Editor’s Note: The Democratic Daily welcomes Bob Higgins, from Worldwide Sawdust as a guest contributor:
The minimum wage battle continues, with unions and workers fighting for an entry level raise for honest American workers that has been denied for nearly a decade while the dispassionate empty suits of business, their lackeys in local and national Chambers of Commerce, and the evil lick spittle minions they have purchased wholesale in our government at all levels, make pious pronouncements about the “marketplace” and the peril of allowing the government to regulate wages. In the meantime, I’ve been talking to my friend, Jane.
Jane is a hardworking person, a decent, honest, American citizen, whose children are grown and now, divorced, has found herself forced to stay in the workplace to support the cost of her health insurance.
Jane has worked in the service sector as a Server in various restaurants for many years. As I say, she has a good work ethic and goes in every day, works hard, hustles and takes care of her customers, many of whom are regulars and patronize the restaurant in large part due her friendly attitude and the good service she provides.
The company that Jane works for is a large one with more than twenty five thousand employees working all over the country in various restaurant enterprises as well as other areas of the industry. (This ain’t Ma and Pa Kettle’s Corner Choke and Chew.) They are a very successful company and make a lot of money. A whole, big, heaping lot of money.
Their upper management is exceptionally well compensated and middle management is able to live very comfortably. The individual managers make a decent living, but, being at the bottom of the management food chain, they are often taken advantage of with long hours, chronic micro-management and the ever present threat of uncertainty in their continued employment.
And then there’s Jane. Jane worked thirty five hours last week, from four in the afternoon until closing time, which is usually around eleven in the evening. She works five shifts a week, bustling around performing all the functions expected of her by a demanding management and an often more demanding clientele. She does her job as a Server well, with an easy grace and earns decent tips. (Note the word decent.) (Also note the word earns) Jane manages, on the tips she brings home after taxes, to support herself in a small apartment, drive the twenty five mile round trip to work in an older model used car of somewhat questionable reliability, and rise each day to iron a fresh uniform to do it all again. She has worked for this particular company for ten years.
For the services she provides to the company, let’s just call them “Big Flo’s Diner and Steam Table Amalgamated International Restaurant Barons and Bloated Plutocrat Chop House” they pay Jane two dollars and thirty six cents an hour. That’s $2.36 per hour and Jane is a “Team Leader,” the others on her team,, the “Team Members” make $2.13 per hour.
Let that settle a minute.
Thirty five hours at $2.36 per hour comes to $82.60. for a week’s worth of work, five days, thirty five hours, hustling through the rushes, being gracious to all, waiting tables, dealing with kitchen screw ups, correcting mistakes, being a diplomat, for ironing five uniforms, for buying gas at nearly $3.00 per gallon and driving one hundred and twenty five miles back and forth to work every week …… $82.60.
That is all it costs the company, (“Big Flo’s”) to have her available, to have her show up every day with her friendly personality, her ability to make customers feel comfortable and well treated five out of seven days a week …. $82.60
From the princely sum which “Big Flo’s” pays her, the Government of the United States extracts it’s Federal Withholding Tax and Social Security, the State of Ohio puts it’s gentle grasp on it’s due, and the City of Dayton, Ohio takes their cut.
She invests part of the remainder in a 401K (Her portfolio would not impress you) and also pays her health insurance. (Nor would her medical plan)
When she takes her check to the bank every week she makes out a deposit slip for $13.00 and change, and not much change.
The Congress of the United States recently accepted another cost of living increase which brought their annual compensation to something over $165,000. They have received these increases with clockwork regularity for the last eight years. In all, over this period, they have granted themselves cost of living raises of over $35,000. The aggregate sum of their annual cost of living increases during this period is close to the median income for an American family of four. And we’re talking about one venal, blow dried, charlatan bastard in a lunch stained power tie with martini breath, cheese in his teeth and his hand in America’s pocket.
That, amount, $35,000, is more than the total Jane has been paid by “Big Flo’s” in over eight years or 20,000 days. But who’s counting?
Lee Raymond of Exxon Mobil fame, (infamy in some quarters) who is possibly the ugliest and most hideously bloated of all of our current crop of wretched American plutocrats and robber barons is reported to have been compensated at the rate of $144,000 a day over the last ten years.
On one Casual Friday Lee Raymond came to work, probably around mid morning, left early for a Friday afternoon round of golf with a foursome of like minded criminals and made more money than Jane has been paid by “Big Flo” in her entire career as a Server.
Jane would probably have to work six months to pay the greens fees.
For every dollar of excess profit that this company and the myriad of American businesses of the same ilk salts away, for every dollar of executive bonus, for every outlandish perquisite and privilege, there is a dollar missing from the pay envelope of an honest hardworking and decent person like Jane.
Minimum wage hell, Fair wage, Living wage, anything less amounts to the same serfdom that brought these disgusting one per centers their wealth, power, and ultimate political control in the first place.
It is time for class warfare all right, it has been waged from the top, and upon the bottom economic tiers of society for most of human history.
It is past time for a reversal, for labor to stand and demand, no, to seize it’s due and unpaid wages.