Posts Tagged ‘Minimum Wage’
Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
On January 20, 2015, President Obama laid out what I think are three things that can make a difference in the lives of low income and middle class workers.
1. Child Care
There is a need now more than ever for affordable child care, especially since in many homes both parents are in the workforce. Child care is often viewed as an issue specific to women, and it is often the woman who has to choose between a pay check or caring for their sick child. President Obama called for us to stop treating this as a woman’s issue but to see it one that affects us all. President Obama proposed for more available and affordable child care. Additionally he proposed a tax cut of up to $3,000 to families for each child in child care.
Please visit http://www.workplacefairness.org/family-responsibilities-discrimination for more information.
2. Sick Leave
The United States, unlike Germany, France, Sweden and at least 145 other countries, does not guarantee paid sick leave or maternity leave to workers. President Obama proposed that we being to work with states to assist them in adopting paid leave laws, but also that we work toward creating a bill.
Please visit http://www.workplacefairness.org/sickleave for more information.
President Obama urged for a commitment to an economy that generates rising income and provides a chance to everyone who makes an effort. Congress has yet to pass law that provides women the equal pay to men. President Obama stated that “It is time,” especially since it is 2015. Additionally, President Obama is seeking to raise the minimum wage, and challenged congressional members who were against it to live on an income of $15,000. Please visit http://www.workplacefairness.org/minimumwage for more information.
Finally, on a side note President Obama seeks to make community college $0. The benefits this will add for those in the workplace are numerous. Not only will workers be able to upgrade their skills but it will also give them the tools they need to participate in this growing economy. If we being to educate and encourage our workforce through, free education, higher pay, and affordable child care I believe we will see more growth than ever in our economy.
About the Author Olivia Nedd is a legal intern for Workplace Fairness and a student at Howard University School of Law.
Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Here’s California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock explaining why he wants to keep the minimum wage at a poverty level out of compassion and concern for workers:
“Only [raise the minimum wage] if you want to rip the first rung in the ladder of opportunity for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.The minimum wage doesn’t support a family. We all know that. It’s not supposed to support a family. The minimum wage is that first job when you have no skills, no experience, no working history. That’s how you get into the job market, that’s how you develop that experience, develop that work record, get your first raise, then your next raise, then your promotion. That’s the first rung of opportunity.
If your labor as an unskilled person just entering the workforce is worth say $7 an hour at a job and the minimum wage is $10, you have just been made permanently unemployable. That first rung of the economic ladder has been ripped out and you can’t get on it. That is a tragedy.”
It’s mostly the same old Republican blah-blah-blah pretending that the workers making minimum wage and just above (but who would still get a raise if the minimum wage went up) are teenagers ascending some glorious ladder of opportunity. In reality, most industries that pay the minimum wage have one really, really wide rung of that ladder for people making the minimum wage, and incredibly narrow rungs at the “supporting a family” levels, and a lot of people with kids and families are stuck on that wide bottom rung that McClintock admits won’t support a family.
But there’s one fascinating difference in what McClintock said: “for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.” You know, people who make the minimum wage—minorities and teenagers. People whose “labor as an unskilled person just entering the workforce is worth say $7 an hour at a job.” Seriously, he just swept “minorities” into the hopper with teenagers and people who’ve never had a job as people who cannot possibly expect to be paid enough to raise a family and would be rendered “permanently unemployable” if for some insane reason the government were to require companies to pay them family-supporting money. He just … kinda casually tossed that one in, like it wasn’t worth a second thought, any more than the reality that most minimum wage workers are not teenagers was worth a second thought. It’s stunning.
This article originally appeared in dailykos.com on January 22, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011
Monday, January 19th, 2015
On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) unveiled several new proposals, including a call to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour in the city and $10.50 an hour for workers in the rest of the state.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘Get a job,’?” Cuomo said during a press conference in Manhattan. “You need to get a job, which means you need to have the training and the skills to get the job, which means the job has to exist, and when you get the job, it means the job has to pay enough so you can pay for rent and you can pay for food and it is a sustainable wage.”
