Thursday, November 29, 2012
We wrote this week about a local Subway worker, Kayla Fisher (right), who alleges she was bullied and then unfairly fired.
But that isn't the only media coverage this week over the plight of low-wage service sector jobs. A furor began just before Thanksgiving as workers protested Wal-Mart's decision to open that night, forcing their employees to potentially lose out on family time.
There's since been more. The New York Times today wrote about how fast food workers are trying to unionize. The Atlantic urged fast food companies to pay better wages. And on Monday, a Slate writer took Wal-Mart to task for not paying as well as Costco. (Here's a counterpoint to that argument.)
These gigs, from fast food joints to big box retail stores, became a larger share of the economy as America moved away from actually making products like textiles and machinery in factories, which were often good-paying jobs.
This isn't a vague "national" issue. In February, we reported how Spokane had lost over 25 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2011, and that the biggest job growth in that time was among the lowest-paying jobs.
It's striking the stories media doesn't tell, especially when it comes to work and the economy. It took Occupy Wall Street to focus a media narrative on the record state of income inequality in America, though that wasn't exactly a sudden phenomenon. As a society, we probably should have been talking all along about what would replace stable, middle-class union jobs. But we haven't.
Will this Thanksgiving mark the point where we finally decided to have this discussion?