Just two weeks after voters in New Jersey and SeaTac, Washington voted to raise the minimum wage, a Massachusetts coalition to enact a similar ballot measure announced a major milestone.
Raise Up Massachusetts announced Monday that over 10 weeks, they have collected approximately 269,059 signatures to get a statewide minimum wage increase and an earned sick time on the 2014 ballot.
Only 68,911 verified signatures are required.
“The numbers show just how many Massachuetts voters stand with families who need a higher minimum wage and earned sick time,” said SEIU Local 509 President Susan Sousignant.
Kim Rivera, an activist from Springfield, has collected 853 signatures toward the goal. “When I explain that the minimum wage is only $8 an hour and almost one million workers in Massachusetts can’t earn a single day of sick time, people were eager to sign.”
If passed, the measures would do three things: a.) increase the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour over two years; b.) index future increases to inflation; and c.) allow all workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year.
Similar efforts are underway in Idaho, Alaska, and South Dakota.
Raising the minimum wage isn’t just good policy, it could also be good politics. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center found that overall voter turnout is 7 to 9 percent higher in midterm elections when wage initiatives are on the ballot.
These initiatives also often cross party lines. In New Jersey two weeks ago, voters voted overwhelmingly to raise the minimum wage even while many also voted to reelect Gov. Chris Christie, who himself vetoed a minimum wage increase earlier this year.
In SeaTac, Washington, a proposition to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is leading by only 46 votes.
Photo by Raise Up Massachusetts on Facebook
Tags: alaska, idaho, Massachusetts, minimum wage, New Jersey, seatac, South Dakota
Yesterday, working families saw major wins in the elections held in New York, Virginia, Boston, Ohio and New Jersey.
The impact of grassroots power was especially evident in the groundbreaking minimum wage increase in New Jersey.
In Boston, voters elected union member Marty Walsh (D) for mayor. In Virginia, a bellwether state, Terry McAuliffe (D) won the governorship. In Ohio, Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly–78% to 2%–defeated a city charter amendment that would have eliminated the defined benefit pension plan for newly hired city employees. And in New York City, voters elected Bill de Blasio, the first Democratic mayor in more than two decades.
Union City’s Chris Garlock spoke with Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation President Daniel Duncan who talked about the importance of working families turning out to vote, “We did our part in Northern Virginia and I’m just so proud of everyone who showed up and helped out.”
Union members, staff and leaders had crisscrossed the state yesterday in a final effort to turn out the labor vote for union-endorsed candidates. “No vote can be taken for granted,” said Roxie Mejia, director of Political Affairs for Painters and Allied Trades District Council 51. “Electing labor-friendly folks makes all the difference,” District Council 51 Business Agent Lynn Taylor said.
New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech reflects on the raise the wage campaign working families waged in New Jersey:
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO was proud to fight on the front lines of an epic battle to raise the state minimum wage, and did so as a founding partner of the statewide grassroots coalition Working Families United for New Jersey Inc., which united the efforts of 256 labor, community, religious, civil rights, student, progressive, women and retirees groups as part of the “Raise the Wage” campaign….Raising the minimum wage was an unequivocal victory for the labor movement that will give hardworking men and women a financial boost and raise the standard of living for all working families.
Read more from the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.
New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez says:
Today, New York City’s labor movement took a stand against 12 years of austerity politics that have taken precedence over the needs of everyday New Yorkers. Together with our affiliates, we took to the streets to make our voices heard, and together, we voted against policies and deals designed to favor the wealthy, while ignoring the needs of our cities working families….Throughout the five boroughs, residents cast their votes for Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, a man who understands the severity of our city’s income equality problem, and who is ready to tackle that problem head-on.
In Washington State, another groundbreaking minimum wage increase ballot measure affecting more than 6,000 low-wage airport workers is currently leading, but votes are still being counted. The measure would increase the minimum wage for SeaTac workers to $15.00 an hour and would provide sick days and other benefits.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: elections, marty walsh, Massachusetts, minimum wage, New Jersey, New York, New York City, seatac, Virginia, washington
Today, working families across Boston celebrate the historic election of Marty Walsh to be the next mayor of Boston, succeeding outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino.
Voters cast their ballots for Walsh, who has dedicated his career to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, expanding options for affordable housing and fighting unfair foreclosures, and creating a Boston that embraces all its communities.
