The following is a guest post from Working America member Israel Chavez from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
One in five Latinos is paid the minimum wage, and nationally 33 percent of Latinos live in poverty, the second highest racial/ethnic group. This means an increase in the federal minimum wage would directly affect the quality of life for Latinos families across the country and especially in poor states like New Mexico.
Raising the minimum wage to a level that would allow families to adequately provide would alleviate strains these families experience under the current wage.
What we need is a wage that allows people to live decently and is tied to the cost of living.
In Albuquerque, 66 percent of voters supported a raised minimum wage that is indexed to inflation, meaning it will automatically increase as the cost of living goes up. This is often interpreted as an automatic “raise” but that is just false. Indexing wages simply means that as the prices of necessary goods increases, like milk, gasoline, and clothing, minimum wage will be able to keep up.
All too frequently, those who oppose raising the minimum wage have never had support a family on it. It is a matter of dignity and fair pay for work that is performed. Wages are not a handout but hard earned money by deserving people. Policies that allow families to adequately support themselves impacts the whole community positively.
Today, those who would oppose increasing the minimum wage claim that it would devastate the economy, stating that it would increase prices of goods and hurt workers even more. However, studies show that as the value of minimum wage decreases, inflation continues to increase.
All the while, gross domestic product of the United States, with minor exception of the recession, has continued to rise. As the buying power of low wage workers decreases, year after year corporations lobby to keep the minimum wage low in order to continually grow profits on the backs of America’s lowest paid employees.
A lot of people claim it’s only young people that make the minimum wage. Only about 12 percent of minimum wage workers are younger than 20 years old. But claiming only young people make minimum wage just reinforces the argument that Latinos need this increase. In the U.S., Hispanics are younger than the rest of the population, with a median age of 27 years, significantly younger than the rest of the population which is 37 years. In truth, raising the minimum wage will provide a boost to all Latino workers, young and old alike.
The New Mexico House and Senate passed an increase in the minimum wage, but Gov. Susanna Martinez vetoed the bill. In Albuquerque, Mayor Richard Berry and members of the City Council have tried various maneuvers to slow or weaken implementation of the new minimum wage. But Working America is fighting to raise the minimum wage: it’s good for Latino workers, it’s good for small businesses, and above all, it’s the right thing to do.
Photo via @OleNewMexico on Twitter
Tags: Albuquerque, Jobs, Latino, minimum wage, New Mexico
SeaTac, Washington. Have you heard of it? Unless you’re from the area, you probably only know the town from its most well-known business: the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, also known as Sea-Tac.
But on Tuesday, the working class suburb of SeaTac put its name on the map in a big way. By a narrow margin, they sent a proposition to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour on track to victory.
For the more than 6,500 full- and part-time employees at the Sea-Tac Airport, this is welcome news. From servers and cooks at airport restaurants to the baggage handlers and other airline employees, many Sea-Tac workers are forced by necessity to work two low-wage jobs, and very few can afford to take off work when they get sick.
And they aren’t earning low wages because they aren’t doing their jobs — quite the opposite. 33 million travelers spent a whopping $180 million at the airport last year. Alaska Airlines, headquartered at Sea-Tac, has posted record profits. The Anthony’s restaurant at Sea-Tac is the top-grossing airport restaurant in North America. They have more than earned a raise.
It’s worth noting too that minimum wage increases have not hampered business in other airport cities like Albuquerque, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, or Santa Fe.
Yet, this was a heated, expensive battle. In the town of 25,000 people, spending on both sides equaled approximately $300 per likely voter. The National Restaurant Association threw in $50,000 opposing the measure, on top of $60,000 spent by its Washington affiliate. Two of the biggest forces involved in the race will come as no surprise: ALEC and the Koch Brothers.
If you want a good indication of how much is truly riding on SeaTac’s $15 an hour minimum wage initiative, you need look no further than who is fighting it: The ultra-conservative billionaire Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)…Two of our nation’s most powerful right-wing political forces are joining together to fight and kill the $15 an hour minimum wage movement in tiny SeaTac before it has an opportunity to take root.
The Kochs and their allies understand that when the town of SeaTac experiences an economic boom from this wage increase, which Puget Sound Sage estimates at $54 million, it will only invigorate efforts to raise the wage in other cities and towns, or even nationally.
The Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, right-wing think tanks, and the billionaires that make up the so-called business community that opposes wage increases, sick days ordinances, and improvements for workers at every turn, is running out of excuses to keep saying “No.” The SeaTac vote is another chink their well-funded armor.
Photo by Yes! For SeaTac on Facebook
Tags: Jobs, minimum wage, seatac, washington
How so-called “voter ID” laws make it hard (or impossible) for women to vote.
Hundreds of federal workers are joining a lawsuit against the federal government.
Key Quote: “It is fundamentally unfair for us to work without pay, because we have bills, we have families, and we need to put food on the table.”
Median wage is at its lowest level since 1998.
Put another way: 40 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
News from abroad: Bangladesh government proposes 77 cent wage increase for garment workers.
Appeals court ruling blocks key provisions of Scott Walker’s union-busting bill.
Finally: Vote! Vote! Vote! Elections today across the country in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Maine, California, Colorado, Texas, and more.
Sure, to some people #LaborDayIs about barbecues and fashion rules. But #LaborDayIs also about, you know, labor. Today, workers across the country are struggling for decent wages, safe workplaces, affordable healthcare, and even basic civil rights.
North Carolina’s Moral Monday
Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) and the North Carolina legislature have passed huge cuts to state unemployment insurance, an overhaul of the state tax code, big education cuts and the nation’s strictest voting restrictions. Lead by the NC NAACP’s Rev. William Barber, North Carolinans of all stripes have gathered by the thousands to for huge weekly “Moral Monday” protests to stand up to Gov. McCrory’s agenda.
Learn more about Moral Monday and check out some sweet protest photos.
Oh and thanks to @sherierb for the thumbnail photo.
The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers
After the huge protests in 2011 against Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining restrictions, Gov. Scott Walker and his allies changed the rules at the state Capitol Building in Madison, requiring protesters to have permits. His reasoning? Um, none.
The Wisconsin Solidarity Singers had been gathering in the Capitol every day to protest the Walker agenda through song, and suddenly their gatherings were illegal. Singers started getting arrested. In response, hundreds of Wisconsinites joined their singing brethren to stand up to the ridiculousness of the arrests and the broader anti-worker Walker agenda.
Learn more about the Solidarity Singalong and read more intrepid reporting on the protests from John Nichols.
The fast food strikers
On August 29, fast food workers in 58 (!!!) cities went on strike for better wages and a voice at the workplace. Learn more from Josh Eidelson and check out some awesome strike photos on our Tumblr.
Walmart associates seeking respect
Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, pays low wages, inconsistent schedules, and little to-no health benefits. But across the country, Walmart workers are organizing primarily for respect at the workplace.
Learn more at ForRespect.org.
Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents
First, Gov. Tom Corbett cut over a billion dollars from public education in Pennsylvania. Then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and school officials demanded $133 million in concessions from school employees. Philadelphia teachers, students, and parents are marching, striking, and even fasting to call attention to their city’s school crisis.
Houston wage-earners fighting against theft
Houston workers are fed up with employers committing wage theft – not giving a last paycheck, making employees work after punching out, etc. – and are pushing the Houston City Council to pass a wage theft ordinance.
Learn more from the Down With Wage Theft campaign.
Washington, D.C. retail workers
The D.C. City Council passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) in July, which raised the minimum wage for big box retail workers to $12.50/hour. Walmart responded by freaking out and threatening to cancel construction of their D.C. stores. Mayor Vincent Gray has still not made up his mind about whether to cave to Walmart’s wishes or stand up for D.C. retail workers at stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target.
Learn more about the LRAA and D.C. retail workers.
Albuquerque minimum wage workers
In the 2012 election, Albuquerque voters passed a minimum wage increase with 66 percent of the vote. But in 2013, Albuquerque’s Republican Mayor Richard Berry and members of his city council refused to enforce the new law.
No joke, they are actually telling workers who make as little as $4 or $5 an hour to hire private lawyers to sue their employers. That’s their solution.
Needless to say, Albuquerque workers aren’t taking this lying down. Working America and allies have launched a “Got Your Raise?” campaign to pressure city officials and educate workers about their rights. Learn more about the situation in Albuquerque or click here if you prefer your news in “Breaking Bad” form.
Concert tour dancers and choreographers
Last year, music video performers won a groundbreaking union contract after, establishing workplace standards for the industry after decades of advocacy.
