The week in work: marching for equality, measuring inequality, not-so-false equivalencies, and more.
The M doesn’t actually stand for Macklemore
Seattle’s annual MLK celebration brought thousands of people together for a day of workshops, rallies, and a long march under the theme “Fight for Your Rights in 2015". Malcolm Cooper-Suggs, a McDonald’s worker and leader with Working Washington spoke in front of the King County Jail about the links between poverty & incarceration, earning him some well-deserved public notice and the visibly rapt attention of Macklemore.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s itself is now facing a discrimination lawsuit after employees at a Virginia location were reportedly fired with the ugly justification that “there are too many black people in the store.”
Je suis Versailles
A new report by Oxfam International found that by next year, 1% of the world's population will own more wealth than everyone else on the planet, combined. For real: a very small number of ultra-wealthy people will control a majority of the world’s riches. The report also finds that just 80 individuals have accumulated more wealth than the 3.5 billion poorest people. Four of these 80 live in Washington; four more are heirs to the Walmart fortune. Time to storm the Bastille yet?
Now Aetna & Central Co-op have something in common besides really liking the word “wellness"
The Seattle natural foods grocery and the corporate insurance giant both made big moves to reassess their operations and prioritize living wage jobs. Central Co-op announced it was raising up its own wage floor to $15/hour, effective immediately — seven years before the small employer would be required to reach that level under the Seattle minimum wage law. The store’s general manager explained that they made the move because "We want to inspire change—systematic change."
Aetna’s CEO struck a similar note, explaining on CNBC that the company was establishing a $16/hour minimum wage because “here we are a Fortune 50 company and we're about to put these people into poverty, and I just didn't think it was fair.” The move by Aetna is a compelling repudiation of the business case for low wages. It also marks a big step for the company itself: the first thing about it that might be more interesting than the fact that a majority of the letters in its name are vowels.
More than you can chew?
Landmark "priority hire" legislation passed Seattle City Council with fangs intact, ensuring that publicly-funded building projects will provide people in economically distressed communities with job opportunities. Longshore workers continue to fight tooth and nail in their contract negotiations with multinational port giants, shutting down Terminal 18 in a one-day walk out. The Seahawks escaped the jaws of defeat, advancing to the Super Bowl when #15 appropriately scored to win. And a videotape surfaced showing a snake wriggling free from the mouth of a bigger snake, after that snake in turn was killed by a pet cat. The appropriate metaphor escaped too. But it was biting.