Thursday, February 23, 2017

My 1500 cents

Call me naive, call me a lunatic, but more businesses need to pay more than market minimum. Workers are more productive than ever. Think about that drive-thru employee is listening to your order while transacting with the person ahead of you. Now that that's in your head, do you remember what it's like to talk to two people at once about different things? Granted, you're not exactly discussing the merits of universal healthcare and basic income with the drive-thru associate, but multitasking in that way requires practice. Now, add money handling and some spot reading for entering these items into a console. Is that skill really only marginally valuable? Is that really what fast food workers did 20 years ago?

What about clerical work? It's true that certain types of knowledge are left to your supervisors and co-workers, like processes, policies, and management. However, so many questions can be Googled verbatim and avoid the labor of old school research. During my telephone customer service job at Zumiez, 15 of us (in shifts of 8-10 people) handled website issues, orders and store feedback for 600 stores across the nation. One phone call could have me using up to 8 different applications. This could not have been done at this level of efficiency 25 years ago, plain and simple.

Most of those store owners and CEOs didn't have to work at that capacity in that position in their time. I'm not saying they didn't have their challenges, but there needs to be a lot more empathy for raising the wage floor. The workforce asks a lot of their employees, and it's insulting to argue against raising minimum wage.

Obviously, opponents of raising minimum wage aren't against paying employees more. You'll hear reasoning that higher wages mean higher prices in general rising. Well, maintaining the status quo has screwed us over. Also, products aren't going to cost $6 per hour more. That is impossible. People might have a few years of tight wallets while the markets adjust, but I am positive about the outcome. Hopefully some opportunists will sock away their extra funds in this period of adjustment.

A restaurant in Seattle did away with tips after making the change in wages. So, while their menu prices have gone up, customers who are satisfied with their servers making a living wage won't be shelling out that much more to eat. Of course, frugal peeps like you and me say they should be cooking at home, and that this is a luxury anyway! However, I don't want that to detract from the case I'm building that the conscientious customer force is growing; there are lots of people who pay more because they know workers get more. This doesn't have to be just restaurants. Consider the consumers who make an effort to buy products made in America because the goods are likely produced under fair work conditions. Whole Foods and Costco don't show any signs of slouching on prices or employee pay. These businesses are certainly targeting those who have the money for it, and the $15 minimum would welcome some people into this group. That oughtta do some good, eh?

Then there are others who currently make under $15 and more than minimum wage, and fear they'll suddenly be out-earned. Are you kidding me? Do you really think your profession's unions and employees won't demand more once they see the world still standing after such a dramatic change? If not, quit your job and apply for the new minimum wage!

One last common argument against raising the minimum wage is that there will be less work to go around. Automation is coming anyway, and businesses have long been shafting employees of benefits by keeping them under full-time status. Also, I've stitched together 3 jobs to make a living before: this new minimum may mean people in that position only have to work 2.

So that's my 1500 cents on minimum wage. Cost of living is going up anyway, and we all work hard and so deserve it. If you are in Seattle, you're all set cause it's coming. Maybe we can next focus on the stingy bullshit 2 weeks annual vacation, or ridiculous heavy-handedness in giving managers bonuses that they don't pass on to their underlings next. Maybe we can abolish or limit exempt (overtime without pay) and keep the deserving managers a little happier.

1 comment:

Exxuendo said...

You raise a good point about multitasking. We assume that the workers who demonstrate for a $15 minimum wage are unskilled. Actually, even "unskilled" has undergone an upgrade in the past generation or two.

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