The growing effort toward raising the minimum wage in the United States to $15 an hour — which has already happened in several locations — is leading to an examination of labor laws that date back nearly a century, according to a Christian Science Monitor article. Drawing upon the social contract established by those labor laws, Clark University’s Gary N. Chaison, professor of industrial relations, was quoted in that article.
Here, an excerpt:
” ‘Lawsuits like (New York’s Attorney General Eric) Schneiderman’s (against Domino’s parent company) are likewise arguing, we have to go back to “first principles,” ‘ says Professor Jennifer Gordon, a professor at Fordham Law School. ‘Let’s look at what we meant by an “employer,” and who should be liable for the laws that we passed in the 1930s.’
“The restaurant industry employs about 14.4 million people — or 10 percent of the overall U.S. workforce — generating nearly $800 billion in sales every year, according to the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C.
“These are mostly small businesses, with jobs that used to be considered entry-level employment for teens and others. But the average age of workers in the fast-food industry is now 29, and more than a quarter of them, like Juarez, are parents raising children, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.
” ‘Over the last few years … there’s been a definite diminishment of the social contract at work,’ says Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University’s Graduate School of Management in Worcester, Mass.”