Today’s News & Commentary — August 13, 2015
On Tuesday, Amnesty International called for the decriminalization of the global sex trade. Politico explains that Amnesty delegates voted to recommend a new policy “opposed to criminal penalties for prostitution, payment for sex, and owning a brothel,” and passed a resolution authorizing the International Board to develop a policy on the issue.
The White House announced that it will hold a “Worker Voice” summit on October 7, the Wall Street Journal reports. The goal of the summit is to tackle income inequality and “to energize a new generation of Americans to come together and recognize the potential power of their voice at work.” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez wrote in a blog post that the summit will “highlight the value of collective bargaining,” and he cited Labor Department statistics showing that last year, union members earned, on average, $200 more a week than did non-union workers. According to Mr. Perez’s blog post, the meeting will include not only workers, unions, and organizers, but also employers, workplace experts, and others.
At the Washington Post, Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley explain how, until now, minimum wage increases have not led to an expanded middle class. A $15 minimum wage might prove different. DePillis and Tankersley explore the “ripple effect,” wherein “employers respond to a minimum-wage hike by raising wages for more experienced employees, too, in order to keep them ahead of their entry-level colleagues.” In theory, the ripple effect can cause more workers to move from the lower class to the middle class. In reality, research shows that this has not occurred. However, because the recent minimum wage hikes are more aggressive than their predecessors, it is possible that they could lead to a stronger ripple effect. Only time will tell.
In the world of jobs, Kraft Heinz announced that it will cut 2,500 jobs in the United States and Canada, including about 700 at its headquarters in Northfield, Illinois. The New York Times explains that Heinz merged with Kraft in March, and the combined Kraft Heinz has stated that it anticipates saving about $1.5 billion in annual costs by the close of 2017. Heinz is backed by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, which has a history of cutting jobs: after Berkshire Hathaway and 3G bough Heinz in 2013, 3G eliminated 7,000 jobs over an 18-month period and shut down six factories.