When corporate lobbyists and the Congress critters they control attack efforts to raise the minimum wage to at least a bare level of human decency, they always try to cast the issue as an intolerable squeeze on struggling mom & pop stores. But wait what are those growling gorillas doing behind mom & pop’s cash register?
Why they’re multibillion-dollar, brand-name chains. These corporate behemoths not mom & pop are the chief exploiters of millions of lowwage American workers. They’re rank profiteers, constantly lobbying in Congress, states, and cities to hold down working families, even as they wallow in record profits and shell out exorbitant, multimillion-dollar paychecks to their top executives.
When the people of Seattle recently agreed to raise the minimum pay in their city to $15 an hour, an outfit called the International Franchise Association wept crocodile tears for local small business owners, pledging to sue the city to overturn the wage law. Don’t look now, but IAF is not local and does not represent mom & pop. It’s a Washington, D.C., lobbying consortium made up of franchised corporate chains intent on keeping America’s wage floor beneath the poverty level.
The chairman of IAF’s executive committee is a McDonald’s executive. Its board of directors sparkles with a who’s who of superwealthy corporations, including Coca Cola, Marriott Hotels, Dunkin Donuts, Pepsi Food Services and Taco Bell. Excuse me if I don’t weep over the of them finally being made to pay honest wages.
While our thoroughly corporatized Congress continues to side with such low-wage exploiters, cities and states across the country are standing up for America’s workaday majority and the common good. Paying a fair wage is not a matter of corporate accounting, but a measure of our wealthy society’s moral character.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.