October 4, 2013
By Stephanie West
The magazine's 2013 "Hot List," out on newsstands this week, features fast-food workers' nationwide campaign to raise wages. "Something extraordinary happened before Labor Day weekend: Workers at more than 1,000 fast-food restaurants in 60 cities went on strike," the Hot List profile on the fast-food campaign proclaimed.
"The lowliest of low-wage workers, working for massive multinational corporations, were… making the boldest of demands." Rolling Stone wrote that "once upon a time, flipping burgers might have been dismissed as a job for not-especially ambitious teenagers. But in today's economy, that's all changed."
Workers aren't the only ones who benefit from higher wages. Companies can win too, according to MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Zeynep Ton. In a TEDx Talk delivered earlier this month, Ton draws on a decade of research to challenge whether there really is a tradeoff between offering low prices and paying low wages. She highlights how a "Good Jobs Strategy" has helped companies like Costco and the Spanish supermarket giant Mercadona increase profits by investing in workers.
Paying workers more also helps lift local economies. Calling it a "matter of justice," California Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed a bill making his state the first in the nation to adopt a $10 an hour minimum wage. The signing came just weeks after hundreds of fast-food workers walked off the job in Los Angeles, the East Bay and San Diego, joining thousands of fast-food strikers from coast to coast. The National Employment Law Project estimates that the increase will generate $3.3 billion in new economic activity in California, as low-wage workers spend their increased earnings at local businesses.