When a Costco employee shared her hourly wages on TikTok, the internet was quick to form an opinion. Some people believed she was making too much. Others were happy a major corporation like Costco would pay its employees so well.
The seemingly harmless video shines a light on an issue that’s permeated the American labor force for centuries: wage discrepancy.
The now-viral TikTok is leaving many users asking who deserves high wages, and most importantly, who doesn’t?
Does Costco Pay Too Much?
“And it’s union… gotta love Costco,” Natalie wrote in her TikTok video’s caption. The video featured Natalie and a coworker dancing to music in Costco. During the video, Natalie claims to make $29.50 “just to draw smiley faces on receipts.”
According to NPR, the average national minimum wage is $11.80 as of May 2019. However, Natalie appears to live in California, where the living wage for a single adult is $18.66/hour.
“Overpaid, underskilled,” wrote one unhappy TikTok user. Another user who works in the medical field added, “I’m out here saving lives. You’re putting smiley faces on paper. And we make the same pay… make it make sense.”
Still, others were supportive of Costco’s hourly wages. “I love Costco for this reason,” one user wrote. “Also, it shows that people pay their employees well. They all seem happy to work and super friendly.”
“People mad about her making $29/hr are the same people who think they deserve $200k a year,” another user added.
Who’s To Blame?
Most users upset with Natalie felt a Costco employee shouldn’t earn as much or more than workers in other fields like health care, education, and tech. But is a wholesale store employee at fault for a national shortage in fair wages?
According to one Tiktok user–no, they’re not. “This happens so often,” the user said. “People in certain fields feel they should be making way more than people working ‘easier’ jobs like retail or food service or whatever.”
“If you think it’s unfair that you and this person make the same pay,” they continue, “maybe you should be upset with your employer instead of another working-class person.”
Better Pay For Everyone–Retail Workers Included
In a follow-up video, TikTok user @mothsfield expanded on this argument. “The central point to this argument is that everyone deserves to get paid more,” they begin. “The point isn’t that those people are stupid for complaining. They’re aiming in the wrong direction.”
“When you punch down at retail and service workers, you further the agenda that the upper classes want to push, which is they are not responsible for your suffering–other people in your position or similar positions are.”
“The minute that people realize we shouldn’t blame each other, we should blame our bosses, owners, CEOs, insurance adjusters—they’re going to be in really big trouble,” they continue. “Until then, people are just going to keep punching sideways.”
The majority of Americans are working, lower, or lower middle class. Indeed, American workers can find the most commonality along class lines.
And on the off-chance those workers do make good money, we shouldn’t resent them for it. Rather, we should celebrate it, support them, and continue fighting for better wages ourselves.
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