Now, the Dancers’ Alliance and SAG-AFTRA are launching #theUNIONIZEtour to ensure that performers on concert tours have workplace protections, access to affordable health care, and a fair shot at gigs.
Watch the video above and learn more here.
LGBT workers in 29 states
Thanks to the activists who came before us, we have federal laws saying that you can’t be fired for being old, female, pregnant, or disabled (yay!). Unfortunately, in 29 states, there are no such protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender workers. That’s why workers’ rights and LGBT groups are organizing to pass a strong Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Learn more from Pride at Work.
Transgender workers in 33 states
Add Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York to the map above. Pride at Work has great information on this too.
Millions of domestic workers, mostly women, are employed by households and businesses across the country. Most of them have little to no worker protections – no minimum wage, overtime pay no nothing.
State by state, domestic workers and allies have worked to pass “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights” to establish basic protections. Ai-Jen Poo, founder and director of theNational Domestic Workers Alliance (and Working America board member #plug) toldThe Nation that President Obama might soon bring domestic workers under the protections of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which would be “one of the most significant victories for low-wage workers of this administration.”
Learn more about the Ai-Jen and the NDWA.
Mississippi auto workers
Auto workers at Nissan in Mississippi have been trying to exercise their basic right to form a union, but are getting blocked by the company. Lethal Weapon/workers’ rights star Danny Glover has been active in calling attention to the situation. Not only that, but Nissan workers in Brazil, France, and South Africa have expressed solidarity. Learn more at DoBetterNissan.org.
Danny Glover: He’s not too old for this. #LethalWeaponJoke
Solidarity in Brazil.
No big deal, it’s just Common. (!!!)
Finally: 11 million undocumented workers and their families
Establishing a path to citizenship isn’t just about immigration. It’s about bringing millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows, where they are currently vulnerable to every employer abuse imaginable.
Learn more about the connection between workers’ rights and immigrant rights here.
What did we leave out?
There’s a lot more going on that we didn’t cover. Feel free to keep the list going in the comments below, and visit WorkingAmerica.org for more information on how you can get involved.
Respoted from BuzzFeed
Tags: Albuquerque, auto workers, dancers' alliance, Education, fast food, Health Care, houston, Jobs, Labor Day, lgbt, Michael Nutter, minimum wage, mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pat McCrory, Philadelphia, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Texas, Tom Corbett, wage theft, Walmart, Wisconsin
The North Carolina legislature isn’t in session. But outside the capital of Raleigh, the Moral Monday movement continues unabated. Thousands turned out to voice their opposition to the extremist policies set forth by Gov. Pat McCrory and his allies in the legislature, from voter suppression to a reactionary tax plan to his treatment of public school teachers.
The three protests spanned the state: Charlotte, the biggest city; Burnsville, in the west closer to the Kentucky border; and Manteo, on the eastern coast.
Meanwhile, the Gov. McCrory’s backwards agenda is having an effect on his poll numbers. Public Policy Polling, the most accurate pollster in the 2012 election, found that only 39 percent approve of McCrory, while 51 percent disapprove. The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) is doing even worse, with only 24 percent approval. Half of voters, including 21 percent of Republicans, say the NCGA is making their state a national embarrassment.
Here are some incredible images from yesterday’s three-city Moral Monday rally. Thanks to all who tweeted, Tumbl’d, and otherwise shared their photos with the world.
Tags: Education, Jobs, moral monday, North Carolina, taxes, voting rights
The following is a post from Maine Rep. Diane Russell
The most memorable moment I have in my political life, by far, is leaving the Maine House in tears, stunned that the majority party had repealed four decades of Election Day Registration – all so they could win elections. It was the moment when I truly questioned whether our democracy would survive, or whether people were even listening.
We had been blindsided by the sudden and unexpected onslaught of anti-voter rhetoric. OpEds and FAQ sheets circulated faster than we could imagine. Those of us fighting the bill in the Legislature were outmaneuvered even when we exposed the hypocrisy and even lies that were being put before us. For every legislative aid in Maine, there are about ten to twelve lawmakers – so how was such a coordinated push even possible? We couldn’t catch up, let alone respond.
Thankfully, the people were listening. In fact, it was the people of Maine who restored my faith in our future. One by one, they picked up petitions and in under a month had collected enough signatures to put the question to the ballot. On Election Day, 60 percent of Mainers resoundingly voted to protect the voting rights for themselves, their neighbors and even students.
