Some small good news for American low-wage workers: Walmart is increasing its wages at the low end. By April, no Walmart employee will make less than $9 an hour; a year from now it’ll be $10. The retailer is also moving to improve its scheduling practices, a source of worker complaints.
Walmart’s decision is a voluntary one, made for business reasons.
One of the characters in Marshall Jevons's mystery novel Murder at the Margin is a Harvard Divinity School professor named Matthew Dyke, who at one point complains about the exploitation of low-wage workers. Dyke declares that the employers' "profit-maximizing behavior" at the expense of the workers is unethical—as is all profit-maximizing behavior.
The working poor as society's greatest philanthropists
Aug 08, 2006
They serve us at restaurants; they trim our lawns; they clean our houses and hotel rooms; they take our money at convenience stores. They are the minimum-wage earners, who, if their state’s minimum isn’t higher, are paid just $5.15 an hour. At 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, that amounts to $10,700 annually—nearly $6,000 less than the federal poverty line for a family of three.
A coalition in Arkansas of community groups and religious bodies led by United Methodist pastor Stephen Copley celebrated their victory for working families April 10 when that state’s governor, Mike Huckabee, signed into law a $1.10-an-hour increase in the state minimum wage. The Arkansas coalition is an affiliate of the “Let Justice Roll” living-wage campaign.