It is interesting how ideas that less than four years ago were portrayed as controversial have now become mainstream. Republicans used to demand the repeal of Obamacare but now they claim that they oppose any lifting of the ban on denying people insurance because of pre-existing conditions. The idea of people being able to keep their children on their plans until they reach the age of 26 is also very popular. Bernie Sanders’ proposal of Medicare for All has been adopted by pretty much all the Democrats running for president.
But nowhere is the shift more apparent than in raising the minimum wage to a value of $15 per hour. Once decried by the business class as a job killer for introductory level jobs, we now find that even McDonalds, one of the biggest employers of such workers, has said that it will not lobby against hikes in the minimum wages at the federal, state, or local level. The Democratic caucus is currently debating a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.
The department store chain Target announced that they will raise the minimum wage for their employees to $13 an hour, going above Walmart’s $11, and is committed to raising it to $15 by the end of 2020.
The $15 minimum wage movement has found support from Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, part of a new crop of Democrats swept into office this year on a liberal platform.
“Croissants at LaGuardia (New York airport) are going for seven dollars a piece,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on April 1. “Yet some people think getting a whole hour of personal, dedicated human labor for $15 is too expensive??”
Amid the growing political pressure, other companies have also moved to raise wages. For example, Costco Wholesale Corp raised its minimum wage twice in a year and since March has been paying employees at least $15 an hour.
One hopes that this is the start of a competition to raise wages in order to recruit and retain good workers.