Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jesse Winter is the latest reporter to tell the stories of a few minimum-wage workers who will see a raise as a result of improved employment standards. And Erika Shaker points out that a substantial minimum-wage increase is a long-overdue response to outdated statutory standards and stagnant wage levels, not a meaningful imposition on employers:
(W)hat’s truly surprising is that so many businesses didn’t seem to see it coming, even after a two-year $15 minimum wage campaign in Ontario. After all, increases have been studied, debated and implemented in several American states, Britain, and Australia (to name a few), not to mention Alberta. All this strikes me as something that might be considered “market research” or simply “planning ahead” for a business concerned with its bottom line.

So while this is certainly a significant change, Ontario businesses had time to rethink their decision to pursue a low-wage business plan in the broader socio-economic and political context (the Changing Workplaces Review was initiated back in February 2015 “to consider issues brought about in part by the growth of precarious employment”), seven months to adjust to being compliant with the legislation (if the mere desire to treat their workers well wasn’t strong enough), and another year before $15/hr kicks in.
The increase to the minimum wage shouldn’t be seen as a shock, but rather a long-fought-for correction…which suggests that those businesses arguing loudest had perhaps become too comfortable counting on an outdated business model whose profit margins depended on low-wage employees. The much-publicized decision by a few (“rogue”, according to Head Office) Tim Hortons franchises to find ways to gouge their workers betrays a somewhat Dickensian nostalgia for a time when the highest costs of doing business were borne by the worker — not the cutting-edge, forward-looking business acumen that we’re often told tax breaks will encourage.
- Lydia Dobson criticizes Ontario employers whose reaction to an improved minimum wage is to steal employees' tips. And Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer document the billions of dollars workers stand to lose from Donald Trump's plan to let U.S. employers do exactly that.

- Matt Bruenig points out the problems with fetishizing small businesses, rather than focusing on the importance of workers' protections and needs regardless of the size of their employer.

- The Star's editorial board argues that Google and Facebook should be required to pay a fair share of taxes proportional to the corporate revenue they accumulate from their Canadian operations.

- And finally, Mary Papenfuss reports on the Koch family's six-figure payout to Paul Ryan (and other donations which represent a small portion of the Republicans' tax giveaway) as a prime example of the corruption inherent in politics dominated by big money.

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