Today’s News & Commentary — April 29, 2015
A New York Times Magazine profile details a new app designed by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that targets the income volatility and anxiety faced by many Americans in the low-wage workforce. The company, called Even, developed an app to “smooth the irregular, up-and-down paychecks of hourly workers into the steady flow of a simulated salary. On good weeks, when users outearn their Even salary, the company banks the surplus into a separate, Even-managed savings account. On bad weeks, when users fall short, they still get their salary, thanks to past surpluses or to interest-free credit from Even.” While the app can’t help those without a bank account or at least some form of income, it hopes to ameliorate the unpredictability caused by flexible scheduling and stagnant wages, especially for workers covering multiple jobs to make ends meet. The article points out how rare it is for a Bay Area tech company to be focusing on problems faced primarily by low-earners.
Lydia DePillis reports in the Washington Post on a new poll finding that most Americans support the right of fast food workers to unionize. The poll shows that Americans’ opinions on labor unions in general have recovered from the dip during the Detroit auto bailout in 2008, with 48% of Americans now viewing unions favorably (compared with 39% unfavorably). It also found that 62% of Americans support the right of fast food workers to unionize—though that figure was lower than retail sales workers (68%), public school teachers (71%), and manufacturing workers (82%).
The living wage campaign is spreading to Capitol Hill, with a group of Senate Democrats calling on the Rules Committee to give preference to Senate office building contractors “that provide a living wage, fair healthcare and other benefits and that give employees a voice in their workplace.” According to the Washington Post, the letter comes over a year after President Obama raised the hourly minimum wage for federal contract employees to $10.10.