Of the 8 Million ACA Enrollees, 35% Are Under 35


Despite naysayers predicting that Obamacare would fail due to a lack of engagement by those aged 18 to 35, President Obama just announced that 35% of enrollees are in fact under the age of 35.

This comes as great news for the ACA and the administration that implemented it, as much of its future success is dependent on the younger demographic participating.

Since the deadline to register passed in March, Obama has seen numerous victories as enrollment numbers have exceeded expectations and costs are lower than expected.

During the press conference Obama took some time to note the GOP’s longstanding reluctance to accept the law.

“I recognize that their party is going through the stages of grief — anger, denial, all that stuff,” Obama said of Republicans. “We’re not at acceptance yet.”

“The point is the repeal debate is and should be over. The Affordable Care Act is working,” Obama said in a press conference from the White House briefing room.

The next cycle of open enrollment begins on November 15, 2014. For more information on how you can get healthcare, visit WorkingAmericaHealthCare.com.

Photo courtesy of Will O’Neil via Flickr.

Workers File Complaint Under New Houston Wage Theft Ordinance


On Tuesday, a group of workers organized to file a complaint under the new Houston wage theft ordinance.

Erik Lopez and 12 other workers, in collaboration with the Faith and Justice Worker Center, claim that they’re owed $200,000 in unpaid wages, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The group, who did sub-contracting work on city projects, claim that they were forced to work 80 hour work weeks with no overtime, denied tax forms, and paid with personal checks and cash in an attempt to keep them off the books.

“(My boss) would tell me it didn’t really suit him to pay me overtime,” said Lopez, 30, a native of Guerrero state in Mexico, who came to Houston 14 years ago seeking work. “I worked all the time, but we struggled paying our bills.”

Lopez notes that alone, he probably lost out on $40,000 due to his employers’ negligence.

“I always wanted to do something about it, because it’s not right,” he said. “But I was afraid.”

In November, Lopez heard about the wage ordinance and decided to take action.

Working America was instrumental in the passing of a wage ordinance that brings wage theft cases to the forefront while banning violators from obtaining contracts, permits and licenses with the city.

For months, we petitioned and organized workers in hopes of holding businesses accountable for taking advantage of working families.

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Punching In: Lunchtime Edition

In case you were wondering why we should raise the wage

Key Quote: “There is dignity in all work, but that dignity grows dim when the checks are cashed and the coins are counted and still the bills rise higher than the wages.”

New York is considering a $15 an hour minimum wage.

A corporate takeover?

Corporations are trying to strip you of your legal rights via Internet participation.

Warren for president

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sings Elizabeth Warren’s praises as potential president.

Can Scott Walker be defeated?

Meet the candidate who’s giving Scott Walker a run for his money.

Democracy schmocracy

A new study argues that the U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy.

The evil empire

Koch brothers lobbied to end federal flood insurance subsidies to Katrina victims.

Here’s a case for paid sick leave

Despite wanting to work, a pregnant woman was forced to take unpaid leave.

ACA= Winning

Obamacare has taken a surprisingly positive turn.

6 Reasons Why Unions Are Essential to Creating Broadly Based Prosperity

6 Reasons Why Unions Are Essential to Creating Broadly Based Prosperity

At the end of March, the Roosevelt Institute launched a new project, the Future of Work, which takes a look at the changing landscape in the area of workers’ rights and representation in the political and economic system that affects their lives. Author Richard Kirsch does a great job of explaining the economy and discussing potential policy solutions in a report titled The Future of Work in America: Policies to Empower American Workers and Secure Prosperity for All.

Kirsch said:

The Future of Work is bringing together thought and action leaders from multiple fields to re-imagine a 21st century social contract that expands workers’ rights and increases the number of living wage jobs. The Future of Work is focusing on three areas: Promoting new and innovative strategies for worker organizing and representation; raising the floor of labor market standards and strengthening enforcement of labor laws and standards; and assuring access to good jobs for women and workers of color.

In the report, Kirsch breaks down the issues and solutions into several categories. Read more about each:

1. The New Deal Launched Unions as Key to Building Middle Class

2. The Challenges to Organizing Workers in Today’s Economy

3. National Labor Law in the United States: Scanty Protections for Organizing Leave Out Many Workers

4. How the Weakening of American Labor Led to the Shrinking of America’s Middle Class

5. Labor Law That Would Support Organizing in Today’s Economy

6. Labor Law for All Workers: Empowering Workers to Challenge Corporate Decision Making

You also can read Kirsch’s full report, which goes into more detail on each of these points.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW.

