Petition urges Wal-Mart, McDonald's to pay more
Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor, started the movement and is asking the companies to double their wages, citing strong profits and CEO pay.
Reich, who led the labor department under President Bill Clinton, has started a petition on MoveOn.org that's addressed to McDonald's CEO Don Thompson and Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke. As of Friday morning, more than 8,000 people have endorsed the petition, which has a goal of reaching 10,000 signatures.
His effort comes as fast-food workers are striking in almost 60 cities, seeking to super-size their wages. Both the strike and Reich's campaign are timed to Labor Day, a holiday that was created after the Pullman Strike of 1894, when employees of the Pullman company walked off their jobs following wage reductions.
While McDonald's and Wal-Mart aren't cutting pay, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 places a family of four below the poverty threshold. That pushes many families into applying for government services such as food stamps as a way to make ends meet.
"Your typical employee is now earning $8.25 to $8.80 an hour," Reich wrote, addressing the two chief executives. "Most are adults, responsible for bringing in half their family's income. You can easily afford to pay them $15 an hour without causing layoffs or requiring price hikes. Your shareholders and executives are doing spectacularly well."
Wal-Mart, the country's biggest private employer, has boosted shareholder dividends 18% this year, while CEO Duke is earning $20.7 million, Reich points out in his petition.
Meanwhile, McDonald's continues to report improving sales, and its annual return to investors was 15.7% from 2010 to 2012, Reich adds. While Wal-Mart didn't immediately return a request for comment, a McDonald's spokeswoman said the company isn't aware of the petition and so couldn't comment on it. She pointed to the company's statement on the strikes, which notes that the fast-food chain "aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees."
Some critics of a minimum-wage increase argue that employers will be forced to boost prices, potentially crimping sales and leading to job cuts. Yet the country has bumped the baseline wage before. Witness President Harry Truman's 1949 decision to nearly double pay for the lowest paid workers.
As my colleague Jason Notte writes, the economy suffered none of the negative effects naysayers had predicted. Unemployment didn't rise, while nearly 1.3 million workers saw an improvement in their earnings.
Given that Wal-Mart earlier this month warned about worse-than-expected sales, maybe its chief executive should support a higher baseline hike. After all, if its 2.2 million employees got a wage, maybe they could afford to shop there.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
I worked fast food for a short time when I was 19, quickly realized what a dead end it was and quit my co-manager position.
Freedom of choice people, if you don't like where you work, leave. Don't expect to get paid double what your skills are really worth.
A person should be free to charge whatever they want for an hour of their own time or labor.
And interestingly enough, wages would start rising in a hurry if we could actually get some real job creation. Create 10 million jobs over the next couple of years and there would be enough competition for competent employees that everyone would make more money.
RR is a pinko liberal and probably calls Oshameful some sort of markist hero!
Seriously...anything that comes from RR's socialistic spewings is ridiculous!
Ever heard of HARD WORK! EARNING YOUR PAY! Working 2 or 3 jobs if you want more money...or heck...better yourself and get a degree - THAT YOU PAY FOR!!!
sick of supporting the libs....this pendulum needs to swing back to a better RR era - Ronald Reagan's!!!!
Of course, when they take their new founds gains, along with their four kids, to McDonald's for a meal the Kid's Meals will cost $8.95, Big Macs will be $11.29 and a regular Coke will be $5.35. Oh, and there will only be once cashier on duty, no drive through and one cook to prepare everything.
$15.00 per hours. Yeah......that's the ticket. (Shut up you morons and be thankful for what you have......you earned it - one way or another.)
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