(CBS News) — Southwest Airlines plans to raise minimum pay to $15 an hour for about 7,000 employees, citing the need to attract and keep workers as the airline industry continues to recover from the pandemic.
“Southwest continually works to attract and retain the best candidates for open positions,” said spokesman Brad Hawkins. “As part of this ongoing effort, Southwest is increasing minimum pay rates so that all hourly employees will make at least $15 per hour.”
Southwest’s announcement comes as air travel picks up at the beginning of the summer vacation season after the pandemic turned last year’s peak season into a disaster. The number of people going through security checkpoints at U.S. airports has topped 2 million seven times in the past two weeks, hitting levels not seen since early March 2020.
However, domestic travel this month is still running 27% below June 2019, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration.
Other large companies have recently lifted their wages as employers compete to hire workers. Chipotle Mexican Grill in May hiked its average hourly pay to $15 for its 100,000 workers in 2,800 restaurants.
Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum. The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 an hour for more than a decade, but some large employers also have raised their pay in recent years amid the Fight for $15 campaign that began with protests by fast-food workers in 2012. wages
Is raising minimum pay to $15 an hour for about 7,000 employees the way to keep and attract workers? What about the workers that are currently making less than $15 an hour, are these employees going to get a raise to the new minimum or a raise that equals the same percentage above the minimum wage that they are already making? What about those employees that currently make more than the new minimum wage are they getting a raise too?
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