Income Inequality Organization to Pay Paul Krugman $25,000 a Month – Seriously

paul krugman

If researchers at CUNY’s Luxembourg Income Study Center are looking to find a reason behind the ever widening income inequality that’s plaguing this country, they might not have to look very far.

The New York-based state school will pay Paul Krugman, a New York Times contributor and economist, $25,000 a month as part of a professorship at the University’s Graduate Center and Luxembourg Income Study Center.

The irony here is that the Luxembourg Center is essentially paying Krugman $225,000 a year to help extend its research on income inequality.

Krugman’s official letter was obtained by Gawker, and it states that Krugman will be expected to “play a modest role in our public events” while contributing to the “build up” of an “inequality initiative”.

It’s not explicit whether or not Krugman will be doing any teaching during his tenure at CUNY, but he did seem relatively shocked by the salary amount replying, “I admit that I had to read it several times to be clear … it’s remarkably generous.”

It’s worth noting that the public institution pays its adjunct professors about $3,000 per class, per semester while salaried professors make $116,364 a year.

Photo courtesy of Charles Fettinger via Flickr.

Why the “Rich States, Poor States” Report Is An Enormous Joke: Punching In

Busting economic myths

Long-term joblessness is up among all education levels.

ALEC’s “Rich States, Poor States” report is an enormous joke.

Key Quote: “Obviously ALEC is ranking states based on each state’s level of deregulation and awarding the most deregulated states, but the outcomes seem to have very little bearing in where companies actually want to launch and do business.

Lily Ledbetter says politicians who oppose paycheck fairness are “out of touch with reality.”

Prominent conservative: Women need to be paid less than men so they can find husbands.

More than one way to be a governor

Nevada’s Republican governor Brian Sandoval urges Speaker Boehner to pass unemployment insurance extension.

Mother Jones on New Mexico’s Gov. Martinez: “nasty, juvenile, vindictive…ignorant about basic policy issues.”

Organizing across the country

Postal workers fight against USPS-Staples partnership: “a big step toward privatization.”

Northwestern football union outcome could be unknown for months.

Baltimore hospital workers strike for more-than-poverty wages.

Retired municipal workers in Detroit reach deal on pensions.

Finally: How was your tax day?

Don’t let these zombie tax breaks come back to life.

Alaska House Passes Bill to Undercut Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative

alaska pic

In a thinly veiled attempt to stop a true minimum wage increase from ever happening, the Alaska House voted 21-19 to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour by July 1, 2014.

Although the bill seems like a good thing,  the political maneuvering that transpired deserves a closer look.

A large majority of House Democrats – who are currently pushing to place a very similar minimum wage increase on the August ballot – voted against the bill, while a majority of Republican legislators voted for it.

Why? Under Alaska law, if the bill passes it will terminate the ballot initiative. A bill passed by the legislature can be changed or repealed in the next session, while a policy passed by voters on the ballot is much harder to change.

Supporters of a ballot initiative worry that the new bill will eventually be watered down while restricting legislators from making amendments for two years.

“It’s a strange vote, and it’s going to be difficult to justify to my voters,” Representative Scott Kawasaki (D) said, “I simply think this is a disingenuous piece of legislation.”

This isn’t the first time that an attempt has been made to block true progress on a minimum wage hike in Alaska.

“In 2002, the legislature played the same political game, passing a bill that indexed the minimum wage to inflation and booting a similar voter initiative off the fall ballot. The next year, the Republican-led legislature removed the cost-of-living adjustment,” the Washington Post reports.

The Senate is scheduled to vote in the coming weeks.

PayWatch: CEO Pay Hits ‘Insane Level’


It’s good to be a CEO, at least paywise. According to the 2014 AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, released today, it’s 331 times better to be a CEO than an average worker. PayWatch finds that the average CEO of an S&P 500 company pocketed $11.7 million in 2013, while the average worker earned $35,293. The gap between CEOs and minimum wage workers is more than twice as wide—774 times.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that PayWatch:

“Calls attention to the insane level of compensation for CEOs, while the workers who create those corporate profits struggle for enough money to take care of the basics.”

While CEO pay has hit stratospheric levels, workers and their families have been left in an economic quagmire of stagnant wagesexpiration of unemployment insurance for long-term jobless workers, an abysmally low minimum wage and unequal pay between men and women.

