Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘pay raise’

New Haven teachers strike drags on for a 14th day this week in the war on workers

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Teachers in California’s New Haven Unified School District have been on strike for 14 days as of Friday. They were considering the school district’s “last, best, and final offer,” which falls short of the pay increases teachers are calling for. The school district entered negotiations offering zero raise, meaning teachers would be falling behind as the cost of living rises.

A group of frustrated parents is attempting a recall of three school board members, saying, “We have witnessed a total and complete lack of willingness and ability of this board to lead us through these difficult times,” and, “Teachers in this school district deserve more from this board of education and administration. The students deserve more from all of us.”

The New Haven strike follows teachers strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Denver, Colorado; and West Virginia—all in 2019. Teachers in South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Massachusetts have also held significant protests this year.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on June 1, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

A Historic Day in the Fight for Fair Wages

Friday, September 5th, 2014

seiuHome care workers join call for $15 and a union.

Fast Food workers raise stakes in acts of civil disobedience.

In 150 cities from coast to coast, thousands of working people today demonstrated  at fast food restaurants as part of a “history-making,” growing movement to get our economy moving again by improving wages.

“We’re a movement now… We know this is going to be a long fight, but we’re going to fight it till we win,” Latoya Caldwell of Kansas City, Mo., said in a news story chronicling the many victories for working people that brave fast food workers have won in their fight so far.

At the crack of dawn, 52 fast food workers in Detroit and 21 fast food workers in New York were arrested during sit-ins calling on McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and others to raise their pay. Additional arrests came soon after everywhere from Chicago to Little Rock.

In Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit, home care workers – both nonunion and SEIU members – joined fast food workers in their call for $15 an hour and the right to unite in a union.

“Earning $15 would make a huge difference,” LaTonya Allen, a home-care aide in Atlanta who earns $9 an hour, told the New York Times. “It would really help me and my husband pay our bills. It would enable us to do more things together as a family. All we do now is work, work, work.”

Originally appeared in SEIU Blog on September 4, 2014. Reprinted with Permission. http://www.seiu.org/blog/

Chicago Teachers Vow Renewed Activism Over Revoked Raises

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

kari-lydersenChicago teachers will earn a total of about $100 million less than expected in the next academic year, as last week the new Board of Education under new Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel voted to deny 4 percent raises scheduled for each year of their five-year contract.

Some teachers have called the move a violation of the contract, signed in 2007, though it stipulates the board must decide each year whether the district can afford the raises.

As public school teachers are under attack across the country — painted as overpaid, lazy and ineffective by right-wing pundits and belt-tightening administrators — Chicago Teachers Union members say the latest move could mean war.

Rebecca Vevea reported for the Chicago News Cooperative:

The newly seated Chicago Board of Education may have won the first battle with Chicago teachers this week when it rescinded a 4 percent pay raise, but it may also have ended a relatively peaceful era in labor relations and created a more pugnacious adversary … Some teachers and observers say that backing the union into a corner on wages and other key issues could be the spark to reinvigorate the membership.

The school board said the move was unavoidable given the $712 million gap the schools system is facing. But teachers and critics have questioned the validity of that number. The Chicago News Cooperative also previously reported that among other doubts about the figure, the administration was not accounting for $75 million in federal funds still available to the school system.

Under a state law passed last week – another blow to union teachers – 75 percent of the membership would need to authorize a strike. (The law also makes it harder for teachers to get tenure). But teachers union leaders and members have said frustration over the rescinding of promised raises and other developments means they could reach that threshold.

The union also could move to reopen the contract as a whole, which would mean a third party arbiter’s involvement in drafting a revised contract.

In an editorial published in The Chicago Tribune, teachers union president Karen Lewis wrote:

The Chicago Board of Education voted to deny Chicago teachers and paraprofessionals the very modest raise agreed to in the contract. That’s not right — and more important, it’s bad for our students. Breaking promises with teachers, engineers and lunchroom staff is no way to attract and retain top-notch employees.

Chicago public schools teachers reportedly earn an average $69,000 a year. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Chicago teachers’ pay ranks 37th statewide. In wealthy Chicago suburbs, average public school teacher pay is more than $100,000 a year. In Chicago, the paper said, only one percent of teachers make six figures. It is widely believed that the salaries, along with a general lack of resources and other problems, are why many of the best teachers in Chicago leave for the suburbs or private schools.

Lewis noted that teachers have expressed their willingness to cooperate in finding other ways to save costs. She also wrote:

The city gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to big developers. And for years, Chicago has played fast and loose with our school system’s finances. Tax-increment financing districts take hundreds of millions of dollars away from our schools each year. The city took more than a billion dollars from the pension system and engaged in risky mortgage swaps with big Wall Street banks. If we’re going to get serious about funding shortfalls, we should renegotiate these wasteful deals — not break promises to teachers.

This article originally appeared on the Working In These Times blog on June 20, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Kari Lydersen is an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book is Revolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at kari.lydersen@gmail.com.

A Worldwide Revolt Against Poverty Wages

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Jonathan TasiniYesterday, I wrote about how the decline of U.S. wages has made workers here cheaper to hire than workers in India, at least in the call center industry. Today, the news hails from Asia where workers are rising up against poverty-level wages.

From the Financial Times (and, as a side observation, the FT gives far better insight on a regular basis on these trends than anything you can read in the U.S. traditional press):

Bangladeshi garment workers, who make clothes for western brands such as H&M, Gap and Marks & Spencer, greeted a recent 80 per cent pay rise by rampaging angrily through the capital Dhaka burning cars and looting shops.