Across the city, people mobilized in vast numbers, reaching out to their neighbors and friends about the importance of electing a candidate to represent working-families.
“In all my conversations with people, one thing was clear: They want to see better jobs, better schools and a better Boston,” said Working America organizer Michael Conway. “I’m excited about what this means for my hometown.”
Conway and other Working America Boston organizers had more than 45,000 face-to-face conversations with people across the city, from Roslindale to Roxbury, from Jamaica Plain to Mattapan. In the preliminary election, four out of five voters Working America spoke with voted on Election Day.
We congratulate mayor-elect Marty Walsh and the people of Boston on this historic victory—a victory for all working people.
Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO for people without the benefit of a union on the job. It has 11,000 members in Massachusetts.
Tags: aflcio, boston, Education, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts
Since current Mayor Thomas Menino was elected in 1993, the city of Boston has seen incredible change. From West Roxbury to East Boston, entire industries have sprung up, fueled by innovation from the city’s world-renowned universities. Immigrants from across the globe have made their home in Boston, creating one of the nation’s most diverse communities.
Unfortunately, there has been another change: Boston has become much more unequal. The last 30 years have seen wealth in the city increasingly concentrated, and now the Boston area has greater inequality than 85 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas.
The central challenge for the next mayor is to ensure that Boston is a city where families in all communities can thrive; a place where the American Dream is reality, not just a part of proud history. That’s why Working America is proud to endorse State Representative Martin J. Walsh to be the next mayor of Boston.
Few elected officials are more attuned to the needs of Bostonians than Marty Walsh. As the son of Irish immigrants, Walsh understands the challenges of making a life in a new country. As a survivor of Burkett’s lymphoma, a form of childhood cancer that struck him at age seven, he knows personally the struggle to access affordable health care, and the value of Boston’s world-class medical treatment and research facilities.
As a union construction worker since the age of 18, Marty Walsh recognizes better than most elected officials the inherent dignity of a full day’s work at a good job with fair wages. At a time when the majority of jobs created are in notoriously low-wage sectors like service and retail – jobs that only recognize the dignity of corporate shareholders – a mayor with Walsh’s experience is needed now more than ever.
Walsh’s vision for the city is bold. He will expand access to affordable housing in the city, redouble the fight against unfair foreclosures, and even provide incentives for childcare facilities that are open during second and third shifts. From his time in legislature working on transportation issues, he is well-positioned to improve the MBTA public transit system, including pushing back the T’s infamous early closing hours. Not only does that give a boost to the city’s nightlife, it also helps Bostonians who work those later shifts make it home without breaking the bank.
Walsh has been an aggressive advocate for public education throughout his career. He plans to invest in early childhood education by doubling the number of K-1 seats and increase overall funding for public education. “My ultimate goal is to make Boston Public Schools so good there there is no need for alternatives,” he told the Boston Globe, “In the city where public education was invented, we should be as renowned for our public schools as we are for our institutions of higher learning.”
Making bold investments with a view toward the future is a Marty Walsh staple. It was key to the successful creation of Building Pathways, a pre-apprenticeship program focused on training women and people of color for careers in the building trades. At first, the program faced skepticism, even from within the union. “They kept talking about the past,” Walsh told Building Pathways’ April 2013 graduating class, “and I said this program’s going to be different.” By its fourth year, the program had such a strong reputation that 85 percent of participants had been placed at jobs prior to graduation.
Walsh’s ambitious pro-worker agenda has been met with resistance. The formerly Rupert Murdoch-owned Boston Herald, (which endorsed anti-worker candidates George W. Bush and Mitt Romney for president), offered a “rare non-endorsement” to Walsh, using divisive language straight out of the Scott Walker playbook. Similarly, various opponents in the crowded field have sought to use Walsh’s labor experience against him.
They should remember that from the laborers who built the skyline to the city’s heroic first responders, the men and women of the labor movement are an indelible part Boston; and that Boston workers, whether or not they have a union, benefit from higher wages and better benefits caused by labor’s influence. “I’m proud of my record with labor,” Walsh said at a debate, “I wear it as a badge of honor. I love supporting working class people and I’m proud of it.”
