How bad is this country’s income inequality problem? The wage gap has grown so wide that increasingly even U.S. billionaires say a fix needs to be found – and fast.
For years, the nation’s elite seemed to turn a blind eye to the struggles of tens of millions of hardworking Americans. But that has become nearly impossible now. CEOs of the U.S.’s top companies make 361 times the average worker at their firms, up from 20 times more during the 1950s. That is not a healthy sign for the country’s economic future. But more importantly, it means too many workers aren’t able to pay the bills and support their families.
It’s true that the wages of the lowest-paid hourly workers in many states have been boosted recently by hikes in the minimum wage. That is a good thing, but is far from a full solution to the problem. Because more workers are now moving outside the traditional job market into the so-called “gig economy,” those wage increases don’t help them. And these new companies are taking full advantage of the situation.
A new report by labor group Working Washington, for instance, found that grocery-delivery startup Instacart is only paying on average $7.66 to workers there, far short of the $12 an hour minimum wage in Washington state. In fact, half of Instacart’s workers make less than the $7.25 federal minimum wage. The company is valued at nearly $8 billion.
“The results are alarming, and a renewal of our call to reboot the gig economy by establishing an hourly pay floor for contractors of $15 + expenses, with tips on top, and pay transparency,” Working Washington wrote in the document.
That certainly would be helpful. But you know what else would? A stronger union movement!
More Americans understand the value of being a member of a union, and are supportive of their goals for workers. And for good reason – the average member makes almost $10,000 more a year more than the average non-union worker. They are also more likely to receive health and retirement benefits as well.
Those who work all their lives and play by the rules deserve respect and dignity from employers. Too often, however, that isn’t happening. That’s why people need to get motivated and let their lawmakers know it is time they stand up for rank-and-file workers instead of their corporate cronies.
Only then will working Americans get the real change they deserve.