What’s changed about multi-billion dollar corporations refusing to raise bear minimum wages and improve working conditions? For one, organized unions demanding higher wages are spreading across the nation in protest of fast-food corporations and workplaces like Wal-Mart. Why is it that the average daily salary for CEOs at fast-food joints and the like is about $25,000 while employees typically make less than that in a year? It’s fair to receive higher pay for having earned appropriate credentials and acquiring the necessary experience for the job, but the pay gap is indiscriminately too large to ignore.
This economic inequality is related to corporate capitalism, and specifically the dominance of capitalizing on inequitable work standards. This injustice is not a result of economic necessity. Rather, it’s a choice. It’s up to the management, shareholders, and owners of these corporations to shift away from their traditional processes. The truth is, if corporations raise wages and improve working conditions for their employees, it would actually enhance their bottom-line.
A report released by Demos analyzes the economic benefits of raising wages for workers in the retail sector. The findings show a noticeable increase in job creation, a significant boost in sales, and that millions of workers would be lifted from poverty. According to the detailed report, the corporations can definitely afford it:
“Top retail firms like Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens earn billions of dollars in annual profits, which they pay out in dividends to their shareholders and bonuses to executive staff, or direct toward the future performance of the company.”
The sad reality is that many of these leading corporations don’t actually want to pay their employees more because they don’t see a reason to, and they use their power to fire, have protesters arrested, and abuse any employees who justifiably demand more. For example, in New York, three women were arrested for protesting against Wal-Mart working conditions, as Huffington Post reports.
Wal-Mart has been making threats regarding vacation time and other benefits being compromised if workers inquire about union rights. Is this how companies should operate? Corporate profit margins are higher than ever. Now is the time for unions to make an impact and transform the way these companies do business.