On Nov. 5, the voters of SeaTac, a small suburban community near Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., voted to provide workers for the town’s larger airport-related businesses a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 63% higher than the state’s current minimum wage of $9.19. (Although the measure passed, there may be a recount.) Here are seven ways the new measure would change the lives of the workers detailed in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal:
1. Allow employees to live closer to where they work and cut down on commute times. “I wouldn’t have to take a two-hour commute,” said Eric Frank, a baggage handler who lives an hour away. With the pay increase, workers would be able to afford housing closer to the job.
2. Give employees with families more time with their loved ones. The raise would allow some workers, like Chris Smith, to take care of their families on one salary and not have to work two jobs, freeing up their schedules so they can spend more time with family.
3. Allow some employees who don’t get much time off to actually have weekends. “My weekend is like a sale at the Bon Marché—one day only,” Smith said.
4. Decrease working families’ reliance on community food banks to provide for their families. The Rev. Jan Bolerjack, pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, said she regularly sees airport workers in uniform using her church’s food banks. “They get off of work and then have to come wait in the rain or cold or worse…just so they can put food on the table,” she said.
5. Give part-time workers the opportunity to get more hours. The law requires businesses to offer more hours to part-time workers before bringing in new part-time workers when more shifts become available.
6. Allow sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs. The law requires the businesses to provide up to 6.5 days a year of paid sick leave to employees who work full-time.
7. Protect airport travelers from illnesses by allowing sick workers to stay home.
Profitable companies such as Alaska Airlines are supporting a lawsuit to overturn the law and the will of the people and are seeking a recount on the measure, which passed by 77 votes.
Photo by Yes! For SeaTac on Facebook
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Jobs, minimum wage, Rights At Work, seatac, washington
Almost a third of bank tellers in the U.S. rely on some sort of public assistance.
ALEC sought a loyalty oath from member legislators.
Related: How ALEC misled the press, the public, and the IRS.
Charles P. Pierce: “Reporters no longer have any excuse to treat ALEC and its work product as anything more than corporate-funded propaganda…”
More: ALEC lawmaker in Missouri taking advantage of Boeing contract to push “right to work.”
State legislators across the country are pushing crackdowns on outsourcing.
Economist Dean Baker on the trade policy behind Walmart’s low wages.
Finally: Companies that pay high tax rates create more jobs than tax evaders.
Extremist pro-corporate Republicans in Missouri are getting an early start on attacking the rights of working families by pre-filing a “right to work” for less bill for the 2014 legislative session. While there undoubtedly will be similar attacks in other states in 2014, Missouri is the first state to take formal steps to strip working families of their rights.
This isn’t the first time that “right to work” legislation very similar to model bills created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been proposed in the state—similar legislation was proposed earlier this year and in 2011. Peter Kinder, the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, spoke in favor of the legislation at an ALEC conference in August.
The We Are Missouri coalition is leading the opposition to the legislation. Through a press release, several members of the coalition explained why the legislation was wrong for Missouri.
Mike Louis, secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO:
Missouri’s elected leaders should work together to create jobs here in our state. While it isn’t a surprise that extremist politicians would instead file a ‘right to work’ bill on the first day of session, it is shameful that they would make this unnecessary and confusing bill their first priority for 2014. It is time for our elected officials to work together to create good jobs and safe work places instead of trying to micromanage relationships between businesses and their employees.
Bobby Dicken, a utility line crew foreman from Poplar Bluff:
It is simple—“right to work” bills are wrong for Missouri. It’s a corporate power grab that’s in the best interests of CEOs—not our state. Studies have shown that ‘right to work’ means less jobs, lower wages and more dangerous workplaces. I’m disappointed that [Southeast Missouri] area state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger and Speaker Tim Jones seem to be more concerned with doing the bidding of special interest groups like ALEC instead of helping middle-class Missouri families.
Vicki Hurt, who works for the Missouri Children’s Division in Branson:
This bill won’t create a single job. These unnecessary attacks on working people hurt our middle-class families, harm our public schools and put our safety at risk. ‘Right to work’ is a divisive partisan political issue meant to punish labor unions that puts our everyday heroes in danger.
