Honest pay for an honest day’s work

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

In a rare victory for working Americans. Walmart employees across the country saw their pay increase this week.

After years of employee protests and public outcry, the nation’s largest company relented in February and said it would increase its base hourly pay to $9, and to $10 in 2016.

The changes should affect around 500,000 of the company’s 1.2 million workers in the country. In North Carolina, 23,000 Walmart employees got a raise.

But is it really a victory? Is it enough?

No.

Most of the push by protesters has been for a base wage of $15 and more consistent hours. For sure, $9 an hour isn’t much, about $19,000 a year before taxes for someone working full time.

But they’re not all working full time.

The federal poverty level for a family of three is $20,000. So a single mother or father raising two kids and working her or his butt off everyday at a Walmart for $9 lives in poverty.

The American Dream, or a real-life nightmare?

Walmart made more than $16 billion in profits in 2014 and 2015, and it returned billions to its shareholders. The wage increase is expected to cost the company more than $1 billion this year.

The family that owns Walmart, the Waltons, is worth $150 billion. That’s as much as the bottom 40 percent of Americans.

In the United States, there are few kings and millions and millions of peasants.

The gap between the ultra rich and everyone else continues to get bigger.

But it is good to see that there is a movement for change in the American working class, which has been decimated in recent decades by stagnant wages, NAFTA and a ruling class that’s void of morality.

In Rowan County, all the talk is about how to attract good paying jobs. It’s no easy task, as the number of good paying jobs continues to drop and states, counties and even communities are forced to compete for even the lowest hanging fruit.

This is why it’s so important that communities work to become self reliant.

Or fight back like Seattle, Washington, did by passing its own minimum wage law — $15 an hour.  Which, of course, brought  lawsuits from the corporate sector.

As Rowan County tries to bring in businesses, residents here should demand that leadership recruit the right kind of companies — ones that don’t put profits over people and the environment. And the county’s leadership should be as open as possible regarding the companies they are in discussions with as most of the talk regarding business recruitment is done behind closed doors.

People want to work, but people also want to have dignity and honor in what they do for a living. Everyday, people struggle to get by. They need support both at work and from the community.

People should be able to trust and depend on community leaders and businesses.

Unlike popular belief, most people aren’t looking for a free handout. They just want a job that allows them to be happy.

The struggle for better wages will go on in this country and others. It has too, or we all will lose.

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