Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Even if you can't be out in the streets today with the striking fast food workers, you can still support a livable wage for all workers.

Call your Congress Person.  (Call, don't email or write.)  Make sure to tell them if you are a registered voter, and your name, address, etc.  They've never called me back, and neither MO (R) Roy Blunt (573-334-7044)  or MO (D) Claire McCaskill (573-651-0964) has ever added me to their mailing list, even though I have called and emailed with my address.  But part of this process is to tie up their phone lines and time, and make them at least pretend to listen to their constituents.

Call the locals too- your mayor, state representative, etc. It's important to jam the phone lines as much as possible on this issue.  Remember, the person answering the phones might be making minimum wage, too. 

Call the Corporate Headquarters of Fast Food and Retail Giants:

McDonalds  1-800-244-6227
Burger King 1 866 394 2493
Taco Bell 1-800-822-6235
Jack In the Box 1-858-522-4716
KFC 1-800-225-5532

Fortune 500 list of top corporations in the US
National Retailers list of top 100

Wal-Mart  1-800-925-6278
CVS 1-800-746-7287
Apple 1-800-692-7753
Kroger 1-800-576-4377
Walgreens 1-888-782-8443
Target 1-800-440-0680
Lowes 1-800-445-6937
Home Depot 1-800-466-3337
Amazon 1-866-486-2360
Best Buy 1-877-415-3487
Safeway 1-877-723-3929
Family Dollar 1-866-377-6420

When you call you can simply say:
"I support a living wage for all workers in the USA.  Raise the minimum wage to $15.  And I believe all workers should have the right to form a union."

But you don't have to stop there. (And if you are reading this after 10 November 2015, you can call anytime.) You can also say:

"I support raising the minimum salary requirement for exempt employees to $131,000 a year."  (Note: after doing the math I realized $75k is too low, if you read previous posts where I was supporting that. I think that figure came from a proposal by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  $75k is still too low.
168 X $15 = $2520.  Yearly = $131,040.  See below.) 

Exempt employee salary minimum is currently $23,660 a year, or $455 a week.  That is what McDonalds pays their store managers.  In a state like Missouri, with almost no workers rights, that means that McD's can legally require that employee to be available for work 168 hours a week, with no breaks allotted for sleep or time off.

They can also deduct up to half the weeks pay if the exempt employee is unavailable for work for PART OF one day.  (Read the FLSA exempt employee rules here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/ )

168 hours in a week X $7.65 per hour MO minimum wage =  $1285.20 per week, which is a yearly salary of $66,830.40

This shouldn't even be legal right now. If an exempt employee is REQUIRED to always be available for work, then they should be paid minimum wage for every hour of the week.

(Yes, that's right, they don't have let you take any breaks in Missouri, even to go to the bathroom.  There is a state mandate for 6 hours of night relief for sleep in nursing homes and residential care facilities where the manager lives on the premises, but the employer can stipulate a waiver of that in the employment agreement.)

You can also bring up Executive to Worker salary ratios.  Ask "What is the average pay of a McDonald's worker?  What is the average pay- with bonuses- of McDonald's executives?"

Ask them how much their corporation pays in taxes to the US government every year?  Ask if they have actually paid that amount or if the payment has been deferred?

Ask them what their company's net profits were? How many minimum wage hours their company paid in that same year.  If your calculator can handle the numbers do the math. IE,  total non exempt, minimum wage employee hours paid (that means all the hours worked by all the minimum wage employees) times the additional $7.50 per hour with the wage increase = a number probably too big for a calculator.  Then subtract that number from the $5-29 Billion in net profits McD's made in 2014.

Remind them that the minimum wage hasn't not increased with inflation since 1970. Worker productivity has increased and with that factor the minimum wage should really be closer to $20. Remind them that what has increased since 1970 is corporate profits, executive salaries and bonuses, and credit card debt. Remind them they are paying $17-20 in other countries like Denmark and Australia. Ask them why American workers don't deserve a livable wage?

And don't let anyone get away with "well those people should know that is a character building job" or "those people should get a college degree and a real job."  Fast food and retail are the biggest job markets, and are in every neighborhood.  If these jobs are so unimportant why are there so many of them.  If we all become nurses and lawyers and secretaries, will we stop eating fast food?  Who will serve it and cook it?

These big corporations get subsidies for development and construction from state and local governments.  Local governments give them sales tax breaks for moving in and "creating jobs".  Local retailers and restaurants do not get those tax breaks or development funds.

Retailers like WalMart make huge profits from food stamp sales, and many of their full time workers are on public assistance.  Don't like welfare? Raise the wage.

Some pink and white collar workers that make $15 an hour think it is unfair that fast food workers will receive the same pay.  It's likely that other wages will increase once the minimum wage goes up.  And don't forget, this is not just about fast food.  This is about nursing assistants, home health workers, 911 dispatchers in many states.  Pink and white collar workers, please be honest and ask yourself some questions.  Is the only thing that makes your $15 an hour job worthwhile is that you are making more than the current minimum wage?  And the fear that you will be a minimum wage employee if your company doesn't raise your pay after the wage increase?

Shouldn't you be fighting for more too?  Better wages, more benefits, unions and workers cooperatives.  The entire relationship between employers and employees has to change.  It cannot be "corporate profits over people" or "shareholders over employees."

If a business can't survive without paying poverty wages maybe that business should close.  Many small businesses are just as bad WalMart and Amazon and Exxon in terms of what they pay versus what they keep for the executives.  And small businesses generally have fewer benefits, and close more frequently.

Workers need to take more control of the workplace.  Hiring needs to be transparent on both sides.  Employers should be drug tested, credit checked, and payroll accounts should be transparent.  Employers should have more qualifications than simply having the money to start a business.  They should have to demonstrate that they know what they are doing!

Take the first step today and make some calls!  Demand a better world for all of us! Demand a working relationship with your employer!  Demand a living wage!

Anyone who works full time deserves a livable wage.  $15 IS the minimum wage.  It's just not THE LAW... yet.  These companies are not going to give it to us.  We have to demand it. 

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