For the world’s lowest- paid garment workers, the increase in the minimum wage, effective from November, takes their pay from $23 to $43 (€33, £27.50) a month. It was their first pay rise for four years, a period of soaring food and fuel prices. However, the workers were enraged that Dhaka had not agreed to the $75 a month they had demanded.

“This is not enough for the survival of workers and their families,” said Amirul Haque Amin, president of Bangladesh’s National Garment Workers’ Federation, which has about 23,000 members. “Living costs – including food, clothes, shelter and medical care – are going higher and higher.”

….Demands for better pay across Asia reflect improving job opportunities in economies that are growing faster than their western markets.

….
In Cambodia, Phnom Penh recently raised the minimum wage by 21 per cent  – from $50 a month to $61. That was below what the more activist of Cambodia’s 273 unions demanded, although a three-day, industry-wide strike did not materialise.

Vietnam recorded 200 strikes last year by workers hit by inflation of 9 per cent. In April, for example, nearly 10,000 workers walked out of a Taiwan-owned shoe factory, demanding better pay.

In Indonesia – where powerful trade unions with millions of members play a crucial role in negotiating with employers – minimum wages, set by regional authorities, have been increasing.

In 2008, Jakarta raised the local minimum wage by 10 per cent to nearly $100 a month, although wages in the country’s remoter regions are half that.
….
“There are no industrial relations,” says Mr Alam. “The whole attitude is arrogant and feudal. Owners and government think they are helping the workers. The workers are not treated like workers – they are treated like beggars.”[emphasis added]

What is going on here?

There is a thread that connects the anger coursing throughout the globe about the entire failed economic model foisted upon the world’s workers for decades. Here, people have had it with working hard for decades and seeing all that hard work–productivity has been rising for 30 years–turn into a steady stream of money into the pockets of CEOs and the richest one percent. Republicans and Democrats have supported a bankrupt economic system based on the “free market” and “free trade”, leveraged buyouts that obliterate middle-class jobs and a campaign finance system that greases a knee-jerk granting of tax cuts for business before making sure that regular people can form unions to act as a counter-weight to the rapacious nature of the market.

And what of those jobs flowing abroad? Well, the FT article shows the reality: slave labor. No surprise. Those stories have been surfacing for years–yet, despite the growing poverty around the world, we still have a bi-partisan support (including from our president) for the very so-called “free trade” policies that have bred substandard wages.

Where this leads is not easy to tell. It is easy to talk about worldwide solidarity–and a whole lot harder to make it happen, because of cultural and language differences, the massive physical distances between one slave-wage haven and another, the inability of the poorest to have enough resources to organize on a daily basis…a whole host of reasons.

But, it is clear–the people have had it. They cannot, and should not, put up with the siphoning of the world’s wealth and resources into the hands of a few.

About the Author Jonathan Tasini: is the executive director of Labor Research Association. Tasini ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in New York. For the past 25 years, Jonathan has been a union leader and organizer, a social activist, and a commentator and writer on work, labor and the economy. From 1990 to April 2003, he served as president of the National Writers Union (United Auto Workers Local 1981).He was the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. The New York Times, the landmark electronic rights case that took on the corporate media’s assault on the rights of thousands of freelance authors.

Whaddya Gonna Do?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Okay, I have a confession to make. I’m still a big Soprano’s fan. So this week’s blog is going to combine the number one question that everyone in business needs to ask themselves with a short homage to my favorite Jersey family. Capiche?

“Whaddya Gonna Do?”

This question is the closest thing to a mantra on the Sopranos. Business turns south, someone goes after an important customer or suddenly the feds are wreaking havoc. Inevitably one of the characters shrugs, grabs a drink and blurts out, whaddya gonna do?

Unlike a certain organized crime family on TV, most of us do have plenty that we can do. But we are so mired in the fog of our jobs that we fail to see it.

Take a lousy boss. Whaddya gonna do? Well you can go boss shopping. Start looking inside and outside your company for a boss that you can trust. Yep, trust. Get creative with using conference rooms for taking calls to potential employers, using fake doctor’s visits to go for interviews and using letters from clients for references. Serve on committees that will increase your visibility, find excuses to meet with potential new bosses (example, by serving on a United Way committee) or just hang out in the executive bathroom until your top executive prospect hears nature’s call.

Take a crummy paycheck. Whaddya gonna do? Ask to meet with your boss to discuss a raise. After they give you a ton of reasons why it won’t happen, smile and ask for specific performance targets you’d need to hit to get a raise. Specific is the key. Find out what it will take, document the conversation then put all of your creativity to work to hit the target. But don’t just play inside your company. Start shopping your resume outside of it. That is the quickest way to getting a bump in pay, because your company will never pay you what you’re worth until you have a firm outside offer from another company. Never.

Take not having enough hours in a day. Whaddya gonna do? For most of us, the key to getting more done isn’t about squeezing more stuff into your already full eight or nine hour day. The key is to ensure that you’re focusing your best efforts into the areas of greatest opportunity for both you and your company. I’m a big believe in the 80-20 rule. I try to always put 80% of my best effort into my most important projects. It’s tough to do because the urgent always has a way of trumping the important, but you’ve got to resist that temptation and keep your eyes on the prize.

Take being scared of being laid off. Whaddya gonna do? People write to me all the time describing a lay off that came out of nowhere. And yes, that can happen. But more often than not there were subtle clues about what was going to happen. The company suddenly started cutting the budget, sending important projects to other departments and transferring the starts to other departments at your company. We all have to be careful about getting too comfortable and keep our eyes on what is next for our industry, our company but most of all ourselves.

Whaddya gonna do? Plenty. Because you don’t have to be stuck with the mob, you can chart your own course of action.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, award-winning journalist and popular speaker. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com .

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