Last week we told you that paycheck deception and other anti-worker legislation formulated in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC‘s) corporate-backed laboratories were moving in the Missouri legislature. Now paycheck deception is close to a Senate vote, and the Missouri AFL-CIO is urging Show-Me State voters to call their state senators—1-888-907-9711—and urge them to oppose S.B. 29.
Says Missouri AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey:
Extremists are pushing a paycheck deception bill that would silence the voices of snow plow drivers, street crews, nurses, grocery store workers and other hardworking Missourians. Attacks on front-line workers are the last thing our state needs. It won’t create a single job, but the paycheck deception bill and similar measures will make life more difficult for the front-line workers who work for us every day.
Julie Parker, the creator of the sign above, is among several Working America members and staffers who came out for the economic justice street theatre organized by the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) this week. PHAN’s skit called on Congress to protect funding for critical programs – like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – by eliminating the costly sweetheart deals and loopholes set up to benefit corporations and pharmaceutical companies.
Over the course of PHAN’s street theatre, Larry the Lobbyist and his costly Loophole smugly sucked up a mother’s purse, a college student’s backpack, and a senior’s medication money, revealing the costliness of corporate tax loopholes and deals to the American People.
Not only do these corporate breaks suck up our money, they strain our country’s resources. The desperate situation caused by such loopholes and deals gives rightwing politicians fuel to attack critical social insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
The Working America members at PHAN’s event know that we cannot allow the slashing of such programs: programs that keep our seniors and low-income folks afloat and able to take care of their health.
Julie Parker (seen above holding her sign) explained what inspired her to create her sign:
“I remember visiting Alcatraz prison and seeing a sign stating that the prisoners were entitled to medical care along with food, clothing, and shelter….I thought that if our convicted felons were entitled to health care, shouldn’t our citizens also be entitled to the same? After all, the only ‘crime’ [of recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security] is being old or poor.”
Friday is the day that sequestration cuts begin to take effect. Whether it affects your job directly or not, these cuts are going to hit communities hard—undermining schools, roads, air traffic control, food safety, law enforcement and services that fill the basic needs of low-income families. Tens of thousands of people would lose housing assistance, mental health care and food assistance, and an estimated 700,000 jobs would be lost.
We’re already going through austerity—in the past few years, we’ve shed hundreds of thousands of public jobs. More austerity through sequestration is going to put more drag on our economy for no real positive effect.
The solution is to disarm the hostage takers so they no longer can hold the economy hostage to get their way…There is no economic need to replace “sequestration” or meet any arbitrary deficit reduction target. Further fiscal austerity before the United States returns to full employment only would weaken the economy and cost jobs. If the “sequester” is to be replaced, it should be replaced in a way that minimizes drag on the economy.
All of these ransom demands are wildly unpopular, which is why Republican leaders keep manufacturing crises to get their way.
This week, the U.S. Senate will vote on a bill that would defer sequestration while also implementing some long-overdue tax changes. These changes include the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum tax rate for very-high-income people who bring in $1 million or more every year, and the end of a loophole that allows companies to deduct costs associated with shipping jobs overseas. It’s ridiculous that, with unemployment still too high, we keep giving corporations a tax incentive to send jobs elsewhere. It needs to end, and that would be a big, positive change.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also released a plan that halts the sequester cuts and implements some smart new changes to the tax code—closing loopholes that primarily benefit the very wealthy.
A recent survey by Business Insider suggests that people much prefer implementing the above-mentioned Senate plan or the Congressional Progressive Caucus plan instead of the sequester (or the House Republican plan).
Karen Nussbaum, co-founder and executive director of Working America, will appear Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST in the PBS premiere of the documentary “MAKERS: Women Who Make America.” Working America is the fastest-growing organization for working families in the United States.
The documentary is narrated by actress Meryl Streep and examines the modern American women’s movement through interviews and personal stories with the women who lived it. Nussbaum talks about the successes and failures of the women’s movement, organizing on the job and pop culture moments like the movie “9 to 5″ and Dolly Parton’s famous song of the same name.
In Minnesota, we currently have a number of bills in the legislature that propose to raise the minimum wage from between $7.50/hour to $10.55/hour. Yesterday, the JOBS NOW Coalition and University of Minnesota Labor Education Service hosted a panel of experts from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Economic Policy Institute and the University of Minnesota to discuss the relationship between the minimum wage and building a sustainable economy. The panel discussed the many dimensions to this issue and how a larger increase to the minimum wage would have a much more positive impact, not only for low wage workers, but Minnesota’s economy as a whole.
Here are some key takeaways from yesterday’s panel, via the JOBS NOW Coalition.
Far from being a national leader, Minnesota is one of only five states or territories whose minimum wage is below the federal. The other four are Wyoming, Arkansas, Georgia, and Puerto Rico.
Historically costs rise over time, and a dollar today buys less than a dollar a year ago, ten years ago, or forty years ago. If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with inflation and maintained it’s purchasing power since 1968, it would today be over $10.55 an hour, or $21,944 a year for a full-time worker.
In Minnesota, raising the minimum wage to about $10.00 an hour would mean better wages for half a million workers. Some 78 percent of those workers are age 20 or older, and 35 percent are married or are parents.
A growing number of economic studies show that increasing the minimum wage preserves jobs and may even stimulate small net increases in jobs. A nationwide study shows no job loss resulting from minimum wage increases from 1990 to 2006, even where a county on one side of a state border has a higher minimum wage than a county on the other side.
Near the end of the discussion, economist John Schmitt for the Center for Economic and Policy Research dispelled what he thought was the biggest myth about the minimum wage. He said that too often, people think that if workers are paid a low wage, it’s because that is what they are worth; but this is obviously not the truth. With decades of suppressing the minimum wage, busting unions, enacting unfair trade deals and creating an immigration policy that pits low wage workers against themselves, the decision for what a fair wage should be is almost entirely decided by anyone but the worker. It is this inequity in bargaining power that has lead to increased productivity and profits for employers and stagnant or decreasing wages for workers, as well as many other economic injustices. Ultimately, raising the minimum wage for all workers in Minnesota won’t completely solve this problem, but it’s a great step in the right direction.