Then & Now: Livable Wage

In 1940 my grandparents moved their family of 7 children, from San Antonio, Texas to Los Angeles. My Grandfather worked for Safeway, the grocery store chain, unloading trucks at the produce depot in Los Angeles, now the DTLA Row. The job paid a wage that supported a family of nine. My grandparents were able to buy a home (Central Los Angeles on the corner of 25th and Hoover, near Adams, 11 blocks north of the USC campus), feed, clothe, and educate their children at private Catholic schools. There was no reliance on government assistance. At that time, workers earned a livable wage. No one categorized my Grandfather’s job as “transitional work” to something better, and therefore justifiably inadequately compensated. Workers who give their full time effort (eight hours a day) have committed their labor, their life, to the success of the company; the company’s profits, and existence, rests on the backs of those employees.

If you work full time for McDonald’s, you work full time, and you deserve a livable wage. If customers are not willing to pay the true cost of a hamburger to support livable wages, then McDonald’s has no right to stay in business. If just a single employee requires government assistance, then the taxpayer is subsidizing the success of the employer.

My Grandmother was born and raised in Texas and my Grandfather was born in Monterey, Mexico in 1898. According to family lore, my grandfather’s father worked for the Mexican railroad. Moving back and forth across the US/Mexican border for work was commonplace. He and his family eventually settled in Texas where he met my Grandmother; they married and had seven children. My Grandfather never became a citizen. In those early years, not applying for citizenship was commonplace, especially for my Grandfather, as he had deep roots in this country and ended up in Texas as naturally as if had been born there. However, in the 60s, immigration issues become a part of the political landscape. My Grandfather’s formal education ended after the third grade, and, I believe his lack of education made him fearful about the law, and consequently, he was nervous about applying for citizenship, out of fear of deportation, even after a lifetime of living in the US. My grandparents worked hard, together, and provided for their family, and never asked for, or expected, government assistance. They provided for their 7 children, with a single income. They were married and united as one for over 60 years.

The noblesse oblige of an employer, especially in corporate America, should be nothing short than to provide a Livable Wage. No one wants charity. When one needs charity, the help is appreciated, however, it can be, nonetheless, an indignity to one’s soul. We need to resist the evolution of a society in which human worth is essentially devalued by government provided entitlements. It is contrary to the human endeavor.

My Grandfather: 1978

$5.1 Billion: McDonald’s Sales 1st Qtr 2021

According the Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2021, “McDonald’s reported total sales of $5.1 billion for the quarter, up 9% from the previous year’s period and more than that quarter in 2019 as well.”

Shares of McDonald’s rose 1% to $234

It’s time to boycott McDonald’s until they guarantee a livable wage to their employees. If they have to raise their prices then that simply represents the true cost of a hamburger and if they can’t stay in business, too bad. In the short term there might be job losses but it’s time to shift the economy and jobs away from business who count on government assistant programs to keep their workers buoyed. It’s time for public corporations to shift their primary concern to their workers rather than their shareholders.

U.S. Stocks Rise as Dow Hits Record

The Stock Market clearly demonstrates how labor is underpaid and undervalued by companies that trade their stock on the public exchanges. Share holder revenue advances greater gains than employee wages. Employees are doing all the work while share holders consider their risks. Companies with publicly traded stock should be required to pay their employees a livable wage or stop trading. Consider the gains for 2020 during a pandemic and unprecedented unemployment levels.

According to the Wall Street Journal (12/31/2020):
The Dow Jones Industrial Average clinched its 13th record close of the year Wednesday, lifted by a climb in Walt Disney shares and bets on a rapid economic recovery.

The recent signing of a coronavirus aid bill and rollout of vaccines have bolstered expectations that the economy will quickly rebound from the pandemic, fueling gains in everything from entertainment companies to raw materials producers.

The blue chips added 73.89 points, or 0.2%, to 30409.56. The S&P 500 gained 5.00 points, or 0.1%, to 3732.04, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 19.78 points, or 0.2%, to 12870.00.

Together the three indexes have notched 100 record closes in 2020, the most in a year since 2017, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (November 12, 2020):
The unemployment rate decreased by 1.0 percentage point to 6.9 percent in October 2020. That was the sixth consecutive month the rate has declined, but it was still nearly twice the February rate of 3.5 percent. Unemployment rates in October fell to 6.0 percent for Whites, 10.8 percent for Blacks, 7.6 percent for Asians, and 8.8 percent for Hispanics.

Among the unemployed, the number of people on temporary layoff fell by 1.4 million in October to 3.2 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 2.4 million higher than in February. The number of permanent job losers, at 3.7 million, changed little in October but is 2.4 million higher than in February.