In the latest video from the Koch Sisters, Karen and Joyce express their outrage that the Koch Brothers are attacking the minimum wage, saying that billionaires trying to control how much the lowest-paid workers in the country get is “almost evil.”
The Senate is poised to vote on the minimum wage this week. Call your senators at 888-492-8867 and tell them to vote “yes” on raising the minimum wage.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Koch Brothers, Koch Sisters, labor, minimum wage, union
It’s an election year and we are quickly approaching the time when working families will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote against a whole host of extreme candidates who support policies that limit rights, make it even harder to afford a middle-class life and pad the pockets of their corporate buddies. One of the “Worst Candidates for Working Families in the 2014 Elections” is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. Here are seven reasons why Corbett has been bad for working people:
1. Corbett promised to make Pennsylvania #1 in job creation, instead the state has fallen to 46th in the country under his policies. [PoliticsPA, 7/22/13; W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, accessed 5/29/14]
2. Rather than addressing the real reasons why unemployment is so high in his state, Corbett blamed drugs. Seriously. In an editorial in Cumberlink, he said: “Many employers that say we’re looking for people but can’t find anyone who has passed a drug test.” [Cumberlink, 10/7/13]
3. As governor, Corbett has cut funding for education and eliminated 20,000 public school jobs. As a result, almost 70% of the state’s school districts had to increase class sizes, despite a state constitutional requirement to fund schools adequately. [Patriot News, 04/16/13; Associated Press, 9/16/11; Allentown Morning Call, 7/20/13; The Sharon Herald, 2/15/13; Salon, 8/19/13]
4. While cutting education, Corbett has made sure to continue to give away massive tax breaks to corporations, to the tune of $3.2 billion a year. That’s a lot of money that could fund proper education and programs to create jobs. [PA Budget and Policy Center, 3/12/13]
5. Not just content to cut education, Corbett’s cuts weren’t felt very equally. A study from the Pennsylvania State Education Association found with the education cuts that “state funding cuts to the most impoverished districts averaged more than three times the size of the cuts for districts with the lowest average child poverty.”
6. Corbett has made it pretty clear that he’s opposed to raising the state’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, despite the fact that Pennsylvania’s working families are seeing their incomes fall further and further behind the cost of living. [CBS DC, 1/30/14]
7. Not content to cut funding for state programs, Corbett also sought to cut the revenue streams that fund those programs, too. When he first came into office, he attempted to privatize the state lottery, proceeds of which fund programs that benefit many of the state’s residents. [York Daily Record, 11/1/13]
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Education, Jobs, labor, minimum wage, Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, unemployment, union
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined with local labor leaders and working families to rally Alaska voters to support raising the state’s minimum wage. For several decades, Alaska had the nation’s highest minimum wage, but the wage has stayed stagnant in recent years, and Alaska’s working families are falling farther and farther behind.
Alaska’s Ballot Measure 3 would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2015. The bill would raise the minimum wage to $9.75 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2016, then it would adjust the minimum wage each year for inflation after 2016.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, alaska, labor, minimum wage, Richard Trumka, union
Today thousands of fast food workers, with a little bit of help from some homecare workers, went on strike in 100 cities and staged sit-ins in 12 cities.
Organizers are calling it a day of non-violent civil disobedience.
Workers, who have been striking for months now, are demanding a $15 wage and the ability to join a union. The demands seem pretty straightforward, but there are some specific reasons as to exactly why fast food workers are striking:
1. Because $9 an hour doesn’t support a family. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fast food workers make, on average, $18,880 a year. According to the living wage calculator, that amount would put a family of two at the poverty level. CNN Money reported that a Chicago-based McDonald’s worker Nancy Salgado makes $8.25 an hour, or $600 a month. Salgado, who is a single mother to two kids, notes that after splitting rent with her three roommates and paying for childcare she’s left with a little over $100 a month for food and other necessities. “If I have a dollar at the end of the month it’s a miracle,” Salgado said.
2. Because taxpayers spend billions on fast food workers’ public assistance. The reality is that, with the wages most fast food workers are paid, many qualify for some sort of public assistance. In fact, According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, low wages in the fast food industry cost taxpayers about $7 billion a year in public assistance and NPR reports that 52 percent of fast food workers rely on public assistance. The New York Daily News reported that 81 year old fast food worker Jose Carrillo, who’s received a 10 cent raise in 10 years, would not be able to survive on his $8.10 an hour wage if it wasn’t for “food stamps and Medicare”.
3. And because a union will help. Whether it’s higher wages or better benefits, many fast food workers could use the protections of a union. For example McDonald’s has been hit with a slew of lawsuits alleging wage theft violations, seven in March alone, that accuse the golden arches of failing to pay workers for overtime and forcing them to work while off the clock. Unions, traditionally, are great advocates for workers, ensuring that workers get a fair and safe workplace, proper compensation for work done and an advocate for most work-related issues or problems.
Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr.
Tags: fast food strike, fast food workers, minimum wage, public assistance, unionization, unions, wage theft
For the first time since 2008, voters in Nebraska will vote on a statewide ballot initiative. And luckily, it’s one to raise the minimum wage.
A measure to raise the minimum wage to $9 over two years qualified for Nebraska’s ballot with about 90,000 signatures–9,000 more than needed. For comparison, that’s about 11 percent of Nebraska’a 2012 voting population.
When it comes to smaller states seeing huge responses to chance to raise the minimum wage, Nebraska isn’t alone. South Dakotans turned in 26,000 signatures to get the chance to raise their minimum wage to $8.50. And at the same time Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan go head-to-head in a tight contest for U.S. Senate, Alaskans will vote in November on a measure raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.
If you need proof that raising the minimum wage is an issue that crosses party lines, look at these three states.
In Nebraska’s race for U.S. Senate, Republican Ben Sasse is consistently leading Democrat Dave Domina by 17 to 25 percent. But 55 percent of Nebraskans support raising the wage, according to a poll by Voices for Children.
Over in South Dakota, voters are split between three candidates for U.S. Senate, with Republican Governor Mike Rounds ahead. On raising the wage? SurveyUSA found 60 percent support the minimum wage ballot measure.
And finally, Alaska is the site of what many expect to be one of the year’s closest U.S. Senate races. However–you guessed it!–the minimum wage increase is crushing with 67 percent, according to Public Policy Polling.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congress left for August recess with no action on wages. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell lead a knee-jerk filibuster against a bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and Speaker Boehner refuses to bring it before the House for a vote.
If Congress continues to be unresponsive to the key economic issue facing working families today, expect more cities and states to take it upon themselves to act. And expect candidates in 2014–mostly Republican, but some Democrats as well–to be in an awkward position while they stick with their default opposition to raising the minimum wage.
Photo by @BetterWagesNE on Twitter
Tags: alaska, Ben Sasse, Dan Sullivan, Dave Domina, John Boehner, Mark Begich, Mike Rounds, minimum wage, nebraska, Rick Weiland, South Dakota
While it certainly seems that far-right extremists are waging an all-out war on working families and their rights, workers aren’t just defending themselves; they are fighting to expand their rights and achieving some significant gains. Here are 12 recent victories we should celebrate while continuing to push for even more wins.
1. AFSCME Sets Organizing Goal, Almost Doubles It: AFSCME President Lee Saunders announced that the union has organized more than 90,000 workers this year, nearly doubling its 2014 goal of 50,000.
2. Tennessee Auto Workers to Create New Local Union at VW Plant: Auto workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local that will give workers an increased voice in the operation of the German carmaker’s U.S. facility. UAW organizers continue to gain momentum, as the union has the support of nearly half of the plant’s 1,500 workers, which would make the union the facility’s exclusive collective bargaining agent.
3. California Casino Workers Organize: Workers at the new Graton Resort & Casino voted to join UNITE HERE Local 2850 of Oakland, providing job security for 600 gambling, maintenance, and food and beverage workers.
4. Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote to Join TWU: Flight attendants at Virgin America voted to join the Transport Workers, citing the success of TWU in bargaining fair contracts for Southwest Airlines flight attendants.
5. Maryland Cab Drivers Join National Taxi Workers Alliance: Cab drivers in Montgomery County, Md., announced their affiliation with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, citing low wages and unethical behavior by employers among their reasons to affiliate with the national union.
6. Retail and Restaurant Workers Win Big, Organize Small: Small groups of workers made big strides as over a dozen employees at a Subway restaurant in Bloomsbury, N.J., voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Meanwhile, cosmetics and fragrance workers at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts won an NLRB ruling that will allow them to vote on forming a union.
7. Minnesota Home Care Workers Take Key Step to Organize: Home health care workers in Minnesota presented a petition to state officials that would allow a vote on forming a union for more than 26,000 eligible workers.
8. New York Television Writers-Producers Join Writers Guild: Writers and producers from Original Media, a New York City-based production company, voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East, citing low wages, long work schedules and no health care.
9. Fast-Food Workers Win in New NLRB Ruling: The National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald’s could be held jointly responsible with its franchisees for labor violations and wage disputes. The NLRB ruling makes it easier for workers to organize individual McDonald’s locations, and could result in better pay and conditions for workers.
10. Workers Increasingly Have Access to Paid Sick Leave: Cities such as San Diego and Eugene, Ore., have passed measures mandating paid sick leave, providing workers with needed flexibility and making workplaces safer for all.
