Yes, You’re Allowed to Blame Obamacare for This: Punching In

So really, it’s just the big businesses who don’t like it

Poll finds that 61 percent of small business owners favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10. (Full poll results here).

Undoing Walker’s damage

Milwaukee City Council passes $10.10 living wage ordinance for all city employees and employees paid under city contracts.

Go on those late-night grocery runs guilt-free

16,000 Kroger workers in Ohio reach tentative new contract with better health benefits and wages.

You can blame Obamacare for that check in your mailbox

ACA’s “medical loss ratio” provision, which requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium costs on care, has resulted in nearly $2 billion in rebates (so far).

What The Today Show Totally Missed With Its Coverage of Michael Moore’s Wealth

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Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, the director of films like Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine, and his wife Kathleen Glynn are separating after 22 years. The proceedings have revealed to the public the extent of Michael Moore’s finances, including a large mansion in Michigan.

This morning, The Today Show seized on this news to portray Moore as a hypocrite: how could someone with a “blue collar” image, they ask, have this much money?

Let’s be absolutely clear: that question is ridiculous.

First of all, someone with a blue collar upbringing can most certainly attain great wealth over the course of their life and still maintain the composure, sensibility, and ideals they were raised with. That’s common sense. It’s called economic mobility, and it is something that Americans have felt great pride in throughout our history.

But let’s make something else abundantly clear: Michael Moore and other critics of our economic system do not oppose wealth.

Seriously. This has been a libel against all economic progressives, displayed prominently during the 2012 election when Mitt Romney and others accused President Obama of opposing the very idea of wealth and success (thus the obsession with taking “you didn’t build that” out of context). It’s the insult hurled at anyone who criticizes big money in politics: we are told that we are “jealous” of the Koch Brothers’ massive wealth, because why else would we say mean things about them?

And The Today Show bought completely into this frame, calling Moore’s politics “contradictory” with his big house and his full bank account.

But it’s not contradictory, because Michael Moore doesn’t oppose wealth. Senator Elizabeth Warren, another target of these claims, doesn’t oppose wealth. The millions of Working America members who take action to address income inequality don’t oppose wealth, pursuing wealth, or accruing wealth.

What we oppose, and will continue to fight against, is the following:

The use of massive wealth to rig our democracy in your favor. We respect the right of Charles and David Koch to grow their business, to hire workers and put out a product. But in addition to running a business, they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists, think tanks, and a constellation of political organizations to insure their company’s success at the expense of others.

For instance, there’s nothing “free market” about the Kochs’ efforts to tax consumers of solar energy in an effort to keep them addicted to the petroleum they produce. If Apple lobbied for a law that would add extra taxes for Android users, there would be an enormous outcry. This isn’t different.

The use of massive wealth to destroy the ladder of economic mobility that helped create that wealth in the first place. Anyone who runs a business has the right to manage their workforce as they see fit, within the bounds of the law. But businessmen like the Koch Brothers, Art Pope, Rex Sinquefield, and Dick DeVos don’t stop there. Through campaign donations, TV advertisements, lobbyists, and other tactics, they have tried (and often succeeded) in changing laws that protect workers’ rights, wages, and retirement. The DeVos family’s near single-handed funding of the “right to work” effort in Michigan is exhibit A.

Knocking rungs off of the ladder of economic mobility doesn’t create wealth, it destroys it.

The use of massive wealth to deceive consumers. Elizabeth Warren didn’t set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) because of a hate of Wall Street and the people who work there. Yet, Wall Street banks spent a fortune lobbying against the creation of the CFPB, and they continue to make weakening the agency and broader Wall Street reform a key priority.

Warren understood that when information was presented clearly to consumers–without tricks, traps, and hidden fees–they would be better able to select the products that worked for them. That understanding would allow Wall Street companies to compete on a level playing field, with the best plans and products winning. If that’s not capitalism, what is?

So can Michael Moore criticize inequality while enjoying economic success? Absolutely. Moore just happens to be one of those wealthy people who doesn’t feel the need to use his wealth to destroy others’ ability to become wealthy as well.

That’s not being contradictory, that’s being decent.

Text JOBS to 30644 to join Working America’s fight for fair wages and corporate accountability.

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Could Michigan Raise Its Minimum Wage Twice In One Year? Punching In

Michigan wage fight goes to the courts

Michigan Republicans raised the minimum wage in order to preempt a ballot initiative, but a court will decide if raising the wage appears on the November ballot.

The Art of buying a state government

Mainstream media finally recognizes the heinous influence of Art Pope, North Carolina’s own Koch-style mega-donor.

Whirlwind of accusations at Ohio charter school

It’s a mess: school officials implicated in alleged test-tampering and other misconduct at Columbus charter schools, and teachers could be disciplined for reporting it.

Organizing: Eat fresh!

Workers at Subway franchise in New Jersey vote to join RWDSU. There are a lot of Subway stores, who wants to be next?

Hope After Hobby Lobby, Union Uncovers Teen Working On Construction Site: Punching In

Worker exploitation takes a turn for the worst

A boy, around age 13, was found performing dangerous work on a school construction site.

Lobby for birth control

As early as Tuesday, Senate Democrats are hoping to overturn the Hobby Lobby verdict by introducing a new piece of legislation that requires for-profit businesses to cover birth control for workers.

In case you were planning on going

It looks like the GOP National Convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, a crucial state for the 2016 election. Here’s why that might be awkward for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The story you need to read

Something about this woman’s trip to pick up food stamps made it a little different.

Under Pressure, Chicago Task Force Recommends $13 Minimum Wage

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The task force assembled by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to study raising the city’s minimum wage reached a final recommendation Monday: $13 an hour by 2018. Chicago’s minimum wage is currently $8.25.

