Ralph Nader has been lobbying Walmart for years to voluntarily raise their minimum wage, reminding the corporation that it’s in their best financial interests.
This week we’re seeing that the retail sector is slowly waking up to the sobering reality that when Americans don’t earn enough money they can’t shop. Walmart, America’s largest private sector employer, finally seems to get it. The retail behemoth announced last week it might support President Obama’s efforts to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.
Meanwhile The Gap says it is voluntarily raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Ralph Nader has shaped public policy for nearly five decades and has been the single greatest force in progressive politics since Teddy Roosevelt. His new book is Told You So. We talked about why raising the minimum wage is actually good for business:
David: What role does a higher minimum wage play in higher prices? If Walmart, for example, paid a livable wage to its workers, how much more expensive would all those shoddy items we never needed in the first place actually be?
Ralph: Well, here’s one study that will startle you. And that is, if Walmart took all its workers up to $12 or more an hour, and there’s a million Walmart workers making less than 1968 Walmart workers made adjusted for inflation, it would increase the average Walmart visit by a consumer and what the consumer buys by $0.43, that’s all. These are highly automated companies and that’s assuming Walmart wants to transfer it all to the consumer, not take it out of Mike Duke’s salary and others. Mike Duke, the CEO, makes $11,000 an hour plus benefits, not take it out of other things in the company, other than the workers’ hides. Even if they transfer everything to the consumer, it’s $0.43 a visit. Of course it’s a great stimulus plan too because tens of billions of dollars are rising out of restoration of the minimum wage to 1968 inflation adjusted levels would produce a lot of purchases and that creates jobs.
David: According to Goldman Sachs, the quintessential champion of the working man, they issued a new report saying American workers’ wages are growing at two percent per year, as you said, the slowest rate since 1965. Is this a new phenomenon where even people like Goldman Sachs are finally acknowledging income disparity? It seems to me as recently as three years ago people on the right, at least, were not admitting to a chasm between the very wealthy and the very poor. We’re now seeing that both sides are acknowledging it.
Ralph: That’s right, that’s the recent effort. We’ve been at this really vigorously now for five years, so we know the pulse as it grows. We’re trying to push the sluggish AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO has helped with getting demonstrators in front of McDonald’s and others, but it’s been really a slow push until about nine months ago when you see a quickening.
And one of the reasons is that the plutocrats are getting worried about reduced consumer expenditures, they’re saying, “Hey, if we don’t raise these minimum wage salaries, we’re not going to get the sales.” Even Walmart is starting to worry about that. And I think, and we’ve met with Walmart reps about two years ago, and I think that they’re about to come out with a support of the minimum wage. Maybe not as high as $10.90, but maybe they’ll support the $10.10 over three years that’s backed by George Miller and Nancy Pelosi, the leading Democrats that happen come from the one city, San Francisco, that has the highest minimum wage in the country which is, I think, about $10.50 per hour.
Ralph Nader has shaped public policy for nearly five decades and has been the single greatest force in progressive politics since Teddy Roosevelt. His new book is Told You So.
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