Tell Missouri legislators: we need more jobs, not fewer rights.
Tags: aflcio, Missouri, paycheck deception, Right to Work, Rights At Work
In a preliminary vote expected to mirror the final vote early next year, the D.C. Councilvoted unanimously to support a plan to raise the minimum wage in the District of Columbia to $11.50. A final vote must still take place, but no member has expressed any intention to vote differently and Mayor Vincent Gray (D) has suggested he is willing to sign the bill, in contrast to his recent veto of a measure to require big-box retailers like Walmart to pay a living wage. The D.C. Council appears to have the votes to override an unlikely veto, something they fell one vote short of on the big-box store bill.
The vote comes on the heels of two Maryland suburbs minimum wage increase votes, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, that also voted to raise their minimum wages to $11.50. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has indicated he will sign the bill into law. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has expressed opposition to a minimum wage increase and it is unclear he will sign the bill into law. The D.C. wage increase would be phased in a year earlier than the counties, taking full effect by 2016. Not only would the legislation increase the wage from its current rate of $8.25, which is a dollar higher than the national minimum wage, it would index the wage to inflation. Washington, D.C., is set to become one of the cities with the highest minimum wages in the country.
The council also voted unanimously to require employers to provide five paid sick days to tipped workers, who had been exempt from paid sick days rules. The change will protect both workers and customers, who will be less likely to be exposed to illnesses.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, DC, maryland, minimum wage, Paid Sick Days, washington dc
Today, workers from Walmart stores across the country joined with allies to call upon the company with $17 billion in annual profits to pay its full-time workers a minimum of $25,000 a year and for the company to stop punishing workers who stand up for their rights. Rallies were held at more than 1,500 Walmart locations. Working families in nine major cities planned civil disobedience as part of the protests, and arrests were made in numerous cities, including Alexandria, Va., Dallas, Tex., California, and Illinois. Learn more about the action and why its important to stand with Walmart workers at BlackFridayProtests.org.
Text BLACK to 235246 to support the Walmart associates speaking up for their rights. Standard data and message rates may apply.
Below are Twitter highlights from the actions. The Walmart actions can be followed on Twitter at #WalmartStrikers.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: black friday, Jobs, minimum wage, Rights At Work, Walmart
As we reflect on the actions all over the country by Walmart associates on Black Friday and consider the fact that people are working harder than ever and are still losing economic ground, we’re reminded that the federal minimum wage is not enough.
In a joint Op-Ed for CNN, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and National Employment Law Project Executive Director Christine Owens remind us that in the past 15 years, all wage increases have gone to the wealthiest 10%.
Trumka and Owens write:
If the minimum wage had just kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.77 an hour today instead of $7.25. For tipped workers, the rate’s been stuck at a scandalous $2.13 for 20 years.
Congress is considering a proposal, called the Fair Minimum Wage Act, from Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California, supported by President Barack Obama. The act would raise the minimum wage over two years to $10.10 an hour and let it grow with inflation.
The Senate is expected to consider the proposal the week after Thanksgiving.
If the minimum wage had kept up with the growth of workers’ productivity, it would be $18.67. And if it had matched the wage growth of the wealthiest 1%, it would be more than $28.
Read the rest of $7.25 an Hour Is Not a Living Wage.
Click here to call your senators today, asking them to vote “Yes” on a motion to proceed on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.
In case you missed it last week, The New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse covered the low-wage retail and service economy and the devastating effects on America’s working families.
Read: On Register’s Other Side, Little to Spend.
Watch the video above of fast-food workers in Greensboro, N.C., holding a surprise revival service at a Church’s Chicken to support the workers and the fight for a fair wage.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: fast food, Jobs, minimum wage, North Carolina, restaurant
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Stephen Blaire, Catholic bishop of Stockton and a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ domestic policy committee, wrote the following Op-Ed, which appeared in the Sacramento Bee last week.
Unions and Catholic leaders have long found common cause in advocating for policies that defend the dignity of workers and protect immigrant families. Over the past several years, we have worked together to win congressional approval of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Although such legislation has passed the U.S. Senate in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, the U.S. House of Representatives is now delaying consideration of either the Senate bill or its own version of reform.
