It looks like employees of Whole Foods are learning a straightforward lesson:
In response to public pressure and increasing scrutiny over the pay of its warehouse workers, Amazon enacted a $15 minimum wage for all its employees on 1 November, including workers at grocery chain Whole Foods, which it purchased in 2017.
All Whole Foods employees paid less than $15 an hour saw their wages increase to at least that, while all other team members received a $1 an hour wage increase and team leaders received a $2 an hour increase.
But since the wage increase, Whole Food employees have told the Guardian that they have experienced widespread cuts that have reduced schedule shifts across many stores, often negating wage gains for employees.
The lesson is this: Money has to come from somewhere, and to believe it will inevitably come from the most powerful is delusional. Wages and business models are settled within a marketplace, and forcing one part of that marketplace to be more costly doesn’t increase its value to the company.
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A more social-justicy way to approach the same principle is to note that the problems that create inequity are structural. You can’t just dictate a change in the symptom to cure the disease. Progressives prefer a treatment involving consolidation of power in government, which can then be used to “level the playing field,” but this is subject to the same problem: The powerful begin with an edge.
The only structural change that will achieve fairness and more-equitable outcomes is to expand our freedom so nobody is free of competitive pressures.