The minimum wage in New York is currently $8.75 an hour, boosted from $7.25 in 2013, and is set to reach $9 an hour by 2016. Cuomo, noting that “the wage gap has continued to increase,” proposed that the $10.50 and $11.50 minimum wages go into effect at the end of 2016.
Some say that still isn’t enough to support a family in the state, however. “Eleven-fifty is almost $2 less than what he endorsed last spring,” Bill Lipton, director of the New York State Working Families Party, told the New York Times. “And the truth is it’s nearly impossible to raise a family in this state on even $12 or $13 an hour.”
Business Council CEO Heather Briccetti voiced a common argument in opposition to raising the minimum wage, saying “the end result will be fewer jobs created and potential job losses that will adversely impact both small businesses and entry-level workers.”
The big hurdle for Cuomo’s proposal will be winning the approval of the state legislature, namely the Republican-controlled state Senate. Cuomo told reporters on Sunday, however, that he believes the strength of the market makes the current conditions more favorable for reaching a deal than in the past.
States are increasingly raising their own wages ahead of the federal government. Fourteen states approved a minimum wage hike last year alone, including four ballot initiatives that won the approval of voters in November — even those in deep red states. With those votes, 26 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages than is stipulated by federal law.
Contrary to fears, the 13 states that raised the minimum wage at the beginning of 2014 saw higher employment growth through the first half of the year than those that kept theirs the same.
The federal minimum wage currently sits at $7.25. Democrats in Congress have introduced several bills that would raise that to $10.10, but the measures have been blocked by Republicans.
Not only has it been estimated that a $10.10 minimum wage could lift approximately 4.6 million people out of poverty immediately; there are several other short and long-term benefits, including a significant reduction in government spending on public programs. A report released in December by the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would give those workers enough of an income boost that they could be less reliant on public programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) — ultimately cutting government spending on those programs by $7.6 billion a year.
This blog appeared on thinkprogress.org on January 19, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Kiley Kroh is Co-Editor of Climate Progress. Prior to joining Think Progress, she worked on the Energy policy team at the Center for American Progress as the Associate Director for Ocean Communications. Previous employment includes serving as a media consultant and strategic adviser to Democratic candidates and committees at the federal, state, and municipal levels, working as a member of the executive production team for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and serving as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine from 2005 to 2007. Kiley is a Colorado native and graduate of Regis University in Denver.
Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Advocates for workers have declared today “Minimum Wage Day,” as the 10th day of the 10th month calls attention to the demand for an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from the current $7.25.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi marked the day by calling on Congress to drop its campaigning and come back to Washington to vote on a minimum wage increase, as well as an authorization for combat operations against the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
The Hill reported:
“The American people deserve an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” Pelosi said Friday during a press call. “So urgent is this that I think we should come back [to Washington] before the elections.”
That is unlikely to happen, given that the Republican leadership in both houses of Congress have actually gone out of their way to block consideration of a minimum wage increase. But in this case there is a difference between a demand being unrealistic and being unreasonable.
There is real urgency to the need for low-income workers to see an increase in their wages. The federal wage has not increased since 2009, when the latest in a series of increases that started in 2007 took effect. Since then, to quote a group of former lawmakers who wrote a joint op-ed in USA Today, “Groceries cost 20% more, a gallon of gas costs 25%more, and average tuition at a community college increased 44%. But the minimum wage remains at $7.25. If it had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be almost $10.70 today.”
Who were these lawmakers, by the way? Four Republican former members of Congress: Jack Quinn, Mike Castle, Steve LaTourette and Connie Morella. But these Republicans aren’t cut from the conservative extremist cloth that has now blinded their party’s leadership. They get, as do most of the American public, that you don’t grow an economy by holding down wages, by keeping people who are the backbone of our economy in a state of chronic subsistence and struggle.
Yet on the same day that many Democrats and moderate Republicans are calling on lawmakers to act on increasing the minimum wage comes news that one of the heroes of the tea-party Republicanism, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, sees no problem in holding workers down to $7.25 an hour.
According to The Huffington Post, 100 of the state’s workers filed a complaint with the state Department of Workforce Development last month saying that the wages they received in their jobs – at or just above the federal $7.25 minimum – are in violation of the state’s living wage law, which requires wages “be adequate to permit any employee to maintain herself or himself in minimum comfort, decency, physical and moral well-being.”
