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Fight for 15

Retail Adjusting to the Market

Target to increase wages and Walmart increases hours, but is it enough?

Brian Young's picture
Sep 26, 2017

Over the last few years, the Fight for $15 campaign has fought for low-wage workers to get a raise. While some states like New York and California are on track to increase their minimum wages to $15/hr, many states have failed to make the needed increases. With gridlock in many statehouses, pressure has been put on some of the largest low-wage businesses, like Target and Wal-Mart to set a standard by raising their wage. Now, Target has stepped up to the plate with a plan to get all of their employees to $15/hr.

During a call with the media, Target CEO Brian Cornell announced the company would start raising their minimum wage next month so that all employees make $11/hr. Further, they will continue to increase wages so that they reach a new minimum of $15/hr by 2020. While the company refused to say how many employees are paid under $11/hr currently, 100,000 temporary workers who will be hired for the upcoming holiday season will get the raise.

As Target announced their raises, Walmart also announced that this holiday season they will increase workers’ hours instead of hiring thousands of new seasonal workers. One complaint that many workers at Walmart have had is that as wages increased, their hours decreased. Since a worker only needs 34 hours to receive full-time benefits at Walmart, an increase in hours will mean that many employees will now qualify.

While these changes are important and encouraging for the Fight for $15 movement, more action is needed. While $15 has been the standard for a number of years, by 2020 $15 won’t be high enough to meet increasing living costs. For workers at Walmart, the increased hours will give some workers more benefits but still doesn’t deal with the fact that the minimum wage at Walmart is only $10/hr. Both retailers need to institute further plans to make sure that wages continue to rise with the cost of living past 2020 so that their workers aren’t forced to constantly come back to the company begging for wages that allow them to survive.

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