Sunday, June 29, 2014

Living wage

My dad has always paid a living wage at his small business. In fact, he starts everyone out at roughly $15 an hour, with zero experience. And they get raised up fast. Most of his employees make around $20.00-$22.00 an hour. Pretty much matches the starting wage of my field. Is my work more important?  Hell no. Everyone's work is important.

Always working.
Many people have called him overly generous for paying that much. Some even call that act stupid, or a bad business move. He has only taken from that company what he needs. And not one cent more. Ever. He lives in a decent house on White Bear Lake, not the fanciest or most modern, but nice. We grew up comfortable. He rarely takes trips anymore. He has a really nice truck. But nothing outrageous. He has made (and been robbed of,  including by me) more money than I'll say. But he bounces back, and keeps the business going for his employees. 

So to hear that the big businesses like IKEA and others are going to start raising their minimum wages is great, although they still aren't living wages. 

In my dad's situation, the problem with paying workers a living wage, who are in a field that normally doesn't get a living wage, is that they get used to a standard of living which isn't at extreme poverty level, and the way it should be. So my 73 year old father feels as though he can't retire, because what will happen to his guys?  How will they support their families when wages are so low everywhere else?  His has a unique business that offers knowledge in unique skills. Not transferable to anywhere which will come even close to the same pay scale. 

So he has been trapped with a decision to keep going so these families can keep going, or close up shop and say, "good luck."  He wants to find them work first.  

He will also tell you that he's working because he doesn't want to quit.  Which is total bullshit.  He doesn't know HOW to quit, because he can't leave people hanging.  

So for personal reasons, (I'd be glad anyhow) I'm thrilled to see greedy companies raising their pay for their employees, even though it isn't enough.  My dad needs to retire and enjoy life for what he has left. Maybe if more places do this, he will be able to rest easy knowing there are places out there who offer better pay. And his guys will make it without him. 

There are some hardcore codependency issues my old man has. And he has relationship issues with family members that would shock the shit out of you. But there is this side of him that sets an example of being a business man, who cares more about his employees than he does the years he has left. That is admirable to me. And very sad. 

I just want him to retire and have fun. I don't want him to go from bending over a table, welding a handrail together, to a wheelchair. I'll push him around all day if he'll let me. But I want him to have some years with good quality of life. He deserves it.

This HAS to be his last summer working.  My codependency can't handle it another year.  

And so that is my personal reason why raising wages is important. Because we've been doing it for years. 


  1. Your dad sounds like a great caring generous man!

  2. Very generous guy your dad and he clearly has a morale compass higher than many in power.

    The UK minimum wage is terrible, as is the USA I guess and then they wonder why so many people live in poverty....

  3. Your dad sounds like a great guy, was just wondering if he could maybe hand the business down to a family member so he gets to retire or get a manager to take care of the place while he goes and does retiree stuff lol... well I seriously think minimum wage should go up because its definitely not a living wage. We just got a raise here in Canada from 10.25$ to 11$ an hour but its still not enough. specially if you have a child. The more money a business has the greedier and cheaper they are, its sad really because they are the ones who could really make a difference!