Workers pressure employers to increase wages as holiday shopping season starts

"I'm not sure workers do truly have more leverage, but there is for sure a sense in the worker that they have more leverage."

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 10:28 PM
Updated: Nov 24, 2021 10:39 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - A worker was there to pick up the phone at Ragstock inside the Apache Mall Wednesday after employees said they were walking out.

Earlier this week, a sign taped to the clothing store's door read, "due to the fact that employees here at Ragstock are not appreciated and are over worked and underpaid this store will be closed until they can hire staff that is willing to work for them."

A similar message was seen at one of its neighbors, The Hot Topic, a few weeks ago, claiming nearly all staff had walked out because they weren't earning a living wage. Companies across the nation have increasingly experienced standoffs like these in recent months, and experts say multiple factors are leading employees to leave their jobs.

"Workers in the last few weeks to last couple of months have been a little bit more emboldened," says KIMT News 3 Political Analyst Rayce Hardy, an economics instructor at Riverland Community College.

Hardy believes a highly-visible strike at John Deere that secured concessions for workers, and a 1.2% drop in average hourly earnings when adjusted for inflation are two factors influencing employees to walk out.

"You put those two things together, a feeling that 'hey, maybe this is a time that I do I have a chance to push for higher wages,' with the math fact that 'after I adjust for inflation, I have less purchasing power as a worker,' this is a time that you're going to see that," Hardy said.

Frequent corporate stock buy-backs and lack of adjustment to minimum wage rates are also contributing to the tension, Hardy says, as well as pandemic concerns about safety.

"You've got a psychological situation where people are being attacked by customers, workers are, verbally and even physically, and then you've got the health side."

Asked whether the convergence of these factors has led workers to feel they have more leverage to negotiate higher wages, Hardy says "no doubt."

"I think in general workers feel they have more leverage." He continued, "now, I'm not sure workers do truly have more leverage, but there is for sure a sense in the worker that they have more leverage."

Hardy believes workers do have additional negotiating power in some respects right now, varying by industry and geography. However, based on history, he sees the extra leverage being short-lived.

"Our savings rate went way up during the pandemic, for two reasons. The first one was so many things were shut down, so people were doing far more things at home. The second reason was fiscal policy of the federal government, pumping money into people's bank accounts through stimulus checks. Well, as we see now, savings is going back down to where it usually is, it's approaching that gradually. And if I feel right now that I've built up some savings, that can take a couple months off to find another job, well, when that savings runs out, I'm going to have to go back, I'm going to have to go find a job."

Hardy adds more than half of all states have increased their minimum wage, and if they can do it, so can the federal government.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 912370

Reported Deaths: 9506
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1780492023
Ramsey736781043
Dakota67355574
Anoka63852570
Washington40349356
Stearns33475276
St. Louis29443403
Scott25842181
Wright25830216
Olmsted22258128
Sherburne18919126
Carver1661066
Clay12033104
Blue Earth1144868
Rice11410138
Crow Wing11170122
Chisago992378
Kandiyohi9800106
Otter Tail9758127
Benton9018125
Beltrami816094
Goodhue805597
Douglas7849100
Itasca769597
Mower731249
McLeod710983
Winona708657
Isanti697883
Steele682731
Morrison671579
Becker627174
Polk599484
Freeborn559646
Carlton543474
Mille Lacs529474
Lyon527261
Nobles524754
Nicollet521160
Pine512642
Cass500553
Todd490743
Brown469757
Le Sueur457733
Meeker431457
Martin385843
Wabasha373610
Waseca372332
Dodge359811
Hubbard354749
Roseau315531
Fillmore304315
Wadena301740
Redwood281245
Houston270717
Renville268051
Faribault257032
Pennington251030
Sibley251017
Kanabec248136
Cottonwood229232
Aitkin221550
Chippewa219442
Pope206710
Watonwan197420
Yellow Medicine187723
Rock177428
Koochiching176023
Swift172622
Stevens167011
Jackson160816
Clearwater157520
Marshall153122
Murray151811
Pipestone149529
Lake132224
Lac qui Parle122125
Wilkin120616
Mahnomen105914
Norman10489
Grant101110
Big Stone9465
Lincoln8745
Kittson73023
Red Lake71310
Unassigned629124
Traverse6056
Lake of the Woods5255
Cook3070

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 523052

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Unassigned66470
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
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