The state’s response? “The Department has determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the wages paid to the complainants are not a living wage.”
No reason to believe, they say, despite the experience of 700,000 workers who, according to a report done in conjunction with the Economic Policy Institute, earn “poverty wages” in Wisconsin. A “poverty wage” in Wisconsin is $11.36 an hour, according to the report – the point below which a full-time worker cannot keep a family of four above the poverty line. The median age of a worker working poverty wages is 30, and 60 percent of the people in this group are women.
Walker and the federal lawmakers who hew to his right-wing ideology are willing to go all out to protect the profit margins of big corporations and the über-wealthy, but feel no urgency to address the wage stagnation and real suffering of working people.
But for millions of us next month’s rent will come due in about three weeks, and the utility bills and perhaps a car payment, student loan bill or a health insurance premium on top of that. Those bills won’t wait. Neither will election day, when members of Congress should be held to account for not acting with urgency toward – and in fact getting in the way of – an increase in the minimum wage.
This blog originally appeared in ourfuture.org on October 10, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://ourfuture.org/20141010/pelosi-is-right-we-shouldnt-have-to-wait-for-a-minimum-wage-increase
About the Author: Isaiah J. Poole has been the editor of OurFuture.org since 2007. Previously he worked for 25 years in mainstream media, most recently at Congressional Quarterly, where he covered congressional leadership and tracked major bills through Congress. Most of his journalism experience has been in Washington as both a reporter and an editor on topics ranging from presidential politics to pop culture. His work has put him at the front lines of ideological battles between progressives and conservatives. He also served as a founding member of the Washington Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
Friday, September 12th, 2014
The Heritage Foundation released a new Issue Brief this week: “Higher Fast-Food Wages: Higher Fast Food Prices”. Author James Sherk claims that if the minimum wage in the fast-food industry were to increase to $15 an hour, “the average fast-food restaurant would have to raise prices by nearly two-fifths … caus[ing] sales to drop by more than one-third, and profits to fall by more than three-quarters.”
While the Heritage Foundation attempts to present a mathematically and logically correct depiction of the aftermath of a minimum-wage increase, they fail to acknowledge one fundamentally important fact: the increase will be gradual, occurring over a period of years. Even without considering the report’s many other flaws, the Heritage Foundation’s assumption of a sudden jump in the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15 is unrealistic.
As Vanessa Wong highlights in “This is What Would Happen if Fast-Food Workers Got Raises”, there are two distinct types of outlets: “those run by the company, and those operated by independent franchisees who set their own wages and pay royalties to the chain.” Thus, Heritage Foundation hastily categorized all fast-food restaurants as one, not even considering the elephant in the room: the corporations such as McDonald’s that charge each branch high franchising fees.
So, how much are these small franchisees paying the mother-ship corporations? According to Robert E. Bond’s “How Much Can I Make?” the franchise fee, royalties, and advertising for a typical McDonald’s is $45,000, +12.5%, and 4%. For a doughnut shop like Dunkin’ Donuts, the fees are even higher, with a franchise fee of $50,000.
If Heritage’s figures are correct, these fast-food restaurants have a profit margin of just 3 percent before taxes, which “works out to approximately $27,000 a year.” Thus, the franchise fee and royalties are way too high — those profits go directly to, in this case, McDonald’s, which operates at a profit margin of 19.31% as of June 30, 2014.
McDonald’s and other large fast-food companies have successfully shrugged off responsibility for the welfare of its workers by making the franchisees responsible. The low-wage jobs — and the cost of these salaries — are offloaded on the franchisees, while the corporations maintain their guaranteed profits, and relative profit margins from quarter to quarter.
Raising the minimum wage — even if only to $10.10, not to the living wage level of $15 an hour — is an economic imperative. Heritage believes that fast-food restaurants still offer “entry level jobs,” and “generally employ younger and less-experienced workers”.