But where did this even come from? This was four decades of sacred ground, upended overnight with a well-coordinated legislative and public relations offensive.
The source, it turns out, was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). While our registration laws were under attack in Maine, a chorus of cries began to erupt from across the country as newly red states pushed restrictive voter ID bills effectively disenfranchising voters. At one point, the Brennan Center estimated 5 million people would be left behind under the new laws. It was only when Ari Berman outlined what was happening in his Rolling Stone article, “The GOP War on Voting,” did the tide finally begin to change – and the truth finally get told.
We now know, of course, that it’s not just voter rights that ALEC had set its sights on. They were pushing the castle doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws; rollbacks to environmental protections; opposition to women’s rights; anti-worker legislation and the list goes on. They worked with the GOP to effectively gut Maine’s model public campaign financing laws – enacted by the people through referendum – that open doors for good people to run for office, devoid of the potential for quid-pro-quo donations. Citizens are again picking up pens to put Clean Elections back on the ballot and to restore it.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, people and companies began piecing together the connection between castle doctrines and voter suppression – and the blatant racial bias inherent in both. Under unprecedented pressure from the public, companies began canceling their ALEC memberships. ALEC, itself, even dismembered its notorious task force that tied public safety with voter laws, formerly chaired by the NRA. (Yes, the NRA actually chaired the committee that approved the vigilante and voter registration model bills.)
Flash forward a bit, and it turns out tech companies such as Yelp are now partnering with ALEC. Let’s set aside the intelligence of climbing on board the Titanic after even the rats have left, and analyze their rationale for a moment.
Yelp, a highly popular online consumer review company, has stated that its support is related specifically to so-called SLAPP legislation which uses lawsuits to effectively undermine free speech. If consumers write negative reviews about a company and then are “slapped” with a frivolous lawsuit, they might become less inclined to write said reviews. In legal terms, this is known as “chilling speech.” On the point of protecting Free Speech in this one legal area, Yelp and ALEC agree. Working with the other side is just part of politics, right?
While this generally is true, the problem in this case is that it ignores all the other rights that are being stripped from people because of this organization. It ignores the fact that a young kid was gunned down because he was armed with a hoodie, some skittles and an iced tea. It ignores the fact that they are the architects of laws that suppress voting rights for minorities. It ignores their work to write and pass (with the Corrections Corporation of America) legislation like Arizona’s SB1070 that used racial profiling to target undocumented workers.
On a simply pragmatic note, it ignores the fact that countless other companies – who had previously aligned with ALEC to work on their own “very specific” issue areas – canceled their memberships as soon as they realized the host of other laws with which their name was now being associated. For a company like Yelp who has built its brand entirely on the consumer reviews of other brands, this concept should be rather self-evident.
It was pretty self-evident to Yelp’s members who, in just one day, posted more than 2,500 reviews (nearly all negative) about ALEC and Yelp’s new relationship – on the company’s own web platform. Further, @Yelp was peppered all day with outraged tweets from across the country.
If Yelp – and other tech companies – are serious about protecting First Amendment rights then I’m all in and will commit to working with them to do just that. However, there are better, more ethical means to accomplish this goal than joining an organization who helped lay a foundation for the “he was armed with Skittles” defense.
The reviews are in; it’s time for Yelp to end its relationship with ALEC. Send a message now.
Reposted from DailyKos
Photo by Protect Maine Voting Rights on Facebook
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, Maine, voting rights, yelp
Ohio firm that supported Gov. Kasich’s political career won big tax credits. Coincidence?
How workers of different ages are getting along in the workplace.
Connecticut’s Gov. Malloy signs minimum wage increase into law.
Chicago cabbies fight for a fairer fare.
#Irony: ALEC commits voter fraud.
Out of 254 counties where food stamp recipients have increased, Romney won 213 of them.
Missouri shouldn’t follow Kansas down the road of decline.
Finally: Arizona Republicans who voted against disaster relief demand disaster relief.
Why is a Democratic senator attacking the U.S. Postal Service?
#MoralMonday: On education, NC has the most backward legislature in the country.
Big business interests and the Wall Street Journal look to crush worker centers.
8 ways privatization has brought pain and misery to American life.
The PA voter ID trial is over, and the law is now in one judge’s hands.
