Their labor is worth what they agree it's worth. Everybody wants more, especially when they have more years of experience.
Bargaining power. Employers have it, and for the most part individual employees don't. That's why we have things like unions and collective bargaining, which for all their problems are still far better than the alternative.
Who's responsibility is it to determine what a job is worth?
Don't try to dismiss this issue with pithy statements. Trying to act as if the employee carries the ultimate responsibility for the terms of their employment is short-sighted at best
. Employers are the ones who determine what a job is worth to them, and for the most part employees get to take it or leave it, unless they're independently wealthy or something and can afford to take the time to find a good job. Income is not wealth.
According to the chart provided by MadBunny it's a lot more than just WalMart and McDonald's workers who aren't able to keep up with inflation. Nobody is forcing people to work for Walmart or McDonalds. Nobody is forcing people to buy products from Walmart or McDonalds
When you don't have income, and nobody to help support you, if you can get a job and thus income from Wal-Mart or McDonalds, you're not to argue about how much you're paid because even minimum wage with no benefits is better than no income. That's what companies like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and most of the major service sector businesses count on - people who need income, even crappy income, and thus will take what they're offered without arguing or negotiating. That's what allows them to get away with selling things so inexpensively and thus allows them to stay in business - because they can avoid having to pay their workers anything resembling a reasonable wage. In point of fact, businesses ultimately hurt themselves by this kind of conduct. When you offer rock-bottom wages, you get rock-bottom employees for the most part.
1. We should never force anyone to do anything against their will.
Indeed not. But it sure is easy to take advantage of someone's helplessness to get them to agree to something whether they like it or not. That's using force against them just as surely as if you were holding a gun to their heads or had a knife to their necks. You're using the fact that you have leverage and they don't to try to force them to accept your terms. You may not actually be holding a gun or a knife, but you're perfectly willing to take advantage of their poor circumstances to get the best possible deal for yourself.