Good retail jobs would be good for America

Monday, February 4, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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The Powers That Be say that the bulk of America's middle-class manufacturing jobs are gone and won't be coming back. High tech jobs are being outsourced, too, as are accountants, lawyers, and some other professional positions. So, where does that leave us? Grasping at straws, the most abundant of which are retail jobs.

But wait, those aren't jobs, they're "jobettes" – part-time, poverty pay, no benefits, lousy schedules, little training, and no advancement opportunity. Most big retail chains treat their employees as nothing but a drain on profits, not an asset to invest in. Sales people are typically paid only $10 an hour, clerks get only $9.70, and cashiers just $9 – worse, 94 percent of retailers define full-time work as only 30 hours a week. People can't make ends meet on that, and America can't have a healthy economy without a solid middle class – yet 15 million people are in retail work now, and it's to be our second biggest source of new jobs for the next decade.

Well, shrug the Powers That Be, the retail giants must compete on low prices, so they have no choice but to keep cutting corners on their workforce.

As we say in Texas: Bovine excrement!

Look at Trader Joe's (where full-time jobs start at $40,000), or at Costco (where employee retainment is a priority and 98 percent of managers are promoted from within). Low-price chains that invest directly in workers are reaping industry highs in performance, morale, customer satisfaction, and profits. Bad jobs are not a retail necessity – just a corporate choice.

This week, a Retail Justice Alliance has been launched to push America's employers and policymakers to turn retail jobs into good jobs that spread a middle-class standard of living and rebuild our grassroots economy. To learn more and join in, go to www.retailjusticealliance.org.

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