

Newly available wage data from the Social Security Administration allow us to analyze wage trends for the top 1.0% and other very high earners as well as for the bottom 90% during 2020. The upward distribution of wages from the bottom 90% to the top 1.0% that was evident over the period from 1979 to 2019 was especially strong in the 2020 pandemic year, yielding historically high wage levels and shares of all wages for the top 1.0% and 0.1%. Correspondingly, the share of wages earned by the bottom 95% fell in 2020.

Two features of the pandemic economy distorted wage patterns in 2020 and led to faster wage growth, especially at the top. One feature was that inflation grew at a subdued 1.2% rate, boosting the average real wage (but not affecting distribution).

Continue reading

Union, Kellogg’s Reach Tentative Deal To End Strike

Battle Creek, MI — Kellogg workers’ nearly two-month strike in Cereal City may be over soon.

In a Wednesday update to members, the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said it had reached a tentative agreement with The Kellogg Company after additional negotiations in Chicago.

The five-year deal would deliver 3% raises while maintaining current worker health benefits. Cost of living adjustments would be tacked on starting in the second year of the contract, according to an overview provided by The Kellogg Company.

The tentative agreement also addresses another sticking point during negotiations: Kellogg’s two-tiered system of wages, which gives newer workers less pay and fewer benefits.

Continue reading

High-Paid Media Types Are Unhappy Workers Are Getting Higher Pay

Many in the media are very upset that workers at the bottom end of the pay scale feel secure enough to demand higher pay and better working conditions. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching a television anchor, who earns $6 million a year, complain that 3 percent of the workforce quit their job in August. They seemed to find the idea of workers quitting unsatisfactory jobs appalling.

For those of us who think that all workers should be able to get decent pay, have decent working conditions, and be treated with respect on the job, the idea that large numbers of workers now feel they can quit jobs they don’t like is really great news. And, the increased labor market power for those at the bottom of the ladder is showing up in higher pay.

Continue reading

CVS Workers Say Enough Is Enough

Thousands of workers at CVS stores across California are demanding better pay, increased safety standards, healthcare improvements and more security for workers in new union contract negotiations.

The demands followed the drug chain’s report of record profits over the past 18 months, in part due to keeping stores open throughout the pandemic and offering Covid-19 testing and vaccines in stores. CVS reported a profit of more than $7bn in 2020 and posted a $2.8bn profit in the second quarter of 2021. CVS is ranked the eighth largest retailer in the US based on 2020 sales and its parent company, CVS Health, is the fourth largest corporation in the US by revenue.

CVS has offered a wage increase of just 5 cents an hour for most workers in the contract negotiations.

Continue reading

Update On Strikes And Walkouts

Earlier this week in Savannah, Georgia, 54 of the 200 bus drivers in the Savannah-Chatham’s school district went on a wildcat “sick out” strike over pay and other issues. 

Workers said they were upset with their low pay and with the district who maintains that bus drivers must keep allowing students who don’t wear masks on buses — a rule that bus drivers contend with. 

The wildcat action wasn’t sanctioned officially by the bus drivers’ union, the Teamsters. So, the union then formally sanctioned its shop steward, Kendrick Banks for participating in the unsanctioned, possibly illegal, action and removed him from his position as the union’s shop steward. 

Several union members, including Banks, resigned from the union as a result of his removal, according to the Savannah Morning News. 

Continue reading

The Productivity–Pay Gap Has Been Growing Since 1979

The growth of inequalities is the central driver of the widening gap between the hourly compensation of a typical (median) worker and productivity—the income generated per hour of work—in recent decades. Specifically, this growing divergence has been driven by the growth of two distinct dimensions of inequality: the surge of compensation received by the top 10%—particularly the top 1.0% and top 0.1%—and the erosion of labor’s share of income and the corresponding growth of capital’s share. This post documents these trends by presenting an updated account of the U.S. productivity-pay divergence originally analyzed in both Mishel and Gee 2012 and Bivens and Mishel 2015.

The key metric, as explained below, is the lag between the growth of net productivity (taking into account depreciation and evaluated using consumer prices) and hourly compensation (wages and benefits) of a typical or median worker.

Continue reading

Family Dollar Employees: ‘We All Quit’

Lincoln, Neb. – A Family Dollar store in Lincoln is back open Monday, after having a sign on its door the previous day indicating everyone had quit.

