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7 Ultra-Rich Companies Rake in Profits While Paying Workers Peanuts

Most low-wage jobs are at giant, profitable corporations. Here are some of the worst offenders.

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The money's actually going to the Opportunity Finance Network, essentially a microlending consortium that funds small businesses. As Keith Spencer at Dissent noted, the irony is stunning—Starbucks, known for putting small businesses out of business when it rolls into a neighborhood, wants to help small businesses get loans?

And of course, if Starbucks wants to help with the US economy, perhaps it could start by paying its workers more. Its average pay for a barista is about $8.74 an hour, which comes out to about $18,111 a year. In 2006, Starbucks settled with the National Labor Relations Board after attempting to bust a union forming in its New York stores.

Erik Forman, a Starbucks employee and union activist fired and then reinstated after an NLRB complaint, told Josh Eidelson at In These Times, "You’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to make all these drinks, because the stores are understaffed. So you go home at the end of the day exhausted, and you still can’t pay your bills.”

Starbucks' chief executive, Howard Schultz, meanwhile, made $65 million in 2011 in salary, stock options and bonuses. His “retention bonus” alone was $12 million. According to the company's own records, it had a record year in 2011, with revenues of $11.7 billion.

It doesn't seem like Starbucks needs to convince customers to donate money to create jobs. Instead, it could use some of those record profits to make the jobs it's already created into good jobs. Maybe then its employees could afford some of that expensive coffee.

Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @sarahljaffe.

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