Tag Archives: Minimum Wage

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

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‘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

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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!

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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?

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No new rides at “Wally-world”

By Gretschman for Occupy World Writes

In a story published by Reuters on January 15th, more than 60 Wal-Mart  supervisors and one corporate officer were named in a National Labor Relations Board complaint. The complaint states that Wal-Mart violated labor laws in 14 states in May and June of 2013. Dozens of employees received verbal and written warnings as well as formal reprimands and other disciplinary action for striking for improved wages and working conditions.

Since May 2013 Wal-Mart has improperly categorized workers’ time spent participating in these legally protected strikes as “unexcused absences.”

If the administrative law judge assigned to this case finds Wal-Mart guilty AND the NLRB panel upholds the judges’ finding, will Wal-Mart bargain in good faith with its’ employees, or will it simply eliminate the positions of the workers it reprimanded, just like it did to the meat cutters who voted to unionize in Tyler, Texas?

Wal-Mart officials seem to believe that no one deserves a living wage except for the thirteen folks who meet in the corporate boardroom in Bentonville and the members of the Walton family, who held five spots in the top ten richest people in the United states until 2005. The fact that these billionaires refuse to pay their employees living wages speaks to an inequality of wealth model that is unsustainable.

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the Wal-Mart employees in their fight for  a living wage and just working conditions.

Come on, Wal-Mart! Live up to your corporate slogan and ensure your employees can “Save Money” and “Live Better.” They deserve it.

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