Fast-food restaurants used to be a place for “entry level employees” — teens and young adults, sometimes still in school, newly entering the workforce. The recession drastically changed the dynamic. Today, at fast-food restaurants, we see the faces of older workers on the other side of the counter. Many are parents who rely on their full-time fast-food jobs to support themselves and their families. Instead of providing a “first work experience”, fast-food jobs are now a primary source of income for older, experienced workers.
The problem, once again, is corporations. Individual fast-food restaurants should not be the only battlefront in the fight for livable wages. We should demand that the mother-ship fast-food corporations let go of their greed, and lower their franchise fees and annual royalties.
The Heritage Foundation points its finger in the wrong direction: the responsibility for providing minimum wage fast-food workers with a livable wage falls on the corporations.
This article originally appeared in Campaign for America’s Future on September 10, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://ourfuture.org/20140910/debunking-the-heritage-foundations-new-minimum-wage-myths-one-by-one.
About the author: Jiao (Kitty) Lan is a Roosevelt Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future. She is a sophomore at Georgetown University, majoring in Political Economy and Financial Engineering and has taken an interest in Computer Science in her first two semesters. She has had several political internships, including one with Rep. Mike Honda and one with Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Her top three anything are Pops cereal, her two tiny yet vivacious Pomeranians, and traveling the world.
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
A $15 minimum wage for Seattle has been in the works for a while, and now the City Council has made it official:
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here — in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business — the highest big-city minimum in the nation.“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”
Even socialist Council member Kshama Sawant voted for the increase despite having pushed to eliminate some exceptions and speed the path to $15; under the plan that passed Monday, $15 an hour won’t be fully phased in until 2021, though workers at large employers that don’t provide health coverage will get there by 2017. A strong majority of Seattle voters support the raise.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on June 3, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Chances are looking good that Arkansas voters will have the chance to vote on a minimum wage increase come November, Greg Sargent reports:
Dems organizing the initiative tell me they have now amassed at least 10,000 more signatures than the approximately 62,000 required — which, if true, suggests they have a shot at getting them certified, though this is far from a done deal.“We’re in the 72,000 range, and we still have some volunteer efforts going on in the state, so we’re going to add more on top of that,” Robert McLarty, petition director for the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, a lead group organizing the effort, tells me. “There could be a challenge from somebody, but we are confident we will get this on the ballot.”
The increase in question, taking the Arkansas minimum wage to $8.50 by 2017, is pretty puny by the standards of recent increases like Seattle’s $15 or the $10.10 passed in a growing number of states, but it’s also substantially better than the state’s current minimum wage of $6.25 an hour, which applies to workers at some small businesses, or the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Having the minimum wage on the ballot could also have electoral implications. Conservative Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is facing a tough challenge, and he has endorsed the $8.50 minimum wage (though raising the federal minimum to $10.10 is just too much for him). Getting people out to vote for above-poverty wages could help Pryor defeat Rep. Tom Cotton.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on Jume 3, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.
Monday, May 26th, 2014
Adriana Alvarez has worked at McDonald’s for 4 years and makes just $8.75 an hour. She’s fighting for $15 an hour to win a better life for herself and her two year-old son Manny.
Just now, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Adriana and more than 120 fast food workers from across the country were arrested outside of McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, where hundreds of workers are refusing to be silenced before their shareholder meeting.
These fast food workers need your help. Call McDonald’s and tell them you stand with Adriana and the other workers right now: 888-979-7395. Tell them that it’s time for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without intimidation.
Adriana and her fellow McDonald’s employees were arrested for their brave act of peaceful civil disobedience. Each of them was standing up for themselves, the families their wages support, and pretty much every fast food worker everywhere. Mary Kay Henry was arrested alongside them to send a clear message to fast food workers everywhere that the 2.1 million members of SEIU — home care workers, child care workers, adjunct professors, security officers, hospital workers and many others — proudly stand with them.
Please show your support now for these unbelievably courageous workers by calling McDonald’s this minute: 888-979-7395.
Tell McDonald’s that you support these workers. Tell them that it’s shameful that workers have to be arrested in order to be heard.
Just to be extra clear: Workers have already risked a lot by going on strike last Thursday in the biggest fast food action in world history. And it’s even scarier to go straight to the source and speak up for what they believe in. But Adrianna is doing it, and so are dozens of others. It’s pretty amazing.
