In week one we discussed the merits of a strong minimum wage for organized labor. Now let’s focus on the responsibility of companies to workers. To what extent is a company obligated to pay a wage that guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness for the individual and his or her family? Is a living wage a better measure of minimum wage? Should unions be seeking a living wage through their employers or through Washington and state capitals? How would you define a living wage?
Union?s were tremendously successful in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because many manufacturing workers were low-skilled and spent most if not all of their working lives in a single manufacturing plant and with the same company. Today, the American economy is far more knowledge-based. Think about what compensation strategy would prove more effective today: the incentive-based, more knowledgeable worker, or the lower wage-base with more self-service? Based on what approach you choose, how would organized labor be affected? Is a knowledge-based economy yet another reason why unions continue to witness reduced membership in the United States?