While we commend President Barack Obama’s strong commitment to humane and responsible reform, we now stand together again to urge him to halt the deportations of immigrants who would achieve legal status and eventual citizenship under the Senate bill. It is inconsistent to advocate on behalf of immigrants and their families on one hand—including giving them an opportunity for citizenship—and devastate and separate their families through enforcement actions on the other.
A philosophically diverse coalition of business, faith and labor leaders has joined Obama in a clear call for making urgent legislative changes to a broken system, and we remain committed to achieving passage of comprehensive immigration reform. We must not allow extreme positions outside the American mainstream to define the debate and hinder the achievement of the common good, which calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
Despite our optimism that Congress will eventually do the right thing, we remain deeply troubled that the number of undocumented immigrants deported since Obama took office five years ago will soon surpass 2 million people. This represents a moral and political failure. Simply put, tearing apart tens of thousands of children from parents is morally unacceptable.
We are a nation of laws, but also a nation guided by enduring principles and the practical sense to fix what is broken. A strictly punitive approach to immigration is an imprudent and impractical response that ignores the root causes driving migration, such as trade policies that benefit multinational corporations over workers. Global poverty and unstable governments all contribute to complex challenges that will not be solved by higher walls or tough rhetoric.
Moreover, the economic case for an immigration overhaul is strong. Despite the ugly myths and fear stoked by anti-immigrant groups, the fact is that comprehensive reform will be good for America’s workers, families and our economy.
Most immigrants work hard, pay taxes and contribute to our communities. But in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago alone, low-wage workers in immigrant-heavy industries lose about $56 million per week in wage theft from unscrupulous employers. The best defense against workplace exploitation is bringing immigrants out of the shadows.
In this regard, we support immigration policies that offer immigrant workers a fair and just path to citizenship, so that their human rights are protected and the wages for all workers rise.
The low wages and fear that trap many immigrants and U.S. citizens in dead-end jobs have only gotten worse with declining union membership and growing income inequality. Fixing our broken immigration system will help all workers, strengthen a shrinking middle class and set our nation on a more stable path to compete in a diverse global economy. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that immigration reform with a path to citizenship would generate an additional $1.5 trillion to the economy over the next decade.
It’s time to reject false choices and inconsistent and immoral enforcement policies. Let’s secure our borders at the same time that we provide an earned path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. We can protect both American-born workers and aspiring Americans by fixing an immigration system that encourages manipulation and abuse by employers. The status quo is unacceptable.
As labor and faith leaders, we urge all people of good will not to rest until the fight for a fair and just immigration system is won.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Barack Obama, deportation, immigration, Richard Trumka, Sacramento
Over 100 arrested in nationwide Black Friday protests.
Former Walmart executive leads smear campaign against Black Friday protesters.
How the Walton family used tax loopholes to preserve their massive fortune.
Organizing victory! After 8 year fight, NYU graduate students join UAW.
Occupy isn’t the only movement: an essay by Biola Jeje.
Wall Street is making zillions in fees from handling New York City’s public pensions.
Missouri’s education commissioner reveals ties to anti-public education billionaire.
Health care, cancer, culture: Will women revolt against Republicans in 2014?
Finally: Who wants to raise the minimum wage? A majority of Republicans, Independents, moderates, and all age brackets.
Walmart associates all over the United States are taking big risks for speaking up about their work environment and going on strike. Many have been fired, and while it is illegal to fire workers for asking for a voice on the job, sometimes these lawsuits can take years.
That’s why Making Change at Walmart is taking steps to empower the Walmart associates who were fired by training them to become organizers so they can continue to fight for change for their former co-workers. From Making Change:
Instead of the problem going away for Walmart when they fire a worker, what if that worker could become an organizer? What if instead of being unemployed, they could use all of their work hours talking to their co-workers about the importance of changing Walmart?
You can stand in solidarity with these workers by donating to sponsor one of them today, so they can keep organizing for good jobs at Walmart.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: black friday, Rights At Work, Walmart