January 12, 2015
By Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – The Labor Department has reported that the U.S. created more jobs in 2014 than any year since 1999, but paychecks continue to decline. With jobs increasing across the U.S., wages are now the nation’s chief economic concern.
Timothy Noah writes in Politico that “the picture for wages, both through 2014 and over the past decade and a half, remains dismal,” and as a result, “[s]tagnating wages have displaced unemployment as the nation’s chief economic concern,and wages have become a central political concern too.”
Fast-food and Walmart workers joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and other national leaders at the first-ever “Raising Wages” summit hosted by the AFL-CIO in Washington this past week. Heading into 2016, additional state-based summits on raising pay for low-wage workers will take place in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, with the goal of “holding politicians accountable who fail to make the topic a central focus.”
In her remarks at the summit, Shantel Walker, a Papa John’s worker from New York and Fight for $15 leader, described how workers at her store successfully won back stolen wages after going on strike: “I’m proud to say we took things to the next level. We had an action at my store. The whole community came out. I want to say we had 100 people. We spoke to the owner, to the managers, and we retrieved the money for the workers. That was a big step for us. That was a big step for me. That was the beginning.”
The Guardian reported last week on a proposal from University of Chicago Law professor Heather Whitney, who argues that McDonald’s could in fact boost its bottom line by “spending its money on higher wages for employees” and embracing a new role as a “newfound conscious capitalist.”