11. Student-Athletes See Success, Improved Conditions: College athletic programs are strengtheningfinancial security measures for student-athletes in the wake of organizing efforts by Northwestern University football players. In addition, the future is bright as the majority of incoming college football players support forming a union.
12. San Diego Approves Minimum Wage Hike; Portland, Maine, Starts Process: Even as Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage, municipalities across the country have taken action. San Diego will raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, and the Portland, Maine, Minimum Wage Advisory Committee will consider an increase that would take effect in 2015.
Tags: aflcio, afscme, athletes, California, chattanooga, fast food, Jobs, Lee Saunders, Maine, maryland, minimum wage, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, NLRB, Oregon, organizing, Paid Sick Days, Portland, Rights At Work, San Diego, Tennessee, TWU, uaw
On July 14, the San Diego City Council voted 6-3 to raise San Diego’s minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017.
On August 8, Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the bill.
That’s the part of the script you’ve seen before. But this time, the ending was different.
On Tuesday, six members of the City Council overturned Mayor Faulconer’s veto. The city’s business establishment, lead by the Chamber of Commerce, is seeking to gather 34,000 signatures in 30 days to put the issue to voters in November, which would delay its implementation. But otherwise, the measure is on its way to becoming law.
Faulconer, a Republican, was elected in a close special election in February following the resignation of Democrat Bob Filner. Because of his conservative leanings and close business ties, his victory was seen as a loss for working people.
But the minimum wage fight is another example of why you should never count out your local elections. Instead of an utter defeat at the hands of Mayor Faulconer, the Council’s one-vote-margin super-majority has given the bill another shot.
With no federal action on wages expected anytime soon (Thanks archaic Senate rules! Thanks Mitch McConnell! Thanks gerrymandered, unresponsive Congress!), the action is all in states and cities. Ten states have raise the minimum wage this year alone, and Seattle has a plan to raise their wage to $15 over the next few years. It’s no coincidence that ALEC has formed a new offshoot to focus on city and county issues.
In the country’s eighth-largest city, one city council member had the power to keep a bill raising wages for an estimated 172,000 people from dying.
That’s why you have to vote, and not just for President. For Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Vote for County Commissioners. Vote for Mayor and City Council. Vote for municipal positions like Clerk and Auditor. Vote for hyper-local positions if you have them, because they might be City Councilors someday.
Our opposition isn’t taking any chances. ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce take a great interest in current (and future) city officials to make sure they will be on their side when things like minimum wage reach their desks.
One local election made the difference for 172,000 weekly paychecks. Replicate that in every city and town? That’s what change looks like–not just one victory or defeat at the top of the ticket.
Photo via Raise Up San Diego on Facebook
Tags: ALEC, California, Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Accountability, Kevin Faulconer, minimum wage, San Diego
In case you missed it, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard F. Griffin made a pretty significant announcement about McDonald’s and its role as an employer to workers in franchise locations all over the country.
Historically McDonald’s has claimed it has no authority over wages or complaints of workers’ rights violations at its franchise locations because that is up to the individual owners, but the NLRB general counsel determined McDonald’s could be liable as a joint employer in these kinds of situations.
There’s been a lot of head scratching over what this announcement means and its implications for other large companies and workers at these kind of fast food franchises, so here is some basic information to break it all down for you.
How Did This All Come About?
You’ve probably noticed that fast food workers all over the country are fed up. In recent years these workers have been speaking out against low pay and working conditions in the fast food industry, culminating in several strikes and days of action that have captured the hearts and minds of people who care about workers’ rights. Some workers who spoke out said that their employers retaliated against them, even though such concerted activity is protected by federal labor law. Those workers filed charges of unfair labor practices with the NLRB and presented evidence that McDonald’s does indeed have significant control over wages and labor relations at its franchisees. Which brings us to the NLRB McDonald’s news.
What Did the NLRB Say?
General Counsel Griffin investigated charges alleging McDonald’s franchisees and their franchisor, McDonald’s, violated the rights of workers as a result of activities surrounding the fast food strikes and protests. He found some of these charges to have merit and, significantly, determined that McDonald’s should be considered a joint employer with its franchisees. Basically, McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to hide behind the franchisee, but also may be held responsible for the policies in place that deal with terms and conditions of employment, and labor practices.
What Happens Next?
If the workers and the employers cannot come to a settlement, the NLRB general counsel will issue complaints and try the cases before administrative law judges. Those judges then make rulings and the losing parties can appeal to the full NLRB board in Washington, D.C. NLRB decisions could be appealed to a federal appeals court, and then possibly to the Supreme Court.
Will All Franchisors Be Considered Joint Employers Now?