Sitting back and taking shots is easy. The politicians who take that route during the campaign are more likely to be passive in office as well, even as inequality in Boston becomes a chasm and affordable housing and good jobs are increasingly scarce.
With his working class background and firsthand experience as laborer, Marty Walsh knows that passivity is not acceptable. For a Boston where inequality is tackled head on, and for a city where all families can thrive, vote for Marty Walsh on Tuesday, November 5th.
Paid for by Working America. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Photo by martywalshformayor on Flickr, via Creative Commons.
Tags: boston, Education, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts, public transit, Rights At Work, transportation
Great news for Boston! Marty Walsh took first place out of twelve candidates in last night’s preliminary election for Boston mayor.
Walsh will face City Councilor John Connolly in the general election on November 5.
This isn’t just a victory for a candidate. It’s a victory for working people all across Boston, who are one step closer to having a mayor who will put their needs first. In every neighborhood in Boston, you’ll hear the same thing: voters want a mayor who will put job creation, affordable housing and great public schools first. Last night’s result shows that Marty Walsh has the record and the values we can trust on those issues.
We have all too many examples of what happens when mayor cities elect the wrong mayor. Michael Nutter in Philadelphia vetoed a paid sick days bill and made deep cuts to schools and city services, and Rahm Emanuel in Chicago has become the poster boy for school closings and corporate-backed education privatization. After 30 years of Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston is at an historic crossroads, and November will determine what path the city takes.
Marty Walsh is committed to tackling Boston’s number one problem: growing inequality. If you have friends or family in Boston, please share with them why Marty is the best choice for Boston’s working families.
Paid for by Working America, 815 16th Street NW, Washington DC. www.workingamerica.org.
Tags: boston, Chicago, Education, inequality, Jobs, marty walsh, Massachusetts, Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, rahm emanuel
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will be one of the keynote speakers at the AFL-CIO 2013 National Convention in Los Angeles from Sept. 8–11. Here are 12 key quotes from her that show why she is a champion of the 99%.
1. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory….Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea—God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”—September 2011.
2. “People feel like the system is rigged against them, and here is the painful part, they’re right. The system is rigged.”—September 2012.
3. “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs shouldn’t be left in poverty.”—August 2013.
4. “Look around. Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits. Billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, and Wall Street CEOs, the same ones that direct our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Does anyone here have a problem with that?”—September, 2012.
5. “It is critical that the American people, and not just their financial institutions, be represented at the negotiating table.”—Summer 2009.
6. “Americans are fighters. We’re tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one—no one can stop us.”—September 2012.
7. “And that’s how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt, we root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.”—September 2012.
8. “I understand the frustration, I share their frustration with what’s going on, that right now Washington is wired to work well for those on Wall Street who can hire lobbyists and lawyers and it doesn’t work very well for the rest of us.”—October 2011.
9. “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to jail….Evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”—March 2013.
10. “Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.”—September 2012.
11. “If there had been a Financial Product Safety Commission in place 10 years ago, the current financial crisis would have been averted.”—Summer 2009.
12. “Nobody’s safe. Health insurance? That didn’t protect 1 million Americans who were financially ruined by illness or medical bills last year.”—February 2005.
Visit the convention website to learn more details to follow the action at convention online.
Photo by mdfriendofhillary on Flickr
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Elizabeth Warren, Health Care, Jobs, Massachusetts, Retirement, Rights At Work
Our country needs workhorses, not showhorses. We need depth of knowledge, not empty slogans. Most importantly, we need leaders who will fight for working families all of the time, not some of the time.
Let’s get specific. We need leaders who will protect the earned benefits of Medicare and Social Security. We need to stand firm against the relentless attacks on the essential functions of government: the unprecedented filibuster abuse, the man-made paralysis of the National Labor Relations Board, and the dismantling of our hard-fought protections against the Wall Street crimes that plunged American workers into deep recession.
This isn’t abstract. American workers can’t afford anything less. And that’s why we strongly urge Massachusetts voters to support Ed Markey for U.S. Senate on June 25.
Ed Markey has represented Massachusetts in Congress for many years. He’s been in the majority and the minority. He’s served with Democrats and Republicans in the White House. Through it all, he has consistently striven to make our country cleaner, more equal, more technologically savvy, and more transparent.
