Paying a living wage? Madness!

Even before the 2008 economic depression food banks were slowly becoming a regretable necessity in many socalled wealthy countries for increasing numbers of people, but this is I think the first time a company opens a food charity for its own employees:

Employees of UPMC can no longer say that their employer hasn’t been listening to their concerns and addressing their needs.

Since non-medical employees began seeking unionization earlier this year from SEIU, they have been telling the public about the low wages paid by the healthcare giant and how it affects their ability to make ends meet. Many employees, like Leslie Poston, have told the public how they’ve had to go to food banks to make sure they have enough food for their families. Others have said they have to go on public assistance.

But fear not, good workers: UPMC Cares, and they’ve come up with a solution. In fact, since Poston was one of the first workers to tell such tales, UPMC brass decided to alert her to the news first.

“It was two days before Thanksgiving and my unit director came up, put an arm around me and said ‘we’ve been hearing what you’ve been saying,’” Poston told City Paper earlier today. “She pulled out a flyer and said, ‘We’re starting a food bank for the employees.’”

“I turned my head and started to cry because I was so angry, although she thought I was crying because of the gesture. They just don’t get that I’d rather they pay me a better wage so I wouldn’t have to go to a food bank.”

More and more low wage workers are actually earning too little and are therefore dependent on either government assistance or food banks, but it’s rare that this is shown as blatantly as at UPMC. It’s an extreme example of a worrying trend, with increasing groups of people in work actually needing support to pay for their daily amenities in all wealthy countries. It’s also a hidden subsidy from the tax payer to employers too cheap to pay their workers a living wage. Not to mention those cases in which working people actually to depend on the charity of the rest of us to get by.

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