To The Daily Sun,
Recently, there have been several letters regarding raising the minimum wage. Having been a retail manager, spanning some 40 years, I have a few opinions and observations.
Prior to the last recession, retail was a field where an individual could earn a fair wage, have the opportunity to advance, enjoy numerous benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) options, profit sharing to name a few. Since then, the field has dramatically changed. Companies have eliminated a large percentage of their full-time positions, replacing them with part-time, unbenefited positions.
Many companies have not given cost of living increases in years. One company, that I will not name, has not given their store employees a raise in six years. During my time as a store manager, when we did receive an increase, it was in the range of 2.5 to 3 percent storewide. This had to be distributed according to job performance. If, for example, you had an exceptional employee, they would receive 25 cents. To accomplish this, two other employees might only receive 10 cents.
The figure of $7.25 seems to be the magical number. Several of our contributors have asserted that this was solely meant for the entry-level worker — a kid just starting out. True in theory, but far from practice. No one seems to factor in the individual who was hired at say, $7.50 an hour or $8. How can anyone possibly survive? Now, factor in the following: It has become the practice of many companies to over-hire. Suppose you have a staff of 10, with the part-timers getting 20 hours a week. Now, if you increase the staff to 15, the hours shrink to maybe 8 or 12. Multiply this by $7.50. How many jobs would these individuals have to work to earn a living wage? Questioning the morality of this, I have been told, "They're lucky to have jobs."
Now factor in that these individuals have no sick time, no vacation pay and no paid holidays.
I cannot fathom that this could possibly be considered acceptable.
In his recent letter Mr. McCoole declared that anyone who favored raising the minimum wage was a "low-intelligence voter". If disagreeing with his views is the determining factor of my intelligence, so be it ... I'm dumb. I never presume to present my "opinions" as facts. If advocating a fair, reasonable wage classifies me as a "bleeding heart liberal" and a "donkey," I'm okay with that, too.
June M. Huot