Tag Archives: Minimum Wage

On 13th Anniversary of Last Minimum Wage Hike, Dems Urged to Raise ‘Deplorable’ $7.25 Floor

“They must immediately raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. Our country cannot afford to reach a 14th anniversary of $7.25.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 7-24-2022 by Common Dreams

NYC Rally and March to raise the minimum wage on 4-15-2015. Photo: The All-Nite Images/flickr/CC

Marking the 13-year anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase in the U.S.—a meager boost from $5.15 to $7.25 in 2009—progressive campaigners on Sunday urged congressional Democrats to make another push to raise the national pay floor as inflation continues to diminish workers’ purchasing power.

“Today is a sad anniversary in the United States,” said Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group that advocates progressive economic policy. “For 13 years now, Congress has failed to act to raise the $7.25 hourly federal minimum wage. Lawmakers have turned their backs on America’s tens of millions of low-wage workers and revealed themselves to be beholden to the short-sighted interests of some of their ultra-rich donors.”

According to a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the real value of the federal minimum wage is currently at its lowest point in nearly seven decades amid record-high inflation, which spurred a decrease in real average hourly earnings between June 2021 and June 2022 as corporate profits soared.

“Last July marked the longest period without a minimum wage increase since Congress established the federal minimum wage in 1938,” EPI noted, “and continued inaction on the federal minimum wage over the past year has only further eroded the minimum wage’s value.”

In 2021, Senate Democrats stripped a proposed $15 federal minimum wage from their coronavirus relief package on the advice of the chamber’s parliamentarian, an unelected official tasked with offering non-binding opinions on whether legislation complies with Senate rules.

Eight Senate Democrats joined Republicans in voting down Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) last-ditch attempt to reinclude the provision, which was approved by the House.

Amid more than a decade of federal inaction, states and localities across the U.S. have raised their hourly wage floors in response to pressure from the grassroots Fight for $15 movement.

But $7.25 an hour remains the prevailing minimum wage in 20 states. The tipped subminimum wage is still $3 an hour or lower in 22 states.

Had the federal minimum wage risen at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses, it would now be $61.75 an hour instead of $7.25. If the minimum wage had kept pace with worker productivity since 1968, it would have been around $23 an hour last year.

“Regressive politicians across this country have kept our wages down for years,” Fight for $15 wrote in a Twitter post. “That’s why it’s important that we get at least $15/hour federal minimum wage. That way no one gets left behind.”

Morris of the Patriotic Millionaires said Sunday that “$7.25 was already inadequate back in 2009 when the minimum wage was last raised, but now it is downright deplorable.”

“Since 2009, workers have endured the Great Recession, a worldwide pandemic, historic inflation, and massive changes in the cost of living,” Pearl added. “And what have they gotten in return? A minimum wage that is worth 27% less than its 2009 value, one that now isn’t enough to afford even a single-bedroom apartment in 93% of the country.”

“In the face of rapidly rising costs for American families, Congress must act to raise wages for the tens of millions of workers who are struggling just to get by. They must immediately raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. Our country cannot afford to reach a 14th anniversary of $7.25.”

And if congressional Democrats can’t muster “the political will” to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour—a move that would boost the incomes of more than 30 million people across the country—”then the president must act,” said Pearl.

“When President Biden came into office, he raised the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $15,” he pointed out. “Given the rising cost of living, he should now raise the minimum wage for federal contractors even higher, to no less than $20 an hour. This move will benefit hundreds of thousands of workers, prove to voters that Democrats care about working people, and provide a strong example to spur Congressional Democrats to action.”

“The president,” Pearl added, “is supposed to be the leader of our country—it’s time for Biden to lead on this critical issue.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Share Button

Is your Christmas list supporting modern slavery? The dilemma of shopping ethically this festive season

ESstock / Shutterstock

Simon Green, University of Hull

With Christmas coming soon and last-minute shopping underway, it is worth questioning the origin of some of our favourite holiday and gift items. It is highly likely that some of the gifts under your tree – including clothing, chocolate and mobile phones – will have been made by children working in exploitative or hazardous conditions of modern slavery.

It is difficult to tell what items from which businesses might be affected. This is because child exploitation usually takes place a long way down the supply chain (for example, in the cobalt mine or cocoa farm) and, unless brought to light through an investigation or exposé, is largely invisible. Continue reading

Share Button

In ‘Emblematic Parting Blow,’ Trump Moves to Take $700 Million Per Year Out of Tipped Workers’ Pockets

“This rule change will make tipped workers even more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said Saru Jayaraman of One Fair Wage. “What workers need now, more than ever is a full, fair minimum wage.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-23-2020

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

 

Just hours before President Donald Trump surprised millions by pushing for enlarged stimulus checks in the new coronavirus relief package, his administration on Tuesday added to its extensive record of anti-worker policymaking by finalizing a regulatory change that enables employers to dispossess tipped workers of more than $700 million per year.

