With bipartisan House vote, Michigan is one step closer to Medicaid expansion.
Two GOP-sponsored labor bills would restrict workers’ rights, create zeroes of jobs!
The immigration mover and shaker you’ve never heard of.
Big shift at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Attention Sen. Blunt: Majority of Missourians support path to citizenship.
Seriously, Wells Fargo?
Finally: Remembering the beautiful life of an activist against Walmart.
The Huffington Post published 12 charts on rising inequality in America. They point out, among other things, that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of all Americans are now considered “poor” or “low-income.”
About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That’s up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.
Why? Lots of reasons. For one thing, wages have stagnated even as American workers get more productive. Between 1973 and 2011, productivity increased 80 percent while wages (median hourly compensation adjusted for inflation) increased only 10 percent.
From 2000 until today, we have become 23 percent more productive, while wages adjusted for inflation have stayed the same.
Not surprisingly, the stagnation of worker wages and the drop in median family income mirrors the decrease in workers represented by unions. When workers don’t have a way to advocate for better wages, more health benefits, and adequate time off to spend time with their families, employers have no reason to do anything but pay the least amount required. This is especially true of large companies with more than 100 workers, who employ 66 percent of low-wage workers.
These charts make you mad? Well, look at more of them.
After that, join Working America and become part of nation’s fastest growing organization for working families. It’s only with strength in numbers that we can create an economy that works for workers.
Tags: inequality, Jobs, minimum wage, wages
Teresa Weaver Pickard, a 42 year-old employee of the Sewon America auto parts plant in LaGrange, Georgia, passed away on Wednesday, May 29.
The autopsy could take three to four months due to a backlog of cases, according to Troup County Coroner Jeff Cook. But we do know that workers at the LaGrange Sewon plant work in extreme heat for hours on end. In the same week, several other workers passed out due to the heat.
According to an anonymous employee who spoke to the LaGrange Citizen, management keeps the air conditioning off in the break room to “discourage loitering.” It’s so hot in the break room, he says, that the candy in the vending machines melted.
“I heard that [Pickard] complained of chest pain several times before she was sent to the break room,” he also said. She was then sent to the front office, where she sat for three hours before an ambulance was called. The anonymous employee reported that he heard Pickard died on her way to the hospital.
Pickard’s tragic death is an all-too familiar story of how a combination of neglect, contempt, and apathy toward worker conditions can have terrible consequences.
In 2011, Georgia had 111 reported workplace fatalities, and nearly 79,000 workplace injuries and illnesses. Georgia is also a so-called “right to work” state, where the government bans fair share contracts and unions are sapped of resources. The Sewon plant is one of many foreign-owned manufacturing plants across the South that offer almost exclusively non-union, low-wage work.
Thankfully, OSHA has launched an investigation of Pickard’s death. But there are only 50 workplace safety and health inspectors in Georgia, and it would take OSHA 146 years to inspect each workplace once, according to the AFL-CIO.
But even at this exact Sewon plant, this wasn’t the first worker fatality. At the same plant in 2010, a worker fell to his death. Last year, two workers were injured in a crane accident.
OSHA fined the plant in 2010, but management’s behavior did not change. “It’s a really hostile environment,” said the anonymous worker, “I really believe they [management] have contempt for their workers.”
“When my hubby worked at there 2-3 years ago he would always tell me how hot it was even back then, and then the uniform was long sleeve shirts,” wrote LaGrange Citizen reader Amanda Dawn Breazeal, “He said they had air and fans but they rarely to never turned them on…When my hubby broke his finger, he asked to go to the hospital and they told him no!”
The story of this particular plant is one of many, but there is hope. If this story sounds familiar, visit FixMyJob.com and learn how you can improve your workplace.
Tags: Georgia, organizing, Right to Work, Rights At Work, union
The Great Gatsby Curve: visualizing the effects of inequality.
12 charts that show the scale of inequality in the U.S.
A coalition of businesses add their voice to the campaign for earned sick days.
On the food stamps fight: “The US Congress has an answer to the growth in poverty: force more people to struggle.”
Why North Carolina is the new Wisconsin.
Bill Clinton talks about the need for public-private partnerships.
New small business coalition formed to promote paid sick leave.
Finally: Want to boycott bad companies? There’s an app for that.