The group also recommended raising raising the tipped minimum wage to $5.95 over two years, and pegging both wages to inflation. More importantly, they suggested the Chicago City Council not take any action before November, when Illinois voters will consider an advisory referendum raising the wage statewide to $10.

The Minimum Wage Working Group passed the plan 13-3, with representatives from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Retail Merchants Association, and the Illinois Restaurant Association dissenting.

The broad Fight for 15 coalition has been pushing Chicago elected officials to establish a $15 an hour living wage and right to organize without retaliation. “[Mayor Emanuel says] America is due for a pay raise” they tweeted, “absolutely. We need $15 now, not $13 in 2018.”

Photo by Fightfor15 on Instagram

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These Two Studies Turn Wall Street’s Economic Argument On Its Head

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Two studies released in the past few weeks are busting long-held myths about what makes our economy grow.

The first came in June from three professors: Michael J. Cooper of the University of Utah, Huseyin Gulen of Purdue, and P. Raghavendra Rau of the University of Cambridge. They looked at the long-term performance of 1,500 businesses and found that higher CEO pay has a negative effect on a company’s performance.

Using data from 1994 to 2013, the professors saw that companies in the top 10 percent of CEO pay produced “negative abnormal returns” (lower shareholder returns than other firms in their industry) or around -8 percent over three years. The higher the pay got, the more pronounced the effect: the top 5 percent of highest paid CEOs steered their companies to a 15 percent worse performance.

Why were these companies doing worse?

In a word, overconfidenceCEOs who get paid huge amounts tend to think less critically about their decisions. “They ignore dis-confirming information and just think that they’re right,” says Cooper. That tends to result in over-investing—investing too much and investing in bad projects that don’t yield positive returns for investors.”

The second came this week from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which compared employment growth between states and found that those states that raised their minimum wage levels experienced higher growth than those that didn’t.

Of the 13 states where the minimum wage went up on January 1, 2014 (either because of legislative action, referendum, or cost-of-living adjustments), all but one had positive employment growth, and nine of them had growth higher than the median. “The average change in employment for the 13 states that increased their minimum wage is +0.99% while the remaining states have an average employment change of +0.68%,” wrote CEPR.

“While this kind of simple exercise can’t establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases,” writes Ben Wolcott of CEPR.

In other words, it doesn’t prove raising the minimum wage always creates a certain number of jobs within 6 months, but it does add to the pile of evidence showing that raising the minimum wage doesn’t negatively affect employment.

And CEPR isn’t the only group that reached these conclusions. An analysis by banking giant Goldman Sachs (!) also found the states that raised their minimum wages doing better than those that didn’t.

Taken together, these studies back up what working people already know:  higher wages add to a virtuous cycle that benefits both workers and businesses, and that exorbitant CEO pay does nothing for the broader economy other than line the pockets of an increasingly small and powerful group of uber-wealthy individuals.

Text RAISE to 30644 to join Working America’s fight for fair wages.

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Higher Wages Lead to Better Milkshakes, Burritos: Punching In

This story will make you hungry, for both milkshakes and justice

Boloco and Shake Shack pay high wages and are seeing enormous benefits.

Thanks for your service! Love, Congress

300,000 veterans have lost unemployment insurance because of Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans’ inaction.

Respect the bump

The next Supreme Court decision on workers’ rights is about pregnant workers.

“This is citizen-driven policy”

Minimum wage increase headed for the November ballot in Nebraska.

Scott Walker Strongly Opposes Raising The Minimum Wage, So He Can’t Be Pleased About This

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, infamous across the country for his anti-union policies, is also an opponent of raising the minimum wage.

Unfortunately for him, he will share the November ballot with a minimum wage referendum in four of Wisconsin’s largest counties: Dane (home of Madison), Eau Claire, Kenosha, and Milwaukee (where Walker was once County Executive).

Due to a 2005 law, individual municipal units like cities and counties in Wisconsin can’t enact their own wage laws. (Thanks to one of Walker’s first acts as governor, the same applies to paid sick days laws). But counties can still put non-binding “advisory” wage-related referenda on the ballot. Dane, Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Eau Claire counties will all ask voters if they recommend raising the minimum wage to $10.10.

Despite staunch opposition from Gov. Walker and his legislative allies, an incredible 76 percent of Wisconsinites support raising the minimum wage above the current $7.25. To survive a tough race against businesswoman Mary Burke, who supports raising the wage, Walker might have to shift his position. “We do think that ultimately Gov. Walker’s position is going to need to evolve or he’s going to be negatively impacted by his position because it’s out of step with the majority of voters,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison of Wisconsin Jobs Now.

Wisconsin activists aren’t done, though. They also submitted signatures to get minimum wage increases on the ballot in Neenah and Menasha.

Photo by @WisconsinJobsNow on Twitter

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288,000 Jobs Added In June, Gov. McCrory Shows His True Colors: Punching In

Tim Howard saved the labor market (probably)

Better than expected jobs report shows 288,000 jobs added in June.

Race to the finish in Michigan

Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer are tied in new Michigan poll.

Whose side is he on?

North Carolina’s Gov. McCrory to give keynote address at major ALEC meeting.

L.A. Workers vs. Thievery

Los Angeles City Council will pursue wage theft ordinance.

Take A Vacation Already, America: Punching In

Americans lead the world in not taking vacation days

Vacation-phobic Americans donate a million years of work every year.

The District of Higher Wage-ia

The minimum wage in Washington, D.C. will go up to $9.50 today, on its way to $11.50 by 2016.

Hint: It rhymes with Koch Brothers

Who helped Harris v. Quinn get to the Supreme Court? You will be really, really not surprised when you find our.

Congress to 11 million people: we’re just not that into you

Since Congress is permanently napping or something, President Obama is taking executive action on immigration. Here are 4 things he can do on his own.