The Middle Class, Minimum Wage and : Punching In

Just how bad is it for the middle class?

Take a look at these two numbers.

Key Quote: “The middle-income American family is worse off, in other words, than it was 14 years ago,” says Neil Irwin.

A meeting of the minds

In Illinois, Gov. Quinn, Mayor Emmanuel and Vice President Joe Biden met with small business owners to discuss the raise the wage initiative.

Apparently there’s a plethora of black and Hispanic workers in Silicon Valley

But most of them receive lower pay and inferior benefits.

Scott Walker, Sam Brownback, Jimmy John’s, and An Explosive Email From A Walmart Manager: Punching In

More proof that he needs to go

6 must-read passages from newly released Scott Walker documents.

What’s so awesome with Kansas?

Kansas’ Gov. Brownback is Exhibit A in what could be the Tea Party Governor Backlash of 2014.

Sub-standard treatment

NLRB rules that Jimmy John’s must rehire workers who protested company’s (lack of) sick leave policy.

“I’ve witnessed so many labor violations I couldn’t even remember them all”

A Walmart manager describes how the company pits middle management against low-income workers.

Avoiding taxes, raising the wage, and who will take the Senate: Punching In

Burger King’s tax inversion scheme

If Burger King buys a Canadian-based doughnut chain, it will benefit from a drastically lower corporate tax rate of 15 percent, compared to the 35 percent rate in the U.S.

A race for the Senate

According to DailyKos’ statistical model, Democrats have a 47 percent chance of holding the Senate.

Alaskans for a higher minimum wage?

In Fairbanks, a group of union members gathered to show support for placing minimum wage on the ballot initiative this fall.

Three Overlooked Reasons For Fair Scheduling That You Haven’t Thought Of, Yet


Every day, thousands of hard-working people are forced to adhere to inconsistent schedules that result in erratic pay and a chaotic home life.

Last week, The New York Times ran a lengthy article on the sophisticated scheduling software used by employers that create schedules that wreak havoc on employees’ lives.

The article is littered with mentions of the specific ways that employers use the software to keep profits high and labor costs low. A lot of the software, for example, provides managers with information on sales patterns that enable them to cut employee hours.

While scheduling software currently, it seems, impedes on employee work hours, creators maintain that it could be used to create “more accommodating core hours.”

While the article primarily focuses on erratic scheduling’s effect on single mothers’ ability to care for their children (a valid concern), we’ve compiled a few of the less-obvious reasons why fair scheduling needs to happen, now.

  • Because the weather shouldn’t dictate your schedule. Unfortunately many retail jobs, despite being based indoors, offer hours that are dependent on the weather. Back in 2012, The New York Times ran an interesting article that put a spotlight on Jamba Juice’s reliance on the weather for its scheduling practices. The company, at least at the time, would schedule more employees on a nice day and cut hours on a rainy one. Aside from Jamba Juice, there are instances of employers sending workers home due to poor weather conditions as well.
  • Because your schedule shouldn’t prevent you from getting an education. Janette Navarro, a barista a Starbucks, told the New York Times that she was forced to put her college classes “on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes.” One of the biggest drawbacks of a mercurial schedule is that it makes it quite difficult for workers to schedule anything else in their lives.
  • Because you should be able to work a second job, if you need to. Many reports indicate that, increasingly, there’s an overwhelming group of part time workers who want full-time work, so it’s no surprise that workers are finding other jobs to supplement their wages. Much like pursuing an education, erratic scheduling keeps workers stagnant, allowing no room for other steady, part time work.

Despite the prevalence of erratic scheduling in the retail industry, Working America has launched campaigns to push for fair scheduling laws in both Minnesota and Illinois.

For more information, email Brianna Halverson at

Photo courtesy of Prabowo Restuaji via Flickr.

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If You Doubt That Raising The Minimum Wage Is A Bipartisan Issue, Check Out These Numbers


For the first time since 2008, voters in Nebraska will vote on a statewide ballot initiative. And luckily, it’s one to raise the minimum wage.

A measure to raise the minimum wage to $9 over two years qualified for Nebraska’s ballot with about 90,000 signatures–9,000 more than needed. For comparison, that’s about 11 percent of Nebraska’a 2012 voting population.

