In the past year, the debate surrounding the minimum wage has erupted. Workers at successful retailers like Walmart and Gap, fed up with working hard but not earning enough to get by, stood up and spoke out, demanding that these giant retailers share in their success, and pay their employees a living wage.
In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he spoke about raising the federal minimum wage, and what else needs to be done to close the widening income gap, and reverse the rate of poverty in America.
It looks like the efforts of workers in the retail, fast food, and other low-wage industries is finally paying off, as action on raising the minimum wage has been taken in many cities across the country. And now, in a huge announcement today, Gap, America’s largest clothing-focused chain in America, has declared it will raise its wages to $10 an hour by next year. This change, which will affect over 65,000 workers (including those at Gap’s Old Navy and Banana Republic), comes ahead of a potential increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
And in more good news, Walmart, who has notoriously been very reluctant to pay associates enough to earn a living wage, is now considering a raise in their wages as well–thanks to the actions of members in worker-led groups like For Respect. Walmart has seen a hit in business in the last year, demonstrating how their business model of punishing workers is failing.
In a Bloomberg article posted this morning, UFCW President Joe Hansen’s statement on Gap’s announcement was quoted: “It is time for Walmart to stand up and lead by investing back into its 1.4 million U.S. workers with hourly pay increases.”
As President Hansen noted, when companies treat and compensate their workers fairly, they are investing in their own business, and strengthening the communities around them. It’s time for Walmart to follow Gap’s lead, and listen to the workers who have been calling for change for so long. No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.
Recent polls continue to show that the support for increasing minimum wages is stronger than ever from Americans across the country. As President Barack Obama stated in his State of the Union, it’s time America got a raise.
You can watch a clip about Gap’s decision to raise wages below: