Fight for $15 takes step forward

Two hugely significant reports just released have given credibility and energy to the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage. That fight has been carried by fast food workers striking and taking other job actions across the country with assistance from the Service Employees International Union, other unions, faith leaders and community organizations.

New York based think tank Demos released a report that shows that fast food CEO’s make 1,000 times as much as their average full time employee. Given the fact that most fast food workers don’t work full time, the inequality in take home is even more obscene.

This new report completely undermines ANY legitimacy the fast food industry had in arguing against President Obama’s initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and tie it or index it to increases in the cost of living.

The most egregious example is Starbucks whose CEO takes home $36 million a year. But Taco Bell, KFC, Chipotle and others are right behind the latte giant.

The Washington, DC think tank Institute for Policy Studies also just released a report on restaurant CEO pay showing that 20 of the largest restaurant chains in America rip off the American tax payer by $200 million a year by paying their CEO’s in tax deductible stock options worth $660 million a year.

Arguably the worst problem in the American economy is the huge gap in wealth and income between those at the top of the economy and everyone else. Wages have essentially stagnated for 40 years while the income of the top 10 percent has grown astronomically. The stagnation of wages at the bottom of the economy has starved consumer spending and demand for goods and services. The huge CEO pay, shareholder returns and other unearned income at the top of the economy has done nothing for the American economy as it has been hoarded in offshore tax havens or invested in the lowest wage countries around the world. This last point is discussed in detail in the book I co-wrote with economist Dr. Richard Levins called “Getting America Back to Work.”

Photo: Fight for 15 Facebook page


Stewart Acuff
Stewart Acuff

Stewart Acuff is Organizing Director of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees 1199 in Philadelphia.