When it comes to smaller states seeing huge responses to chance to raise the minimum wage, Nebraska isn’t alone. South Dakotans turned in 26,000 signatures to get the chance to raise their minimum wage to $8.50. And at the same time Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan go head-to-head in a tight contest for U.S. Senate, Alaskans will vote in November on a measure raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

If you need proof that raising the minimum wage is an issue that crosses party lines, look at these three states.

In Nebraska’s race for U.S. Senate, Republican Ben Sasse is consistently leading Democrat Dave Domina by 17 to 25 percent. But 55 percent of Nebraskans support raising the wage, according to a poll by Voices for Children.

Over in South Dakota, voters are split between three candidates for U.S. Senate, with Republican Governor Mike Rounds ahead. On raising the wage? SurveyUSA found 60 percent support the minimum wage ballot measure.

And finally, Alaska is the site of what many expect to be one of the year’s closest U.S. Senate races. However–you guessed it!–the minimum wage increase is crushing with 67 percent, according to Public Policy Polling.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congress left for August recess with no action on wages. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell lead a knee-jerk filibuster against a bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and Speaker Boehner refuses to bring it before the House for a vote.

If Congress continues to be unresponsive to the key economic issue facing working families today, expect more cities and states to take it upon themselves to act. And expect candidates in 2014–mostly Republican, but some Democrats as well–to be in an awkward position while they stick with their default opposition to raising the minimum wage.

Photo by @BetterWagesNE on Twitter

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K&P Carwasheros Ignore Intimidation, Organize Instead

Photo courtesy RWDSU

Despite attempts by both the ownership of the K&P Car Wash and the Association of Car Wash Owners to intimidate them, workers at the K&P Car Wash in New York voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. K&P becomes the ninth car wash to unionize since a campaign was launched in 2012.

K&P employee Jose Pedro Calderon said:

We organized ourselves because we want to have a union contract that guarantees us better working conditions. But, most importantly, we organized ourselves because we wanted respect.

As the organizing drive was ongoing, K&P shut down the car wash one afternoon while members of the Association of Car Wash Owners led a captive-audience meeting. Workers report that the meeting was an attempt to make them fearful that the business could be shut down if they joined the union.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said the latest victory in the WASH campaign to organize carwasheros in New York was part of a larger movement:

This is our ninth victory in a row, and we have achieved first contracts in every other organized car wash thus far. Low-wage workers—regardless of immigration status—are coming together and standing up for better working conditions and respect on the job. We are proud of the carwasheros and welcome them to the RWDSU family.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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How The Co-Op Model Breathes New Life Into Our Poorest State’s Economy: Punching In

Making history in Ohio

A stand for voting rights: Why you should know the name Nina Turner.

Dancing around the answer in New Hampshire

Former Senator and current candidate Scott Brown refuses yet again to give his stance on raising the minimum wage.

Mississippi rising

Cooperation Jackson is using the co-op model to transform our country’s poorest state.

Recess is over

Eighth grader announces candidacy for Cedar Rapids school board on a pro-union platform.

We have the facts and we’re voting yes

Boss’s can afford it, our economy needs it: 5 charts that show it’s (long past!) time workers got a raise.

12 Recent Victories for Workers in Raising Wages and Collective Bargaining

While it certainly seems that far-right extremists are waging an all-out war on working families and their rights, workers aren’t just defending themselves; they are fighting to expand their rights and achieving some significant gains. Here are 12 recent victories we should celebrate while continuing to push for even more wins.

1. AFSCME Sets Organizing Goal, Almost Doubles It: AFSCME President Lee Saunders announced that the union has organized more than 90,000 workers this year, nearly doubling its 2014 goal of 50,000.

2. Tennessee Auto Workers to Create New Local Union at VW PlantAuto workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local that will give workers an increased voice in the operation of the German carmaker’s U.S. facility. UAW organizers continue to gain momentum, as the union has the support of nearly half of the plant’s 1,500 workers, which would make the union the facility’s exclusive collective bargaining agent.

3. California Casino Workers Organize: Workers at the new Graton Resort & Casino voted to join UNITE HERE Local 2850 of Oakland, providing job security for 600 gambling, maintenance, and food and beverage workers.

4. Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote to Join TWU: Flight attendants at Virgin America voted to join the Transport Workers, citing the success of TWU in bargaining fair contracts for Southwest Airlines flight attendants.

