May 8, 2021


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Fight for $ 15: US retailer Costco increases hourly wages to $ 16 | News on the coronavirus pandemic

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The majority of Americans support the idea of ​​more than doubling the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, according to a new Reuters / Ipsos poll.

Costco Wholesale Corp raises the minimum wage for its hourly staff to $ 16 starting next week, a dollar more than its competitors Inc and Target Corp pay per hour and more than double the federal hourly minimum wage current in the United States of $ 7.25.

The member-only retailer’s move comes as United States President Joe Biden plans to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2025, and a week after rival Walmart Inc raised his hourly wage to an average of $ 15.

Costco chief executive officer Craig Jelinek made the announcement during a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing on worker wages at large companies.

“It takes a long time to interview, to find employees, a lot of work is involved just trying to hire people. We want people to stay with us, ”said Jelinek, responding to Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee.

The majority of Americans support the idea of ​​more than doubling the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. A new poll by the Reuters / Ipsos news agency found that 59% of those polled said they supported the idea, 34% opposed it.

A man holds up a minimum wage sign at a rally organized by fast food workers and supporters in Los Angeles, California, USA [File: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]

When told that “raising the minimum wage should lift some families out of poverty, but government economists also expect it will eliminate some low-income jobs, which could make things worse for some families ”, 55% of respondents said they supported him.

About 40% of American adults said they would benefit – either personally or through a family member – if the United States increased the federal minimum wage, according to the survey.

Based in Issaquah, Wash., Costco has more than 180,000 employees in the United States. The retailer experienced a sales boom during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers stocked their pantries.

The company, which raised the hourly wage to $ 15 in 2019, also offered a bonus to workers during the virus outbreak.

“In my past experience, wages usually don’t bankrupt people; the way you run your business will bankrupt you, ”Jelinek said at the hearing.

But as large companies increase their hourly wages, many small businesses have opposed a federal minimum wage of $ 15, saying it would lead to job cuts and job closures.

The minimum wage debate is also part of larger negotiations over the next round of US coronavirus relief. Senate Democrats are currently awaiting a decision on whether they can fit the $ 15 an hour measure into the proposed $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

The Democrats, who tightly control the House of Representatives and the Senate, are trying to push through the progressive politics without Republican votes through a maneuver known as reconciliation, which allows them to act with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 normal chamber voices. requirement.

The Senate parliamentarian is expected to decide on Thursday whether the rules will allow lawmakers to use the coronavirus spending bill to enact sweeping wage policy.

Even if Senatorial MP Elizabeth MacDonough decides that the minimum wage can be passed by reconciliation, that will not change the fact that the proposal faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Democrats are not united in supporting, with two of them – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – against the idea.

There is broader support in the Senate to raise the minimum wage by a smaller amount, and not by reconciliation.

On Tuesday, two Senate Republicans, Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney, proposed to raise the minimum wage to $ 10 an hour.

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