Labor Activists Beginning to Bundle Wage & Social Issues

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Labor Activists Beginning to Bundle Wage & Social Issues

By Don Longo, Convenience Store News - 09/14/2016

NATIONAL REPORT — Earlier this week, labor activists joined with an organization of national and progressive faith leaders called Moral Revival to hold a national “Higher Ground Moral Day of Action” at 30 state capitols across the country and in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the group was to deliver their “Higher Ground Moral Declaration” that calls on politicians at all levels “to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.”

In their declaration, the group called attention to many of the policies important to entry-level employers like minimum wage, paid leave, health care, and others.

These events are not new and have been happening under the radar for close to two years. However, this week's events were a big step forward in elevating the dialogue.

Business leaders might be tempted to dismiss this latest round of protests as failed media stunts that were sparsely attended and earned very little press coverage. But that would be a mistake, according to Convenience Store News government relations columnist Joe Kefauver, managing partner of Align Public Strategies, a full-service public affairs and creative firm that helps corporate brands, governments and nonprofits navigate the outside world and inform their internal decision-making.

“The leaders of this movement play chess, not checkers, and are always focused on the long term,” Kefauver told CSNews. “Remember, two or three years ago, we saw small protests like these regarding wages. Far left-of-center activists called for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Look how far they've come.

“The push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is the 50-yard line of the debate and wage stagnation is a front-burner issue in the presidential campaign. Again, chess, not checkers,” he continued.

Kefauver cautioned retailers and business leaders to pay attention to the slow, steady and intentional merging of the wage stagnation, pay equity, and racial and social justice issues.

“It is the reframing of these issues in a moral and social justice context and the emerging portrayal of entry-level employers as unjust and racially tone-deaf that should alarm business leaders,” he noted. “Employers need to figure out their next move.”