The store located near 48th Street and Leighton Avenue was closed on Sunday with this message posted on the entrance: “We all Quit. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

This is now the second business to have a situation such as this one. A Burger King in Lincoln back in July saw all nine employees quit.

The last two Family Dollar employees decided to quit on Sunday and they were the ones to put up the orange sign. Former employees said the store manager quit 4 or 5 days ago.

Former employee, Breanna Faeller, said the pay is low and they are working extra-long shifts.

Continue reading

$15 Wage Becoming New Average In Some Industries

New data show that, as wages have risen across much of the economy, the average pay for restaurant and supermarket workers has risen above $15 an hour for the first time, reports The Washington Post. The milestone marks a win for both workers and, potentially, the Fight for $15 movement.

Employers struggling to fill low-wage positions as businesses reopened over the past year have blamed their problem on a so-called worker shortage. But in reality, economists say, it’s more likely that there was a wage shortage as workers were unwilling to do a job that is more dangerous during the pandemic for the same wage as before COVID-19 was raging through the country.

Now, it seems, employers are responding, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by The Washington Post.

Continue reading

Identifying The Policy Levers Generating Wage Suppression And Inequality

Inequalities abound in the U.S. economy, and a central driver in recent decades is the widening gap between the hourly compensation of a typical (median) worker and productivity—the income generated per hour of work. This growing divergence has been driven by two other widening gaps, that between the compensation received by the vast majority of workers and those at the top, and that between labor’s share of income and capital’s. This paper presents evidence that the divorce between the growth of median compensation and productivity, the inequality of compensation, and the erosion of labor’s share of income has been generated primarily through intentional policy decisions designed to suppress typical workers’ wage growth, the failure to improve and update existing policies, and the failure to thwart new corporate practices and structures aimed at wage suppression.

Continue reading

Burger King Workers Resign In Protest

Burger King workers in Lincoln, Nebraska quit en masse when their general manager Rachael Flores gave her notice after months of mistreatment from higher ups.

On the way out last week, Flores put up a message that went viral on social media, using the Burger King sign to announce: “We all quit. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Kylee Johnson, an employee and Flores’s best friend, told me the remaining staff saw the way higher-ups treated Flores and decided to give their notices when she gave hers.

“She was the glue that held us all together and after seeing the way she was being treated we couldn’t fathom being under that type of management,” Johnson said.

Continue reading

Chicago Amazon Workers Help Win Megacycle Pay Nationwide

In January, the company hit workers in Chicago’s DCH1 delivery station with a devastating one-two punch. First, Amazon was shutting down their workplace, so they would have to transfer to other facilities across the city. Second, workers at delivery stations nationwide were going to be forced onto a new shift called the “Megacycle,” where they would work four times a week from 1:20 to 11:50 a.m.

Delivery stations facilitate the “last mile” of delivery, sorting and handing off packages to delivery drivers. The Megacycle is designed to speed up the delivery process, allowing customers to order even later and still get their packages within one to two days.

DCH1 had been the base of the Chicago chapter of Amazonians United—the first chapter in the country. This network of worker committees at Amazon warehouses now reaches across the U.S., with ties with similar groups in other countries.

Continue reading

Restaurant Workers Say They Won’t Return to Work Without a Living Wage

On May 20, 2021, about 50 service worker leaders at One Fair Wage, an organization I lead that brings together service workers to demand a living wage, gathered to take an official vote on whether to go on a “wage strike.” Some workers had already left the restaurant industry and were considering not returning, and some had stayed, doing the work of two or even three workers in understaffed environments. All were united in their determination not to continue to work for anything less than a full, living wage — plus tips.

Continue reading

Desperate For Workers, US Restaurants And Stores Raise Pay

Washington – U.S. restaurants and stores are rapidly raising pay in an urgent effort to attract more applicants and keep up with a flood of customers as the pandemic eases.

McDonald’s, Sheetz and Chipotle are just some of the latest companies to follow Amazon, Walmart and Costco in boosting wages, in some cases to $15 an hour or higher.

The pay gains are, of course, a boon to these employees. Restaurants, bars, hotels and stores remain the lowest-paying industries, and many of their workers ran the risk of contracting COVID-19 on the job over the past year while white-collar employees were able to work from home.

Still, the pay increases could contribute to higher inflation if companies raise prices to cover the additional labor costs. Some businesses, however, could absorb the costs or invest over time in automation to offset higher wages.

Continue reading