Six unions go on strike at Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Detroit emergency manager takes a break from decadent room service to denigrate union workers.
Finally: The success of Trader Joe’s shows that paying low wages is a choice, not a necessity.
The nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has declared Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the “Worst Governor in America.”
Even though he had fierce competition from fellow Republicans Tom Corbett and Susana Martinez, this is a choice CREW had no trouble making:
In the past he’s employed illegal tactics and abused his power to round up votes, but Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) didn’t have to break a sweat to win this contest. For racking up a record that has veered from unethical conduct to staggering incompetence, CREW’s voters awarded Gov. Walker the title of Worst Governor in America.
Gov. Walker had made his name in 2011 by ramming through unprecedented restrictions on the collective bargaining of public workers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
Gov. Walker also presided over illegal activity and wasteful spending at a public-private partnership that he and the state legislature created to promote economic development. Additionally, a long-running investigation into Gov. Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee County executive and his 2010 gubernatorial campaign resulted in criminal charges against several of his aides. CREW cited these scandals and others in naming Gov. Walker to the second edition of its Worst Governors in America report.
“Scandal and embarrassment seem to follow Gov. Walker wherever he goes,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Given his inability to competently handle the most basic responsibilities of his office and willingness to overstep his authority to help his donors, it’s no wonder CREW’s voters recognized him as a singularly terrible American governor.”
Currently, Scott Walker is under fire on multiple fronts. In June, Wisconsin was ranked 49th out of 50 in job creation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Over the past few weeks, dozens have been arrested in the Wisconsin state capitol for the simple act of singing, under new protest restrictions Walker’s administration put in place. Just yesterday, Walker shocked many of his former political allies by suggesting expanding his union-busting Act 10 to include police officers and firefighters as well.
All this, and Scott Walker is not-so-secretly laying the groundwork for a presidential run.
Read the full report.
Photo by GageSkidmore on Flickr
Tags: Jobs, Public Safety, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
15,000 union and non-union Michiganders gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing to express opposition to the so-called “right to work” bills being considered inside.
Those voices remained unheeded by the legislators inside. From the Lansing State Journal:
Within three hours today, House Republicans approved two bills that give right-to-work for both public and private employees, despite objections from Democratic lawmakers and thousands of protesters at the Capitol.
Unlike the similar situation with Ohio in 2011, Michigan legislators have subverted democracy and inserted an appropriation in that “right to work” cannot be repealed by referendum.
Or can it? The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent explains another option:
According to one good government group’s analysis of the state constitution, there exists the option of the “statutory initiative,” which would be forced by the collecting of signatures equal to at least eight percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.
Will unions and Michigan Democrats avail themselves of this option? Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the labor-funded Workers’ Voice, which played a big role in the Ohio and Wisconsin labor wars, tells me it’s being seriously considered. “The Michigan Constitution allows two other ways to let the people decide this issue on the ballot, and whether it’s one of those options or the 2014 Governor’s election itself, Michiganders will be heard loud and clear,” Vale says.
The anti-worker legislators and their well-monied donors may be cheering today’s events. But here are the facts: when the people of a state have the opportunity to vote on these anti-worker measures by referendum, or when they have the opportunity to hold politicians accountable, workers win.
We showed that in Ohio, when Senate Bill 5 was repealed by a 2-to-1 margin. We showed that in 2012 when Wall Street’s favorite presidential candidate Mitt Romney was defeated in a landslide, and Wall Street’s favorite Senator Scott Brown was removed from office by a similar margin. )Mitt Romney, by the way, endorsed a national “right to work” law.)
In Minnesota and Maine last year, Republicans tried to pass their own “right to work” bills in 2011. In the 2012 election, Republicans in those states lost both houses of the legislature. New Hampshire voters tossed out an incredible 115 Republican House members – flipping the chamber – and 6 State Senators in response to that state’s “right to work” push.
American voters, be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent, don’t support the ideological destruction of labor unions that is dogma among right-wing billionaires like Dick DeVos and David and Charles Koch. Above all, voters of all stripes want their leaders to take action on the issues they care about – jobs, health care, and education – instead of greedily consolidating their power and enacting political retribution on their opponents.
And when voters get the opportunity, they speak loudly and clearly against this kind of behavior. We will be doing what we can to ensure that Michigan voters get that chance.