The new regulation (pdf)—long sought by the restaurant industry—expands tip pools “from front-of-the-house employees alone to include back-of-the-house employees” in the handful of states where servers receive the standard minimum wage. It also relaxes limits on the amount of nontipped work that can be done by tipped employees earning a subminimum wage, which exists in all but eight states. Continue reading

Share Button

Fresh Calls to #RaiseTheWage After Study Shows $1 Increase Could Prevent Thousands of Suicides

The House-approved Raise the Wage Act is among hundreds of bills sitting on the desk of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the self-declared “grim reaper” of progressive legislation.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-9-2020

A study published this week found that raising the minimum wage just $1 could prevent thousands of suicide deaths in the United States. Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/flickr/CC

A new study that suggests raising the minimum wage could prevent thousands of suicide deaths in the United States sparked fresh calls for relief from federal lawmakers and cast a spotlight on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.

“Low-wage employees are in desperate need of a raise, and the Senate’s refusal to pass the #RaiseTheWage Act is keeping vulnerable Americans in harm’s way,” the advocacy group Patriotic Millionaires tweeted on Thursday, linking to NPR‘s report on the study. Continue reading

Share Button

Trump Labor Dept Slammed for ‘Wholly Inadequate’ Overtime Pay Rule That ‘Leaves Behind Millions of Workers’

“Once again, President Trump has sided with the interests of corporate executives over those of working people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2019

President Donald Trump speaks at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania on Aug. 13, 2019.. Screenshot: YouTube

Labor rights advocates and progressive economists slammed the Trump administration after the Department of Labor announced Tuesday a final rule on overtime pay to replace a bolder Obama-era proposal blocked by a federal court in Texas.

“While the administration may be trumpeting this rule as a good thing for workers, that is a ruse,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “In reality, the rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration abandoned.” Continue reading

Share Button

States are on the front lines of fighting inequality

 

File 20190115 152977 1whj03z.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Rally in support of raising the minimum wage in University City, Mo. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Christopher Witko, Pennsylvania State University

When Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., almost immediately took aim at America’s growing income inequality by recommending a 70 percent tax rate on income over US$10 million.

Income inequality refers to the unequal distribution of income between the rich and poor.

Inequality in the U.S. has dramatically increased since the 1970s, under both liberal and conservative administrations in Washington. And the kind of policy Ocasio-Cortez is proposing will be impossible to pass with the polarized politics in Washington D.C. Continue reading

Share Button

In ‘Craven’ Bait-and-Switch Attack on Workers, Michigan GOP Guts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Proposals

“Imagine hating working-class people this much.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-5-2018

Michigan voters—joined by a “lame duck”—gathered to watch in Michigan’s capital as Republican lawmakers gutted a minimum wage hike and paid sick leave protections. (Photo: @LindsayVanHulle/Twitter)

Three months after ensuring that Michigan voters would not have a say in proposals to hike the state’s minimum wage and provide sick leave to workers, the state’s Republican-led Senate pushed through major changes to the initiatives on Tuesday, effectively gutting legislation that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents had demanded.

Under the original minimum wage proposal, the state’s minimum wage would have gone up from $9.25 to $12 per hour by 2022—but workers will have to wait until 2030 under the GOP’s version of the bill. Tipped workers’s wages will go up to only $4 from $3.52 per hour by that time under the Republican proposal. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Resounding Win for Economic Equality’: 4 States Vote to Boost Minimum Wage

The results offer ‘a strong message to all of Washington: If you’re not working to create a fair economy, we’ll do it ourselves’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-9-2016

The results, said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, "mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy." (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/flickr/cc)

The results, said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, “mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy.” (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/flickr/cc)

Voters in four states—Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington—said yes on Tuesday to ballot initiatives that will boost their state’s minimum hourly wage, offering hope, advocates say, of an increased standard of living for roughly 2.1 million workers.

According to Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, the results “mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy.” Continue reading

Share Button

Don’t Disabled Workers Deserve the Minimun?

By ParentingPatch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By ParentingPatch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Harold and Sheila Leigland are blind. They live in Great Falls, Montana, where 66-year-old Harold, a former massage therapist with a college degree, hangs clothes at the Goodwill store for $5.46 per hour. Last summer, Sheila was forced to quit her position at Goodwill doing the same job as Harold when her wage was dropped from $3.50 to $2.75 per hour following knee surgery.

Every six months, Harold is subjected to time studies to determine if his wage can be lowered or raised. Sheila explains that this was the most humiliating and stressful part of her previous position at Goodwill. She felt that the tests are made more difficult to justify lowering wages, despite consistencies workers show in job performance.

