When I read Robert Reich’s blog last week, I was trying to decide what to write about. The more I read about the inequity in food and retail firms like McDonald’s and Walmart it became clear. If I am to call this blog “Inspired by Dorothy ,“ I have to support issues she would have participated in.
I am quite sure she would have been one of the first on the lines to help organize workers in these companies.
Reich’s article explains why the workers need to organize but also why they are afraid to do so. As he says “8 dollars an hour is better than no dollars an hour.” Workers are struggling hard and the thought of losing what little they have is a big deterrent to standing up.
Here is one fact from the column: “the percent of Americans living below the poverty line has been increasing even as the economy has started to recover — from 12.3 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2011. More than 46 million Americans now live below the poverty line.” That is a lot of people!
Most of those people have jobs, Reich says, and now I see the faces of the “working poor.” When you are bringing home the minimum wage today, you cannot feed even half a family for a week, on that, much less pay for health care or meet the rent payments.
I believe that we have to help in any way we can to change this situation – write letters, make calls, rally friends and demonstrate for better pay and benefits for these workers who have jobs and are so under paid. They only want a bit of what their CEO’s are taking away — many millions of dollars in one year. Let’s start the conversation in homes and offices. One employee in a store front demonstration — on a positive note — said, “We have a common interest in making this great company better.”
In whatever way we can, we need to be that “option for the poor” that our faith leaders preach. They cannot do it alone. Let’s see what we can do in our own county and state; maybe we can help bring some pressure to bear on the corporations’ top management, and get Washington’s attention too.
I didn’t take part in the demonstration in front of Wal-Mart on Black Friday but it got my attention and my in- tention is to be at the next one.