Thursday, February 19, 2015
Walmart leaves Hawaii’s minimum wage in the dust with increase to $9 this year, $10 in 2016
In a move that could alter the minimum wage debate and improve the image of the world's largest retailer, Walmart announced it will raise the baseline wage of its current store employees to $10 per hour, bringing pay hikes to an estimated 500,000 workers. The company said in an announcement on Thursday that it would raise its wage floor to $9 in April, followed by a second boost to $10 by next February.—Huffington Post
by Larry Geller
When your paycheck is less than Walmart workers receive, it must hurt. Hawaii minimum wage earners can start yelling “ouch” this April, when they are passed by Walmart workers who will be earning more nationwide (including right here in Hawaii).
It’s a sad day in Hawaii when workers who want better pay would be well advised to apply for a job at Walmart.
Hawaii’s Act 82 (2014 legislature) increased the state’s minimum wage to $7.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2015 and to $8.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2016. Walmart workers pay will increase to $9 per hour in April 2015, and then to $10 per hour in February, 2016.
Walmart has long been saddled with a reputation as a low-wage employer, and its battles with labor unions -- in particular the United Food and Commercial Workers union -- stretch back decades. In recent years, labor groups have organized high-profile worker strikes to coincide with the company's Black Friday shopping events, pillorying the retailer over its pay practices.
[Huffington Post, Walmart Gives 500,000 Workers A Raise, 2/19/2015]
Hawaii, with among the highest costs of living in the country, will not reach the $9 level until the minimum wage rises to $9.25 per hour in January 2017, and it won’t catch up with Walmart’s 2016 $10 rate until it hits $10.10 per hour starting in January, 2018. Act 82 also provides for a tip credit, reducing the minimum wage.
Even $15, touted by many advocates as a living wage, would not float families above the poverty level in Hawaii.
It’s a sad day for Hawaii when Walmart becomes a preferred employer in the state.