For a moment last week, it looked like Walmart CEOs were getting enlightened. The company promised to “end minimum-wage pay” for its lowest-paid sales workers and touted a plan to ‘”invest in its associate base” and maybe even offer more bonus opportunities. But though these moves might help the several thousand associates earning the absolute legal minimum of $7.25 an hour, the real problem is that hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers earn just above that level and still struggle to survive (the average sales associate’s hourly wage isjust under $9). In addition to poverty wages, workers have suffered cuts to benefits and exhausting, erratic schedules.
[...] And the demand for $15 an hour aligns Walmart workers’ demands with that of many other low-wage workers’ campaigns, including the fast-food worker movement
, homecare workers
and community advocates seeking to set $15 as the target minimum wage
in various cities. Fifteen isn’t a magic number, of course—it still would leave even many full-time workers struggling to cover basic needs, but it would help stabilize thousands of households and have may have a ripple effect across the retail sector. According to an analysis by Demos
, providing a base wage of “$25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round retail worker at retail companies employing at least 1,000 workers” would amount to a pay raise of more than 25 percent for the women who typically earn less than that threshold. Although pro-business groups demonize the idea of a minimum wage hike
a “job killer” that mostly affects teens, the Demos analysis projects an overall benefit for “3.2 million female retail workers and their families in addition to 2.5 million male retail workers and their families.”