5. Maryland Cab Drivers Join National Taxi Workers Alliance: Cab drivers in Montgomery County, Md., announced their affiliation with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, citing low wages and unethical behavior by employers among their reasons to affiliate with the national union.

6. Retail and Restaurant Workers Win Big, Organize Small: Small groups of workers made big strides as over a dozen employees at a Subway restaurant in Bloomsbury, N.J., voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Meanwhile, cosmetics and fragrance workers at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts won an NLRB ruling that will allow them to vote on forming a union.

7. Minnesota Home Care Workers Take Key Step to Organize: Home health care workers in Minnesota presented a petition to state officials that would allow a vote on forming a union for more than 26,000 eligible workers.

8. New York Television Writers-Producers Join Writers Guild: Writers and producers from Original Media, a New York City-based production company, voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East, citing low wages, long work schedules and no health care.

9.  Fast-Food Workers Win in New NLRB Ruling: The National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald’s could be held jointly responsible with its franchisees for labor violations and wage disputes. The NLRB ruling makes it easier for workers to organize individual McDonald’s locations, and could result in better pay and conditions for workers.

10. Workers Increasingly Have Access to Paid Sick Leave: Cities such as San Diego and Eugene, Ore., have passed measures mandating paid sick leave, providing workers with needed flexibility and making workplaces safer for all.

11. Student-Athletes See Success, Improved Conditions: College athletic programs are strengtheningfinancial security measures for student-athletes in the wake of organizing efforts by Northwestern University football players. In addition, the future is bright as the majority of incoming college football players support forming a union.

12. San Diego Approves Minimum Wage Hike; Portland, Maine, Starts Process: Even as Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage, municipalities across the country have taken action. San Diego will raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, and the Portland, Maine, Minimum Wage Advisory Committee will consider an increase that would take effect in 2015.

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Minimum wage workers have lost over $6 billion: Punching In

Getting around those pesky legislators

Here’s why putting minimum wage on the ballot is a great idea.

How much money have minimum wage workers lost due to inflation?

Over $6 billion since 2009.

Hungry? In need of help? No food stamps for you

A civil rights group alleges that Gov. Kasich kicked thousands of Ohioans off of food stamps.

Here’s the National Right to Work Committee’s newest attack on labor

And it’s attacking exclusive representation.

What Happened In San Diego Serves As A Powerful Reminder That Local Elections Matter


On July 14, the San Diego City Council voted 6-3 to raise San Diego’s minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017.

On August 8, Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the bill.

That’s the part of the script you’ve seen before. But this time, the ending was different.

On Tuesday, six members of the City Council overturned Mayor Faulconer’s veto. The city’s business establishment, lead by the Chamber of Commerce, is seeking to gather 34,000 signatures in 30 days to put the issue to voters in November, which would delay its implementation. But otherwise, the measure is on its way to becoming law.

Faulconer, a Republican, was elected in a close special election in February following the resignation of Democrat Bob Filner. Because of his conservative leanings and close business ties, his victory was seen as a loss for working people.

But the minimum wage fight is another example of why you should never count out your local elections. Instead of an utter defeat at the hands of Mayor Faulconer, the Council’s one-vote-margin super-majority has given the bill another shot.

With no federal action on wages expected anytime soon (Thanks archaic Senate rules! Thanks Mitch McConnell! Thanks gerrymandered, unresponsive Congress!), the action is all in states and cities. Ten states have raise the minimum wage this year alone, and Seattle has a plan to raise their wage to $15 over the next few years. It’s no coincidence that ALEC has formed a new offshoot to focus on city and county issues.

In the country’s eighth-largest city, one city council member had the power to keep a bill raising wages for an estimated 172,000 people from dying.

That’s why you have to vote, and not just for President. For Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Vote for County Commissioners. Vote for Mayor and City Council. Vote for municipal positions like Clerk and Auditor. Vote for hyper-local positions if you have them, because they might be City Councilors someday.

Our opposition isn’t taking any chances. ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce take a great interest in current (and future) city officials to make sure they will be on their side when things like minimum wage reach their desks.

One local election made the difference for 172,000 weekly paychecks. Replicate that in every city and town? That’s what change looks like–not just one victory or defeat at the top of the ticket.

Photo via Raise Up San Diego on Facebook

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