Jobs Equity Initiative

Plenty of profit for low wage employers! 

On September 1, 2013, the Wall Street Journal published this AP article on who should pay fast food workers a living wage.  Buried in the body of the article is this startling information that the big fast food companies make 16% PROFIT.  At the same time, we know taxpayers are subsidizing employee food stamps, health care, housing and more for those employers!

Last year, the five big publicly traded fast-food companies together earned 16 cents in profit for every dollar of revenue. That's 73 percent better than the average big U.S. company, according to FactSet research firm. And that compares with earnings of 4 cents for every dollar of revenue made by discount retailers Wal-Mart and Target, which also have come under fire for not paying workers enough.

McDonald's, the world's biggest burger chain, for example, reported a profit of $5.5 billion last year on $27.6 billion in sales. CEO Don Thompson got a pay package worth $13.8 million.

 Take a look at the whole article here.

In this August 30, 2013 article, The Audacity of the Fight for Higher Wages, New York Times columnist Jared Bernstein, points out that the banks and low wage employers are turning a nice profit.  Not so their workers.


Who are the low wage employers?

National Employment Law Project's key report Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage, lets us know.

66% of low wage workers work for big employers. Workers make at or near minimum wage with diminished purchasing power.   But 92% of these companies are profitable.  Average CEO pay? $9.4 million.

Read it here.


Low wage jobs are bad policy and a bad long term plan! 

There is a reason Angela Glover Blackwell, at PolicyLink, says that Equity is the Superior Growth Strategy.  Take a look at this recent Washington Post article that shows there is a profound hidden cost to poverty.  "Poverty consumes so much mental energy that people struggling to make ends meet often have little brainpower left for anything else, leaving them more susceptible to bad decisions that can perpetuate their situation, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science" starts this article.

Read it here:  Poverty strains cognitive abilities.


Dēmos documents the impact of federal public subsidies and tax dollars on the creation of low wage jobs.

“…many of the workers keeping our nation humming are paid low wages, earning barely enough to afford  essentials like food, health care, utilities and rent.  Through federal contracts and other funding, our tax dollars are fueling the low-wage economy and exacerbating inequality. Hundreds of billions of dollars in  federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. At the same time, many of these companies are providing their  executives with exorbitant compensation…”

Read it here: UNDERWRITING BAD JOBS: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-Wage Work and Fueling Inequality


Other background information

Action for Regional Equity’s first Jobs Equity Brief, Our Common Ground, One Dream: Turning bad jobs into good jobs for a better future for everyone” documents why it is time for all of us to be part of the movement to turn the many bad jobs into good jobs. (Download)

The mythologies of upward mobility and the efficacy of education and training have blinded Americans to the fact the 1% is stealing the results of their toil and labor—there is no longer a fair sharing of the return from work.  The increased poverty that results in turn creates its own negative impacts.  This is a political question, not an economic one. 

Along with “supply-side” strategies of education and workforce development, Action for Regional Equity believes we need “demand-side” strategies to change many of the million bad jobs in Massachusetts and many millions more across the country.   These jobs are now disproportionately held by people of color.  It is our entire neighborhoods that are harmed by bad jobs, and our neighborhoods that need to stand together to make these jobs better.  Targeting bad jobs is a first step to creating a new voice for a more just and equitable economic vision for the country.   (Download)

Everett and Roxbury taking action for good jobs.  Philip Bronder-Giroux, Tri-CAP, and Myosha Walker, Roxbury resident and GFCAC youth advocate, testify in front of the MassPort Board on the impact of bad airport jobs on their neighborhoods.

Philip Bronder-Giroux' Remarks to MassPort Board

Myosha Walker’s Testimony

How bad is the problem of bad jobs?  With about 1 million bad jobs in Massachusetts, we say “very bad.”


Paul Osterman in Good Jobs America documents the huge number of bad jobs—jobs with low wages, part-time hours, and no benefits.  As its ad on Amazon points out the book “dispels several myths about low-wage work and job quality. The book demonstrates that mobility out of the low-wage market is a chimera far too many adults remain trapped in poor-quality jobs. Osterman and Shulman show that while education and training are important, policies aimed at improving earnings equality are essential to lifting workers out of poverty.” 


Read more>>

The Center for Economic and Policy Research documents that based on a good job paying $37,000 a year,  in 2010, just 47.2% of the workforce was at or above this level.  Even more dramatic, only 40.5% of workers with a 4-year college degree or more had a good job.  More education is no guarantee!  Read more>>

Andy Sum at Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies hammers us with ongoing documentation of the problems in the labor market.  Look at the title of this March 2012 report: “There Are 920,339 Massachusetts Residents Who Face Severe Labor Underutilization Problems: The Pool of Unemployed, Underemployed, Hidden Unemployed and Mal-employed Vastly Exceeds Available Job Openings”.  Read more>>

UMass Boston’s Labor Resource Center documents the large number of bad jobs in the region. Read more>>

Bad jobs hurt the whole neighborhood!

More information coming soon.

Who is the low wage workforce…and why?

Whether a bracero program like in the past or refusing to move CIR or incarcerating a generation of Black boys and men, there are millions of people whose situation makes them vulnerable to pressure to work for less than it takes to live.

More information coming soon.

Key fights underway…new policy options, new ideas.

Both here and in other cities, people are taking on old problems in new ways.

Boston’s CORI ordinance must be enforced.   Read more from Boston Workers Alliance>>