Ohio’s lieutenant governor Mary Taylor is deceiving people about Obamacare.
More signs Obamacare implementation will go smoothly.
New York workers at Dishes catering company organize for a better workplace.
Janitors at Minnesota Target stores prepare to strike.
Ugh. Philadelphia is closing schools, building jails, and killing good jobs.
The unconscionable food stamp cuts headed through Congress.
Here’s an idea: New York sushi restaurant has a solution for low tipped wages.
Missouri Gov. Nixon explains his tax bill veto, works to prevent override.
Finally: Massachusetts sets out to raise their state minimum wage.
The most dishonest words in American politics: “right to work.”
Long-term unemployment is still a big problem.
Scott Walker is number one! At killing jobs.
High wages make Costco one of the happiest companies in the world.
Victory for Philadelphia firefighters.
Retired generals (!) promote pre-K in Ohio.
“Right to work” law hurting, not helping Indiana’s economy.
Finally: 5 ways “equal pay for equal work” is not yet a reality.
Scott Walker’s denial of Medicaid coverage part of a pattern of some states abandoning their citizens.
Related: Why Florida businesses want Medicaid expansion.
The sad story of “recovery”: More wealth, in fewer hands.
Walmart protestors take their pro-worker campaign to the heart of Walmart country in Arkansas.
Kenneth Quinnell rounds up workers’ rights battles around the country.
The “grand bargain,” aka austerity, loses a key DC voice.
NAACP: We need a functioning NLRB to stop racial discrimination at work.
Massachusetts Senate debate recap: “Gomez’s answers might as well have been in Finnish.”
Finally: Columbus, Ohio casino employees vote to unionize.
Down with big government, cry Michigan Republicans!
Except when it comes to workers’ rights.
Yesterday the Michigan Senate voted 25-13 to pass a sick leave “preemption bill,” SB 173, which bans cities and towns from passing their own laws regarding earned sick leave. 25 Republicans voted in favor, while all 12 Democrats and one Republican (Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights) voted against.
Now, this might seem like a strange law for Michigan to pass, since no city or town in Michigan has a sick leave ordinance on the books, and no city or town in Michigan is currently considering such an ordinance.
But this isn’t about Michigan. This is about ALEC and its nationwide efforts to quash the momentum behind paid sick days, using politicians like bill sponsor Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids) merely as delivery systems.
This is a law modeled after one Gov. Scott Walker passed in Wisconsin in May 2011, which overrode the will of Milwaukee voters who had overwhelmingly passed a paid sick days ordinance three years earlier.
At the ALEC national conference in 2011, attendees were given copies of Walker’s paid sick days preemption law. As PRWatch blogger Brendan Fischer describes, legislators were also handed a “target list” and “a map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member the National Restaurant Association.”
This law keeping cities and towns from making their own decisions on this issue makes no sense for Michigan. Michigan just happens to be on a list of boxes for ALEC to check, so they can continue a status quo where workers show up to work sick, or get fired for taking care of a sick child, simply because they have no other financial option.
Having passed the Senate, SB 173 is now on a fast track through the House. Seems like legislators can be super efficient when they want to restrict workers’ rights, and when ALEC has already written out a bill for them.
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, earned sick days, Health Care, Jobs, Michigan, Paid Sick Days, republicans, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
Florida moms urge Gov. Rick Scott to veto ALEC-backed sick days preemption bill.
Meet your newest member of Congress, Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri’s 8th district.
Why the Democrats still need working class voters.
Let’s be infrastructure hawks, not deficit hawks.
GOP, be like these guys: Montana Republicans push for more transparency in politics.
Maine Senate passes moratorium on virtual schools.
On Teach for America alums and the next wave of education privatization
Finally: Texas redistricting fight reminds us that we still need the Voting Rights Act.
Sorry, Michelle Rhee: New study shows schools perform based on broad economic factors, not just teacher performance.
Penny Pritzker has stepped down from the board of Hyatt hotels. Why not replace her with an actual hotel worker?
Fewer people in unions = lower wages = higher corporate profits.
So-called “right to work” bill tabled in Ohio…for now.
A new database of “dark money” in politics.
We still need principal reduction for homeowners.
Finally: In an embarrassing PR scandal, Swiffer forgets who Rosie the Riveter was.