In recent years, many jobs that were full time, paid well, and had benefits, have changed. Supermarket cashiers are a good example. Employers realized that they could hire part time people, pay no benefits, and not even promise a set number of hours. It also lets employers easily adjust staffing for quiet and busy times.
This is great for employers, not so good for workers. They may have to work two or more part time jobs; no benefits; no assured hours; no assured income.
Why don’t the workers go elsewhere? There may be no better job available.
Workers with special skills, such as Registered Nurses, are better off. They are generally offered full time positions with benefits. But additional staff are needed to cover illness, vacations, and varying staffing needs. So often Per Diem nurses are also hired. These nurses are not promised a certain number of hours, but they can work or not if called, and are paid more per hour than the full time nurses to make up for the lack of benefits.
This suggests a solution to the situation mentioned above. Suppose the minimum wage were $12.50 per hour. But the minimum wage for people working more than 10 hours per week, but less than full time were $15 per hour. That would give employers incentive to offer full time positions with set hours, and help compensate part time workers for the insecurity part-time work gives them.
The whole issue of how much we work, and how workers are treated, will be increasingly important and problematic in coming years as computers and robots take over the jobs that now employ millions of Americans. Telephone operators are gone, cashiers are disappearing, and self-drive vehicles already exist.
We certainly want to reward hard work and creativity.
But our current “Winner Take All” system is creating a few obscenely wealthy people, lots of low paying jobs, and fewer and fewer jobs in between. It is far beyond this Contract to fix all these issues, but it is a crucial step in the right direction toward addressing them.