The camera at the bottom of the ocean that showed the oil leaking out of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010? That was Ed Markey. The creation of an entire Congressional committee devoted to developing clean energy jobs? That was Ed, too. New requirements for airline cargo screening to keep us safe? Markey.
But the choice is even clearer when you compare Markey to his Republican opponent, private equity investor Gabriel Gomez. Gomez is selling himself as a “new kind of Republican,” but on the things that matter to working families, it’s hard to see what’s new. He supports chained CPI cuts to Social Security benefits, which he calls an “entitlement.” He wants to lower the corporate tax rate, which has only lead to more off-shoring, not less. He thinks Wall Street reform is “too tough.” Like Scott Brown before him, the majority of his donations have come from the financial services sector.
Here’s the question: Do we want more Elizabeth Warren’s in DC? Or more Mitt Romney’s?
Let’s support someone who will work for working families. Vote Ed Markey for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, June 25.
Polls are open 7am to 8pm. Find where to vote here.
Paid for by Working America, 815 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006 and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Image via Ed Markey on Facebook.
Tags: ed markey, Elizabeth Warren, gabriel gomez, Jobs, Massachusetts, Medicare, Mitt Romney, Rights At Work, Scott Brown, social security
I have been an employee at a private nursing home for 24 years. I now work part-time for five days in a two-week period, 7.5 hours per day. When my scheduled day to work falls on a holiday, I do not get paid for that day. Therefore I lose a day’s work and only get four days in that pay period. Why must I lose a day’s work because it is a holiday? It just does not seem fair to me.
— Expensive Holiday, Ohio
This is a pretty important issue—after all, you rely on having that consistent income, and getting a day without pay thrown at you is a big deal.
This is one of the problems with employers having all the say on what’s considered “fair.” Unless you have a contract or union agreement that says otherwise, it is probably legal. But “legal” doesn’t mean “fair.” While the federal government and most public employers recognize certain holidays and provide either paid time off or premium pay for their employers on those days, there is almost nothing required by statute for private sector employees with respect to holidays. Federal wage and hour law and the vast majority of state laws do not require private sector employers to treat holidays any differently than any other days. Unless you have an individual or union contract guaranteeing you a certain number of hours per week, or specifically requiring paid time off for holidays, you can be scheduled off without pay. Also, except in a small number of states (such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island), private sector employees are not entitled by statute to extra pay if they are required to work on a holiday.
So who gets to decide if you are going to be paid for a holiday, and who gets to decide what your schedule looks like? It’s not clear if you are working this schedule because it’s your preference or because that’s the only schedule your employer will offer you despite your long service.
Sometimes employers hold back holiday pay or other benefits as an incentive for working full-time or a certain number of hours. And too often employers are manipulating workers’ schedules so they don’t work enough hours to be eligible for those kinds of benefits. Even if that’s not what’s happening here, don’t you think 24 years working at the same place ought to come with some input into your working conditions? That might be a good question for you to take to some of your co-workers. While you’re at it, you might want to ask them if there’s anything else about their jobs they’d like to see get fixed. If enough of you end up on the same page, this might become an opportunity for you to address several issues at once—together.
Tags: Dear David, Massachusetts, Ohio, Paid Sick Days, Rhode Island, wages, workplace
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Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican private equity executive Gabriel Gomez are running to become the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
The special election will be held on Tuesday, June 25, and June 5 is the last day to register to vote.
In local and national news, the coverage of the race has focused on the “horse race” and various things the two candidates have said – not so much on policy. But on issues affecting working families, there’s are huge differences between Markey and Gomez that we wish were making bigger headlines.
1.) Retirement. As a member of Congress, Ed Markey has been a longtime defender of Social Security. When both Republicans and Democrats were considering a plan to change the formula used to determine Social Security benefits to “chained CPI,” Markey opposed it.
“Chained CPI” (CPI stands for “consumer price index”) assumes that when prices go up, consumers will choose a less expensive product. This formula results in a lower “cost of living” estimate because it assumes people need less; using this formula to calculate Social Security is equivalent to a benefit cut.
Markey has said that CPI really stands for “cutting people’s income.”
Republican Gabriel Gomez, on the other hand, supports the “chained CPI” benefit cut, which he announced at an April 10 debate. As the AARP points out, if the government makes this switch for both Social Security and veterans benefits, current and future seniors veterans could lose $146 billion in benefits over 10 years.
