May 2021 Newsletter
By now, many of you have seen the stories claiming people aren’t working because they’re making more on unemployment. We’ve seen signs on stores that have said things like, “We can’t open because no one wants to work.”
However, that’s the wrong angle and not the whole story. I wanted to share a story about employees at aDollar General in Maine.Berndt Erikson has worked at Dollar General since last June, making $13.25 an hour. According to the Living Wage Calculatorcreated by MIT, Erikson, who is supporting her brother who has been out of work due to a health condition since before the pandemic, needs to make $23.88/hour to support her family – more than double what she was getting paid. Dollar General made $8B in revenue in 2021 and the CEO made $12M in salary and incentives in 2019. Think about that.
And it’s not just about pay. Otherworkers speaking out through storefront signs cite safety concerns related to COVID, fatigue over being yelled at by belligerent customers, overly burdensome hiring processes and lack of benefits.
We’ve said that we can’t return to ‘normal’, because the old ‘normal’ didn’t work for everyone. We’ve called frontline workers “heroes” and “essential”. Now that the recovery is beginning, it’s time to walk our talk.
That means no longer accepting the argument that businesses large and small will always have to rely on workers enduring unsustainable, unsafe, and unhealthy jobs. Whether they be in rideshare, fast food, child care or retail, business models that depend on exploiting people are broken, and will always be an obstacle to thriving communities.
People want to work, they want to feel good about the work that they do, and they deserve to be treated respectfully and fairly compensated for their work.
Read on for examples of businesses doing the right thing, and resources for business, philanthropy and workforce development to help shape a people-centered future.
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