Labor Day is a holiday. After all, executives need a break too. Most independent businesses are closed today. But on the other hand, most businesses paying minimum wage (or just a little more), are open for business scheduling workers to work or be fired, This includes restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and of course Wal*mart.
While their owners are cavorting in the Caymen Islands, those needing the day off most, won’t get it.
fact is, most can’t afford to take it off; they desperately need to make money because they make under $8 dollars an hour.
So to make Labor Day a real day about “Labor”, we need to change the rules. What if, for example, we said, and passed a law, that on Labor Day, all those making minimum wage, got paid in extra, a full days wage, officially titled a “worker appreciation wage” wholly courtesy of their appreciative employer. We’d just make it mandatory.
This would become a benefit for all those working minimum wage. If you were off, you got paid. If you worked that day, you would get double payed, with one check coming off the employers labor line, and the other coming off their benefit’s line.
This could be easily mandated on a state level if the General Assembly could simply muster enough votes being cast.
Let us look at the benefits to businesses.
The cost would be mandated and therefore spread over an entire year, instead of just the week it fell. Therefore each day would be assessed 1/365th of the cost one’s minimum wage employees would receive. The cost is never felt.
For young students, or those working who desperately need to maximize their paychecks, getting double paid on one day, would be a great incentive to work. Locally it may help the beach temporary labor situation that is always so critical on Labor Day itself.
Recently we saw strikes among minimum wage earners and demands for $15 an hour.
Comparisons were made to Australia, without mentioning that Australians employ a lot less people in those jobs than we do here in the US, and uses robotics or machines to compensate for fewer workers. That is probably not the solution we are bargaining for.
$15 dollars an hour would double the $7.25 wage we currently have. Taking Burger King, the doubling of their labor (assuming they kept their full staffs) is more than their operating profit last year. Whereas (as quoted by the strikers) they made millions company-wide, they did it by having quite a number of units all making a little bit. Their operating profit averages out to making only $28,000 a year per unit. The reality is that the average each unit makes, is a profit of $78 a day.
Though a living $15 min wage is a nice sentiment, it is very unrealistic.
However, that an incremental wage increase IS very realistic. $9.00 an hour should be the immediate goal… Instead of a 100% doubling the employers labor costs, one is increasing only by a percentage in the teens…
As many have pointed out, minimum wage is now what many heads of households are dependent upon. The solution to this problem should be instead to raise the wage scale elsewhere and generate jobs paying livable wages, instead of of forcing a minimum wage to be a livable income for all at $15 an hour.
The economy today is very similar to the economy in the 1920′s… Therefore the solutions one would guess woudl work best, should also be the ones we put into effect in the 1930′s.
Here is what the National Recovery Act entailed. The government was arbiter. It asked Labor what they needed to live comfortably.. Back then it was $30 a day. Today, the same would be $120 a day. The government then asked businesses what price they would set to make a fair profit (5%) off their transaction if they paid labor $30 a day. They told them. The government then through voluntary-mandating set the price for labor and for the sellers, and promoted the concept, urging citizens not to weaken the program by undercutting those supportive businesses displaying the blue eagle emblem of the NRA (National Recovery Act).. Labor liked it because it had a set floor under wages. Businesses couldn’t undercut it and drive it lower. Businesses like it because a bigger competitor couldn’t undercut their business with a price-cut they had to match causing them to lose money and fold.
The economy rebounded returning to its health, and the NRA quietly slipped out of the picture and market forces again took over, but all transactions were above the floor levels set. Everybody was happy.
Far cry from today, when everyone is angry because they don’t have enough money, no matter how hard they work.
Although history often credits the labor movement for striking to keep the floor rising under wages, it rarely reports on the businesses who willingly agreed to price structuring which kept them solvent through the hard times. Because of this agreement, everyone working made money. One of the reasons we didn’t have the massive riots across our cities as do many other nations today… For those unable to find work, the government stepped in with $1 dollar a day and food and board, and put people to work in CCC camps in our National Forests, or planting windbreaks across the Mid West.
Many blame Globalization for today’s ills. In a very close comparison, today’s Globalization is much like the free-for-all capitalism that flourished in the 20′s. Pig prices were high so you raised more this year; unfortunately so did everyone else, and the price dropped lower than it had been in a hundred years. The benefit to the consumers of having very cheap pork, is short-lived as farms got mortgaged off due to being unable to meet their obligations.
It’s time for a re-evaluation of what is important to us. Is it:
a) maximizing profit
b) living happy
c) being a dutiful servant to our masters
The answer is pretty obvious. Therefore our goal, yours and mine, is that we need to elect and only support those people who stress they are pursuing the same interests as ours.
And sure it ain’t anyone supported by ALEC…..