Not necessarily. This case is specific to McDonald’s. That being said, this could have implications for other employers on a case-by-case basis if more unfair labor practice charges come up.
What’s the Big Picture?
Even though this story has a long way to go, this is “pretty significant,” says AFL-CIO Legal Counsel Sarah Fox. What makes this case so interesting is that the joint employer doctrine can be applied not only to fast food franchises and franchise arrangements in other industries, but also to other practices companies use to avoid directly employing their workers, such as subcontracting, outsourcing and using temporary employment agencies. “Companies are increasingly using these kinds of arrangement to distance themselves from their workers and shield themselves from liability as employers,” says Fox. “These are the devices they use so that they can get the benefit of the work the employees do, but say ‘I’m not responsible’ for unfair labor practices, health and safety violations, paying proper employment taxes or complying with other legal responsibilities of an employer.”
The notion of the joint employer doctrine is an important concept for holding employers responsible, even if there’s a third party involved, when they are effectively exerting control over wages and working conditions.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW.
Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr.
Tags: fast food strike, fast food workers, mcdonalds, minimum wage, strike, wages
With Mad Men wrapping up this season, we will no longer be getting a weekly dose of what the workplace was like during the 1960′s.
Well, in a way, we will.
Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks appeared in a video on the site Funny Or Die this week in which she points out that when it comes to wages for women and the gender pay gap, we’re very much stuck in the 1960′s.
Hendricks appears as her Mad Men character Joan Holloway, recently hired at a modern office. She is hopelessly out of place: she can’t use the modern phones, mixes a martini instead of using the water cooler, and even tries to erase text on her computer with the back of a pencil.
When questioned about her odd behavior, she brings up a few key statistics: women make 23 percent less than their male counterparts, nearly 70 percent of minimum wage workers are women, and only 15 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female.
“So I figure if we’re going to run our businesses like it’s the 1960′s,” she says, “I’m going to act like it.”
“Or I could’ve had a stroke…I smoke a lot.”
Here’s what Hendricks doesn’t mention: that lawmakers across the country are working to to make these grim statistics a thing of the past, and that there are forces fighting equally as hard to keep the status quo.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would have made it harder for companies to pay women less than men and easier for women to take legal action against employers who deliberately pay them less. On April 9, 43 Republican Senators and 1 Independent joined to filibuster the bill, requiring a 60 vote threshold and denying us a public debate.
As for low wages, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, but it never reached an up-or-down vote. On April 30, 41 Republicans lead by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered the bill. All this while at least 69 percent of Americans support raising the wage.
(More on the ridiculousness of these filibuster votes and how the media reports them.)
Luckily, there’s been action in the states. In June, Massachusetts became the tenth state this year to raise the minimum wage, a list that includes Republican-dominated Michigan. And Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) signed into law a statewide version of Sen Mikulski’s pay gap bill in the Granite State.
Like its viral video hit “Minimum Wage Mary Poppins” last month, Funny Or Die is writing the book on how to use parody videos to shed light on economic issues. But often, when you include the part of the story about the individuals and forces working hard to keep things the way they are–or make them worse–everyone stops laughing.
Tags: Barbara Mikulski, equal pay, Maggie Hassan, Massachusetts, Michigan, minimum wage, Mitch McConnell, New Hampshire, pay gap, Rights At Work, Tom Harkin, women
It’s pretty frustrating seeing all the headlines that claim the economy is alive and kicking. Sure, there is economic growth and a steady increase in jobs, but what kind of jobs are we talking about exactly?
Well, they aren’t the kind of jobs we think of first when it comes to steady, middle-class jobs. No big surprise here, low-wage service sector jobs like those in the fast-food industry are seeing the biggest gains.
Bryce Covert at The New Republic has a nice summary of what America’s workers are up against when it comes to wages.
Covert emphasizes the need for “ways to reconnect hard work and decent pay” that “hand employees more power so they can ask for more.” What does she have in mind?
- Making it easier for workers to unionize and demand better pay;
- Aiming for full employment, so all people who want a job can have one for as many hours as they need;
- Urging the Federal Reserve to be more concerned about unemployment than inflation;
- Following the German model of putting workers on corporate boards, so firms are not used as piggy banks to pump money out to shareholders;
- Providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers; and
- Raising the minimum wage.
Covert discusses more than just minimum wage workers and the fast-food industry, she points out other issues, including wage theft, the uphill battle for workers trying to form unions, NFL cheerleaders getting paid what sometimes amounts to $2 an hour, unscrupulous employers exploiting immigrant workers and more.
Make sure you read the rest of Covert’s article on decent wages: The NFL Cheerleaders Should Be Your Fair-Pay Heroes.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: fast food, immigration, low wage workers, minimum wage, Rights At Work, unemployment