As a practical matter, of course this won’t happen. But as a sign of the times, a symbol of how desperate people are to get out from under the wet blanket of income disparity in America, it hits the Target. And the Wal-mart, and the McDonald’s.
A group of Chicago-area progressive groups and unions are backing a bill that would punish large companies who don’t pay their workers a living wage.
The Responsible Business Act (RBA) would charge corporations who employ more than 750 Chicago-area workers at less than $15 per hour fees for paying what advocates call poverty-level wages.
“The CEOs of these big corporations continue to make massive profits while the workers, who are responsible for the functioning of the corporations, are forced to rely on public services to survive off their poverty wages,” said Eugene Lim, a member of the group’s Workers’ Rights Team.
The Responsible Business Act would give corporations with over 750 employees a choice: either raise their employees’ wages to a living wage – determined by Cook County Chief Financial Officer Ivan Samstein at $14.57 per hour without benefits and $11.66 per hour with benefits – or pay a $750 fee for each dollar paid below the hourly living wage per employee.
For example, a corporation where 100 workers earn $13.57 per hour (one dollar below the living wage of $14.57 per hour) would have the choice of raising their hourly wage by $1 for each worker, or paying a fee of $75,000 ($1 times 100 workers, times the $750 fine). This fee is designed to supplement the housing and childcare assistance, Medicaid costs and other services out of reach for workers earning poverty wages. The fees would be earmarked specifically for public assistance programs and distributed by the county.
Seems fair to me. Because if the company won’t pay its workers, and they are forced on to public assistance, who pays then, taxpayers?