If you are planning on doing any shopping in retail stores this week, chances are you might see some protests along with the usual long lines. You may view this as an inconvenience. You might even be angered or annoyed. But, let’s take a moment and talk about what is really going on.
First, this isn’t about denying your right to a damn good deal. The more retail spending, the better. Actually, it would be great if more Americans could spend more this holiday season and throughout the year. And, if they can save a buck or two in the process, even better.
However, many Americans aren’t financially secure enough to shop “until they drop.” This is especially true for the workers you will encounter when you walk through the doors of some of your favorite retailers. Yes, I’m referring to Walmart. But I’m also referring to Target, Best Buy and many others. The fact is that most of the people working at these stores, including supervisors and workers with seniority, are living in poverty.
The cashier who will check you out on Friday morning likely can’t afford to shop at the store you are about to leave. As you walk around Target Thursday night, note how clean the aisles are. The retail cleaning workers who made sure your shopping experience is as positive as possible won’t be able to enjoy any of the markdowns, they are barely able to put food on the table to feed their families.
You may have noted recently that a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio understands this reality. The store saw to it that their associates would get some much-needed help this Thanksgiving holiday. Not through paying a living wage. No, rather, they encouraged their employees to help each other out by donating cans of whole kernel corn and lima beans. Read more here.
And so, in cities throughout this country, retail workers are standing up, speaking out and in many cases walking out. Strikes have started happening already and will continue. Your shopping experience might be affected. And now you know why.
No American worker should be living in poverty. Period, exclamation point. It’s time to raise the wage and raise it without hesitation. Study after study shows that raising the minimum wage increases spending and stimulates the economy. Just ask executives and associates at Costco. Those who oppose it do so at their own expense.
As we pause to consider with gratitude all that we have this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s remember all those that make it happen. I’ll be picking up a pie or two to share later this week. Someone had to make it, put it on the shelf and ring it up. Another worker cleaned the aisle, ensuring that I didn’t fall on my posterior as I browsed the bakery section. They make my holiday traditions happen, and they deserve to earn a living wage just as much as I do.
When you see striking workers and protests happening in your neighborhood this week, take a moment to thank those braving the cold to stand up for the rights of workers everywhere. Better yet, put your new TV in the car and join them for a half hour. In the end, they are marching for you and for me as they march to improve the lives of all families.