Many of the CEOs highlighted in PayWatch head companies, such as Walmart, that are notorious for paying low wages. This year PayWatch highlights five low-wage companies through stories from workers at Walmart, Kellogg’s, Reynolds American , Darden Restaurants and T-Mobile.

For example, in fiscal 2013, Walmart CEO Michael T. Duke received $20,693,545 in total compensation. PayWatch points out that a minimum wage worker at Walmart would have had to work 1,372 hours just to earn what Duke made in an hour. Tiffany, a Walmart worker and mother of two in Maryland, said:

“I earned about $12,000 last year as a full-time employee. These poverty wages force my family to receive public assistance. Currently, we are enrolled in the public health care program for low-income families, and the Women, Infants and Children program for my infant daughter.”

And while many of these companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, S&P 500 companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase. Said Trumka:

“These companies are run by shortsighted business leaders, because people who earn minimum wage, for instance, can’t afford cellphones from T-Mobile or dinner at Red Lobster or the Olive Garden, both of which are owned by Darden Restaurants. America’s CEOs—as exemplified by the individuals of these companies—are cannibalizing their own consumer base. It’s wrong. It’s unfair, and it’s bad economics.”

PayWatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies. The website offers visitors the ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives, highlights the 100 top-paid CEOs, and breaks out CEO pay data by state and by industry.

The site also tracks and grades votes cast by 78 of the largest mutual-fund families on executive compensation at the public companies they invest in. Mutual funds own more than one-fifth of all shares in U.S. public companies, giving them a great deal of influence in determining executive pay at these companies.

PayWatch also gives you a chance to help the nation’s lowest-paid workers by signing a petition urging Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. It would provide a much-needed increase to $10.10 an hour, raise the tipped minimum wage for the first time in more than 20 years and help lift more than half of the nation’s working poor out of poverty.

Sign the petition to raise the minimum wage. 

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Punching In: Tax Day Edition

Taxes, taxes, taxes

Your tax rate might be lower, but you’re still paying more than most corporations.

Key Quote: “After taking advantage of credits, exemptions, and offshore tax havens, U.S. corporations get away with paying an average of less than 13 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office.”

Also, this is how your tax dollars are subsidizing the wealthy Walmart clan.

Raise the wage!

Here’s an awesome graphic that disproves a common myth about  minimum wage workers.

Rent is rising despite stagnant wages, making it more difficult for Americans to live in cities.

Oklahoma Gov. bans paid sick days and minimum wage hike, yikes.

The Ryan budget

Here’s are the top nine reasons why it should go away, forever.

Retail sales on the up

Retail sales saw the biggest increase since 2012.

More good news for the ACA

The cost of Obamacare could be reduced by 7% over the next decade.

Working America Demands an Economically Fair Budget in Pennsylvania


Working America’s mission is rooted in economic justice.  We fight for family-sustaining jobs, quality public education, affordable and accessible healthcare, retirement security, and corporate accountability.

But despite our efforts, in most areas, public and higher education funding levels in the proposed budget are below where they were in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.  Meanwhile, local corporations continue to enjoy a gaping tax loophole and the continued evaporation of the capital stock and franchise tax.

In Western Pennsylvania, Working America members are organizing to get Gov. Tom Corbett to prioritize economic justice when he influences the state budget. We’re raising community awareness about the state budget and its impacts, building public support for an economically just state budget, and providing community members with the opportunity to speak to decision-makers.

Countless community members have been negatively affected by Gov. Corbett’s economically unjust budgets.  A college student’s mother lost her teaching job, and adjunct professors make poverty-level wages, with no healthcare.

Should our elected officials continue to short-change students and vulnerable Pennsylvanians to support corporate tax breaks?  No. Overwhelmingly, the community members I speak with demand an economically just state budget that strengthens funding for public education, higher education, and social services through revenue gained and saved by expanding Medicaid and requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

As part of our mission to positively influence the budget, Working America members will meet face-to-face with decisions makers like state representatives and senators.  Members will also gather petitions, etc., from community members to demonstrate to decision-makers the extensive community support for a state budget that strengthens funding for schools and social services through demanding corporate accountability and expanding Medicaid.  Finally,  members will engage the media to educate and inspire community members throughout the region.

To find out how to connect with Working America Pittsburgh, or to participate in a campaign for economic justice happening near you, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association via Flickr.