Now it’s your turn to speak up for what’s right. Pick up the phone and call McDonald’s now: 888-979-7395.
The McDonald’s shareholder meeting starts in less than 24 hours and we have to make sure they hear us. No one who works for a living should be forced to live in poverty. No one who works for a corporation that makes more than $5 billion in profit should have hungry kids at home.
We’ve been live tweeting today’s action from Oak Brook at @SEIU, so check out our Twitter feed for of-the-moment updates. You can also visit FastFoodGlobal.org to stay updated as news breaks.
This article was originally printed on SEIU on May 21, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
Author: Flora Johnson, Home Care Worker, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana
Monday, May 12th, 2014
The basic facts of the tipped worker minimum wage are appalling:
- It’s $2.13 an hour, and has been since 1991, because whenever the minimum wage is raised, the restaurant industry launches a massive lobbying effort to keep tipped workers from being included.
- The median wage for tipped workers is $8 an hour, and one in five lives in poverty.
- While restaurants are supposed to make up the difference when workers’ tips don’t raise them to the full minimum wage of $7.25, they often don’t.
What the absurdly low tipped worker minimum wage combined with restaurants not following the law by bringing workers up to minimum wage when their tips fall short means is this:
Like millions of Americans across the United States, 23-year-old Anna Hovland worked a waitressing job earlier this year to make ends meet. Her restaurant in Washington, DC, paid her the local minimum wage for tipped workers, $2.77 an hour, which meant that after taxes, her paycheck was usually zero. Her tips, never dependable, ranged from $20 to $200 a shift. “In a city as expensive as DC, I’ve been able to make ends meet by the skin of my teeth,” Hovland says. “Sometimes it will only be in the last week or two of a month that I’ll realize I’ve made enough to pay all my bills.” […]Hovland tells Mother Jones that before she got in touch with the Restaurant Opportunities Center last fall—to find out why she was getting zero-dollar paychecks—she had no idea that her employer was supposed to make up the difference in tips. “We never logged our tips or reported them to our employers,” she says, unless they were on credit cards. She adds, “Even after I shared information about the minimum wage difference with coworkers, nobody felt comfortable asking employers about it.”
Forcing workers to ask to be paid the minimum wage is a recipe for wage theft. Any worker who asks has to know that they’re putting a target on their back and any halfway savvy employer knows that, while they can’t admit they’re firing a worker for asking to be paid minimum wage, it won’t be hard to find an excuse to fire the worker for something else.
A few states have the same minimum wage for all workers, and recently, Hawaii included tipped workers when it raised its minimum wage to $10.10. So clearly a tipped minimum wage above $2.13 doesn’t spell doom for the restaurant industry, contrary to the industry’s lobbying efforts. Whereas the current state of affairs genuinely does spell poverty for an unacceptable number of workers.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on May 12, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.
Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Hawaii looks to become the third state to pass a $10.10 per hour minimum wage, following in the steps of Connecticut and Maryland. Legislators reached a deal on Friday on a bill that would phase in the higher wage by 2018. A final vote on the bill should come Tuesday, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) has expressed support for the bill. While the U.S. Senate is set to vote on a minimum wage increase as soon as this week, prospects remain less likely that a bill will even be voted on in the Republican-controlled U.S. House.
Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, commented on the growing trend of states increasing their minimum wage:
There’s one reason why Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland and other states throughout the country are raising the minimum wage to $10.10—because Congress hasn’t. The fact that a groundswell of states and cities are now taking action to boost pay for low-wage workers underscores the urgent need for Congress to follow suit and pass a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage.
“I commend our legislators for advancing the proposal to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It is imperative to provide our lowest-paid workers with the economic stability and security they deserve….I look forward to working with the legislature to bring fairness to the people of Hawaii.”
This article was originally printed on AFL-CIO on April 28, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Kenneth Quinnell is a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist whose writings have appeared on AFL-CIO, Daily Kos, Alternet, the Guardian Online, Media Matters for America, Think Progress, Campaign for America’s Future and elsewhere.