They actually have it quite good in Great Falls at the Goodwill store. Some states pay their disabled workers as little as .22 cents and hour, with one state reporting wages as low as ONE CENT per hour. In case you think (or hope) there must be a law being broken here, sadly we must inform you that this is entirely legal. Due to a 1938 loophole in the law which has never been corrected, modernized or abolished altogether, employers can hire disabled workers for less than minimum wage. Currently, estimates are that over 216,000 workers are affected.

Section 14(c) of the FLSA authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages wages less than the Federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed. “A worker who has disabilities for the job being performed is one whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those relating to age or injury. Disabilities which may affect productive capacity include blindness, mental illness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, alcoholism and drug addiction.”

FOH Chapter 64, Employment of Workers with Disabilities at Special Minimum Wages under Section 14(c), provides general guidance on the administration and enforcement of this program. It is over 100 pages in length.

Goodwill is not the only employer to use this loophole to pay less than federal minimum wage to disabled workers. Most employers taking advantage of the loophole are charitable organizations, where CEO earnings are often upward of a half million dollars.

Mental illness includes depression, panic disorder and PTSD. So for all practical purposes, it is completely legal for a veteran to return from service and finally find employment while attempting to adjust back to civilian life, only to be paid as little as the employer determines to pay. If a victim of a car accident survives the injuries but remains disabled for life, they can look forward to never being able to earn even the federal minimum wage. If an aging worker wants to continue working, the employer can reduce the wage to an unsustainable level, forcing the worker to quit.

Goodwill includes in their mission statement that it is their goal “to eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” We do not believe that should include exploitation of disabled workers, and call on individuals to make a personal choice to boycott Goodwill until all employees are paid the same federal minimum wage, regardless of disabilities.

Occupy World Writes calls on legislators in Washington to correct this stain on America’s spirit of fairness and non-discrimination in her employment laws. We encourage those who agree that Section 14(c) of the FLSA needs to be abolished join with other voices by signing the petition at the link below. We also strongly suggest writing or calling your representative or congressional member and ask them to correct this wrong.

Disabled Rights are Civil Rights. Civil Rights are Human Rights.

Click here to sign the petition!

Share Button

Senior Class Failures

The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. Photo By Burim (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. Photo By Burim (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Seniors Alvin and Eva Johnson spend most their time these days figuring out tough choices instead of the traveling they dreamed of when they retired a few years ago. They decide between going to doctor’s appointments, filling prescriptions or purchasing food. Their mortgage has been paid off, as well as their 27 year old car, leaving them only their daily living expenses to contend with.

But Alvin and Eva, like many seniors these days, have seen their fixed incomes not go far enough. They are able to live independently in their modest 938 square foot home, but the monthly checks leave little for the unexpected. “Our furnace broke two years ago,” Eva says. They were able to get the needed repairs before winter, but still have not finished paying for them. “It’s a good thing George (the repairman) knows us,” Alvin explains. “He sees us at church so knows we are doing the best we can.”

There is little chance that things for the Johnsons and other seniors will change for the better any time soon. Washington seems to have little interest in including these people in the discussion about poverty, entitlements and income inequality – and especially in the conversation about increasing the federal minimum wage.

In the discussion of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, we often hear all the advantages this will bring.Here are what the experts are saying, after conducting their research and studies on the issue:

  • 27.8 million workers would see their wages go up as a direct or indirect result of the boost
  • The growth in the U.S. economy would result in about 85,000 new jobs
  • 4.6 million people would rise above the poverty line
  • The increase would reduce the ranks of the nation’s poor by 6.8 million

These forecasters and economists, together with their commentators and pundits, have left completely out of the discussion a very important segment of America’s population if this plan is adopted in its present form. In all the discussion there has been no inclusion mentioning how this segment will be brought up income levels that do not threaten their survival even more.

By Woodennature (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Woodennature (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Have you stopped to think about the effects this will have on those who live on social security or disability benefits? The monthly benefits for these groups are figured using a COLA formula on an annual basis. As COLA remains relatively consistent compared to fluctuations in wages, this formula will not automatically adjust benefit amounts to recipients of the programs, resulting in an even wider gap between the bottom wage earners and those living on social security or disability fixed incomes.

This move will widen even more the gap these two vulnerable groups face in their struggle to manage day-to-day life on limited incomes. Here are a few more facts for you to consider:

  • One in seven seniors live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau
  • 4.8 million Americans over 60 are food insecure, doubling since 2001
  • Approximately 3.5 million seniors live in poverty, according to Census figures, but that number rises to about 6.2 million when health care costs are factored in
  • Homeless rates among the elderly will climb by 33 percent within a decade’s time

Until the national discussion takes into account our seniors and vulnerable, any talk of raising the minimum wage will result in even more impoverished conditions for these people. The great tragedy of the failed “trickle down economics” theory is still making grandma live without basic needs, while we talk about “family values” and our “Christian” nation. The war on the poor needs no ammunition or uniform – just a public with blinders will suffice.

Macro economics, anyone?

Share Button