Union Food & Groceries
By Kate Gatto
Food is one of the few products that consumers actually have to have. It’s not a want like a new sweater, it’s not a convenience like a dishwasher. It is one of the few basic and legitimate needs of this life. Does that mean it is exempt from our beliefs about fair labor? Of course not, workers in all sectors should be able to support their families with the full-time work that they do.
Why is This Important?
It matters because it allows people of all levels of the economic ladder and to be able to support themselves and their families with the fruits of their labors. And that is something anyone who works full-time should be able to do.
If you want to learn more about how minimum wage is not a living wage for a family great detailed information is available from the Poverty Research Center at the University of California. You may be startled to find exactly how little a minimum-wage paycheck can do for even an average size family. By supporting a living wage you are not only insuring these people can meet their own basic needs, but you are also reducing the usage of public support services, many of which minimum-wage families qualify for and use to get by.
Won’t Supporting Higher-Paying Companies Put A Strain on My Budget?
Of course in the current economy, even the most socially conscious person has to be worried about the impact of their choices on their budget. Many who argue against living wages do so under the guise of price increases for the average consumer.
Research however suggest that this is not the case. Research conducted by The Labor Center at University of California at Berkley, using Wal-Mart as an example, showed the following, “Our analysis reveals that establishing a higher minimum wage for large retailers like Wal-Mart would have a significant impact on workers living in poverty or near-poverty.
We find that 41.4 percent of the pay increase would go to workers in families with total incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (200 percent FPL). These poor and low-income workers could expect to earn an additional $1,670 to $6,500 a year in income for each Wal-Mart employee in the family, before taxes.
Even if Wal-Mart were to pass 100 percent of the wage increase on to consumers, the average impact on a Wal-Mart shopper would be quite small: 1.1 percent of prices, well below Wal-Mart’s estimated savings to consumers. This works out to $0.46 per shopping trip, or $12.49 per year, for the average consumer who spends approximately $1,187 per year at Wal-Mart.
This is the most extreme estimate, as portions of the raise could be absorbed through other mechanisms, including increased productivity or lower profit margins.” As Wal-Mart is both a large company, and one that is increasingly encroaching on the territory of professional grocery stores, it is well worth knowing that you probably shouldn’t pick up your next can of peaches from this notoriously labor unfriendly company.
Which Companies Should I Shop At?
When it comes to grocery stores there is actually a lot of good news. Grocery stores are very union heavy. This means you are likely to be able to find a company in your local area that sells groceries at a good price and treats its workers fairly.
Why do unions matter? Because they allow workers to make collective demands on issues such as hourly rates, cost of living increases, and health benefits to make a living wage much more likely. You don’t even have to look hard to find a list of union grocers, Labor 411 provides a handy listing online. Grocery chains, and food manufacturers, from that listing include:
As you can see when it comes to getting the groceries you need to feed your family, there are a lot of options for employee friendly labor. The odds are very slim that you would not be able to find at least one of these retailers in your local area.