Walmart, other big companies, increase minimum wage for its workers

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(CNN) — Even though leaders in Congress cannot agree on an increase in the federal minimum wage, big companies across America are hiking the wages of their workers. But is it enough?

Abi Weaver has worked as a waitress, at a call center, and she’s had her fair share of minimum wage jobs. It works for now, but it can’t be like this forever.

“Working at a minimum wage job, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to catch up,” she said.

The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, but in the last year, a number of companies, including Starbucks, Gap, Ikea, TJ Maxx, and the biggest them all, Walmart, have promised to pay more.

Walmart will now pay entry level workers $9/hour, and $10/hour in 2016.

Executive vice-president Dan Bartlett says more changes could be coming. “We’ve looked at scheduling, we’ve looked at paid sick leave, we’ve looked at all the different things that impact an associate’s life in our stores.”

Damon Silvers, a policy director for the AFL-CIO, is happy to see that, but he believes Walmart has a long way to go. “I mean, $9 an hour frankly is laughable in relation to the wealth and the power of the Waltons.”

He believes Walmart’s workers pushed the company to do more, “not because they woke up one morning and thought wouldn’t this be a great day to do something nice, but because they didn’t have a choice. That is really important and powerful.”

“Whether it be our compenation training, scheduling, paid sick leave,” said Bartlett, “all these things in totality is a commitment by this company to do what’s right for our associates.”

Weaver is hoping her future is way beyond minimum wage: she wants a full-time job, with benefits, that allows her to start a family.

“You need enough not just enough to sustain one person, and not just enough to sustain another person, but you’re raising children,” she said, “so that requires a huge amount of money.”

Her version of the American dream is one she hopes more companies will help workers like her achieve.

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