2.) Wall Street. Ed Markey voted for the groundbreaking Wall Street reform bill, which ends some of the worst abuses of big banks and corporations (those same banks have since fought tooth and nail to weaken the reform). He also opposes Republican plans that would increase tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Gabriel Gomez, who made his fortune as a private equity executive, has relied heavily on the support of Wall Street and the financial services industry in his run for office. Individuals working in finance have given Gomez’s campaign $278,000, 52 percent of his total campaign contributions. Bain Capital employees have given Gomez more than $12,000.
Not surprisingly, Gomez’s policy positions closely mirror that of the financial industry. He said that “onerous taxes” and “excessive regulation” are obstacles to job growth. He opposes raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and has attacked the Wall Street reform law.
3.) Health Care. The candidates differ starkly on the issue of Medicare. Ed Markey opposes cuts to Medicare, while Gabriel Gomez has said he favors raising the Medicare eligibility age. On his website and in his public statements, Gomez refers to Medicare as an “entitlement,” not as a guaranteed benefit.
Gomez hasn’t said at what age seniors should be eligible for Medicare, but a popular proposal would raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67. According to Roosevelt Institute fellow Matt Stoller, that would mean that 5 million 65 and 66 year olds would not be able to get Medicare coverage for at least a year, and 7 million would not be eligible for at least a month. Even with Obamacare fully implemented and every state accepting Medicaid expansion, this policy change would leave at least 200,000 seniors without health insurance, primarily those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Those seniors would be denied the earned benefit that they paid for over the course of their lives.
Remember, the special election is on Tuesday, June 25, and the last day to register to vote in this election is Wednesday, June 5. If you live in Massachusetts or know someone who does, please share these three crucial pieces of information about where Markey and Gomez stand.
Tags: ed markey, gabriel gomez, Health Care, Jobs, Massachusetts, Medicare, social security, taxes, Wall Street
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
While most attention in the Boston tragedy is rightfully focused on the victims of last Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, the damage done by the terrorist attacks didn’t end with the explosions or the subsequent shootout that led to additional deaths. Much of the city shut down during the manhunt for the terror suspects; and while most salaried employees could take the day off without losing pay, low-wage workers did not have that luxury. Other workers were forced to work long hours or brave dangerous conditions to get their jobs done.
Salon took a look at the various ways that the bombings affected workers in Boston, including a fear that many businesses will not compensate low-wage workers for the time off the city’s shutdown required:
“Most low wage workers can’t afford to lose a day’s pay, and there’s no doubt this lockdown will adversely impact the city’s working poor,” said Jessica Kutch, a labor activist who co-founded the organizing site coworker.org, in an email to Salon. “I’d really like to see employers state on the record that their hourly workers will be paid for the time they were scheduled to work today—but I suspect that most employers will place the burden of this shutdown squarely on the backs of people who can least afford it.”
Salon also reported that some businesses are requiring workers to use vacation time, although some relented in the face of internal pushback.
First responders, of course, have been working extended hours, with police and medical personnel working much longer than normal days:
Steven Tolman, the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told Salon, “They’re doing God’s work,” he said. “They’re exhausted, they’ve been working constantly. The heroism of the people who were there and saw things that they never thought they’d see in their life is just incredible.”
“It’s justification why public employees are entitled to a decent pension and the best health care because they put so much on the line in a time of need,” he said.
Workers in some industries have been necessary for supporting law enforcement engaged in the hunt for the suspects or stranded tourists while transportation has been limited:
Brian Lang, the president of UNITE HERE Local 26, told Salon that many of the hotel workers he represents have been working double shifts with little time off, as many of the guests have been unable to leave the city. Police from out of town have completely occupied some hotels, while authorities set up a command center at the Westin downtown, just blocks from the bombing.
“Those hotels were full of people all week, so our members in there were like the second responders,” Lang said. “There were the first responders who aided the people who were directly affected by the bombings, but many of the folks who were affected were from out of town and they were staying at these hotels. They were exhausted, they were traumatized, and it was the hotel workers who comforted them, fed them, who made sure they had clean, safe rooms to say in.”
Tags: aflcio, boston, hotel, low wage workers, Massachusetts, minimum wage, public sector workers, Rights At Work, unite here