Victoria's Secret workers win wage battle

Employees at New York's Herald Square flagship store get raises of $1 to $2 an hour, but they still face erratic schedules.

By Jason Notte Sep 12, 2013 2:52PM
Pedestrians walk past a Victoria's Secret store in New York (© Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Tiny paychecks and barely-there hours for part-time workers were among Victoria's less popular secrets. Once some employees took those secrets public, however, the giant lingerie chain was somewhat less discreet about doling out hush money.

Workers at Victoria's Secret flagship store in New York City's Herald Square just added $1 to $2 an hour to their paychecks, CNNMoney reports, after they asked parent company Limited Brands (LTD) for higher pay and launched a petition on

The workers demanded more money, steadier schedules and more opportunity to advance within the company.

It's an incomplete victory. The official company line is that the raises were the result of its annual employee satisfaction survey. Scheduling is still an issue, as labor site In These Times says the Herald Square workers still face shifts that change wildly from week to week.

But even the Victoria's Secret workers' pay raises offer hope to workers petitioning companies such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald's (MCD) to pay more and striking against fast-food outlets in favor of a $15-an-hour minimum wage. It's already a win for the Retail Action Project, which is affiliated with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and teamed up with the Victoria's Secret workers on its Just Hours wage and scheduling campaign.

Though wages are inching up only in tiny niches of the retail and restaurant industries, those advances bode well for a growing number of U.S. workers. The U.S. economy has recovered roughly 6 million of the nearly 9 million jobs lost during the recession. However, The National Employment Law Project says nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the downturn paid middle-income wages or better, but roughly 65% of the regained jobs are low wage.

In the current economy, even a college degree is no guarantee of avoiding low-wage work. More than 280,000 college graduates earn minimum wage. The Center For College Affordability and Productivity reported that nearly half of the college graduates from the class of 2010 are working in jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree. A full 38% have taken gigs that don't even require a high school education. According to The Associated Press, that has dropped the median wage for college graduates significantly since 2000 -- just as those same graduates are getting crushed by record-high tuition and debt.

More on moneyNOW

Sep 12, 2013 4:58PM

By fight do you mean standing in line in front of their job screaming "gimme, gimme, gimme"?


I worked in fast food for 9 years, started when I was 17. By 18 I was a shift leader, by 19 I was a assistant store manager, and by 21 was running a restaurant. I had great wages, benefits, matching 401k and stock options. Took that career and now work a steady 9-5 and am compensated for my training and ability to PROVIDE VALUE to my company.


Now all these people want to just insist they deserve more? Give me a break! As someone who did the job and FOUGHT for more I can tell you a huge majority of these people are not worth it. There is room for advancement and you have to FIGHT for it.

Sep 12, 2013 4:41PM
If your job is not worth $15/hr to the employer, you won't be employed.
Sep 12, 2013 6:54PM
If you want to become rich, you need to become a politician: great pay, benefits, perks, vacation, health care, and all on the taxpayers dime........
Sep 12, 2013 4:50PM
Greed is still king....among corporations!
Sep 12, 2013 5:35PM
Yo.  Even with the raise the employees still can't afford to buy their own products.
Sep 12, 2013 4:38PM

It seems the public is finally rooting for the underdogs of's workers.

That's what happens when you keep destroying the middle class.  The newly enlarged lower class will vote against the desires of the wealthy and will support reforms to challenge the entrenched wealthy's agenda.

If the wealthy shuts off the ability of the lower classes to rise and achieve the "American Dream," they will work against the wealthy's goals.  Americans aren't willing to live like their third world brethren without a fight.

Sep 12, 2013 7:18PM
I used to work at Victoria's Secret. I think I worked for all of 2 weeks. I was 18 and off for summer break, so I requested a lot of hours. They gave me two 4 hours shifts, and then I was on call for about 3 more shifts (4 hours), so after clearing my schedule for work and not going out with friends to the beach, 15 min before my shift I'd get a call saying I didn't need to come in. Frustrating is an understatement. The pay was minimum wage, the only way to get 8 hour shifts was to be in management, and they push those dumb credit cards on everyone. I was helping a man find something for his wife, and because they kept making me push the card, he ended up leaving and not buying anything ! It's like this for a lot of retail, but VS was absolutely horrible.
Sep 12, 2013 7:19PM
Don't like the schedule or Pay? Don't work there!
Sep 12, 2013 5:36PM

I always get a "raise" from Victoria's Secret.. when I see a lady Im with intimately wearing their products.

Sep 12, 2013 5:56PM
Companies using and others like it to determine what they should pay employes is stupid... here in NYC the professional salaries have dropped because of that practice... yet the cost of living here is very, very high... the amounts online are not accurate at all in big cities and are more suitable for small towns in rural America.
Sep 12, 2013 10:25PM

Recent college graduates have to compete with high school graduates because they didn't learn a damn thing in college.The marketplace figured this out a long time ago so they are right where they belong. What re you going to do with "black studies" or :" Hispanic studies" degree?" Nothing,that's what. I see major"black studies" on an application,I immediately think,this person is trying to finish high school not expand his knowledge base! I wouldn't hire him!

Sep 12, 2013 8:04PM

In reality, large Corporations that under pay their employees are only hurting themselves in the long run.  Products sit on store shelves only to be put in clearance sales or are shipped to closeout stores like Big Lots.  Consumer income is an element within supply and demand.  

Sep 12, 2013 5:33PM
I hope those that get their $1 to $2 per hour raise won't mind when a bunch of their fellow workers get laid off and they have to pick up the slack.
Sep 12, 2013 9:50PM
What most people that are screaming for higher minimum wages don't realize is that as minimum wages go up so does the cost of living. So if they make more money the cost of living is going to match any increase, negating the increase to begin with. Most people start out at minimum and work their way up the ladder. Simply getting higher wages handed to you without doing anything extra is not going to help you at all.
Sep 12, 2013 10:05PM

A fast food worker and retail clerk does not deserve to make as much as a college graduate, sorry. If you want to make $20 and hour, you should have to suffer through four years of college. I was in college working on my 4 year degree AND working retail part-time. The problem is that everyone feels so entitled anymore. People think "I'm me, so I'm special and deserve more." Bunch of crap.

Sep 12, 2013 5:57PM
I would give them a raise, because big company's never give their employees a raise in years, and they expect people to work for them at that same wage year after year?  Many people who don't have a skill or trade still have skills in what they do, it is worth something, like a raise every 6 months or once a year.  They are just sick and tired of the merry go round and round.  Who else is going to do the dirty work?  C'mon lets get things up to snuff, okay?
Sep 12, 2013 9:34PM
"still face shifts that change wildly from week to week." Shows incompetent management.
Sep 12, 2013 5:46PM
Their commercials always give me a raise...
Sep 12, 2013 10:22PM

Business owners will only see more business and more income by increasing the pay of all employees across the board. Consumers need disposable income to spend. They cant be a consumer without it.


Wages have not kept pace with inflation, and that is negatively affecting the economy as a whole.

Sep 12, 2013 11:56PM
LOL, I loved the title for this article on MSN....."Vicotria's Secret give raises".  I'm sure a lot of guys get a raise from VS.  I know I do.
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