Despite the current upswing in revenue, large American corporations have decided to keep employee wages uncomfortably low while corporate profits increase. Of the 12 companies that are paying their American employees the least, 7 are in the restaurant industry. These include, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster), Dine Equity (Applebee’s, IHOP), and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC). These companies are within the confides of the law with the nation’s minimum wage regulations, but these employees are getting less bang for their buck than they should. The current minimum wage is worth 30% less in terms of purchasing power than it was in 1968. The other offenders of this immoral salary situation are national retail giants like Walmart, Target, and Sears. Being compared to Walmart is rarely a good thing. In this scenario Walmart is an especially bad company, since it is pretty well known that the Walmart CEO, Mike Duke, makes more in one hour than one of his employees makes in an entire year.
The recession was a good reason for many of these companies to reduce employee pay, benefits, and opportunity such as full-time employment and overtime hours. However, many of these large companies have now been making profit for several years. My first thought in defense of these 12 companies was that their employee salaries might have continued to stay low because companies are now required to provide health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) and couldn’t afford to increase salaries. While that seemed to make sense, I discovered that these same companies that are paying low wages also have “a history of poor labor relations in employee benefits.” I also learned that “improvements in employee benefits or an increase in pay have not materialized for workers.” So these employees are not receiving health benefits as a trade-off of for a lower salary. There is no longer any need to under-pay employees. But rather than increasing low employee salaries, these corporations have seen this as an opportunity to increase revenue and pad executive salaries.
It’s difficult to revitalize the lower and middle classes when executives are quietly making a killing and employees struggle to make ends meet during the first economic upswing in years. It is frustrating to hear these same executives complain about the constraints of the Affordable Care Act while their wallets are getting fat at a record pace. In order to return to normalcy a little humanity has to shine through the greed and selfishness that has taken over American corporations. Perhaps, the minimum wage needs to be raised to reflect the current economic market since employers have proven that they are incapable of doing the right thing on their own.