Workers pressure employers to raise wages as holiday shopping season begins
ROCHESTER, Minn. –A worker was there to pick up the phone from Ragstock inside the Apache Mall on Wednesday after employees said they were exiting.
Earlier this week, a sign stuck to the door of the clothing store read: “Due to the fact that the employees here in Ragstock are unappreciated and overworked and underpaid, this store will be closed until that they can hire staff who are willing to work for them. “
A similar post was seen at one of his neighbors, The Hot Topic, a few weeks ago, claiming that almost all of the staff had left because they were not making a living wage. Businesses across the country have experienced dead ends like these more and more in recent months, and experts say several factors are pushing employees to quit their jobs.
“Over the past few weeks to the past two months, workers have been a little more emboldened,” said Rayce Hardy, KIMT News 3 policy analyst, professor of economics at Riverland Community College.
Hardy believes a high profile strike at John Deere that saw concessions for workers and a 1.2% drop in average hourly wages after adjusting for inflation are two factors pushing employees to withdraw.
“You put those two things together, the feeling that” hey, maybe this is the time when I have a chance to push for higher wages “, with the mathematical fact that after adjusting for inflation , I have less purchasing power as a worker, ”that’s when you’re going to see it,” Hardy said.
Frequent corporate share buybacks and failure to adjust minimum wage rates are also contributing to the tension, Hardy says, as well as pandemic concerns about safety.
“You have a psychological situation where people are attacked by customers, workers are attacked verbally and even physically, and then you have the health side.”
When asked if the convergence of these factors led workers to believe they had more leverage to negotiate higher wages, Hardy replied “definitely”.
“I think that in general workers feel they have more weight. He continued, “Now, I’m not sure the workers really have more weight, but there is definitely a feeling in the worker that they have more weight.”
Hardy believes that workers currently have additional bargaining power in some ways, varying by industry and geography. However, based on the story, he sees that the additional leverage is short lived.
“Our savings rate increased dramatically during the pandemic, for two reasons. The first was that so many things were closed, so people were doing a lot more things at home. The second reason was the fiscal policy of the federal government. , pumping money into people’s bank accounts through stimulus checks. Well, as we see now, saving is coming back to its usual level, gradually getting closer to it. And if I feel now that I have accumulated savings, it may take a few months off to find another job, well, when those savings run out, I’m going to have to go back, I’m going to have to go look for a job. “
Hardy adds that more than half of all states have raised their minimum wages, and if they can, so has the federal government.