Recognizing that wages in America have been stagnating for years, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon announced that the bank was giving 18,000 of its lowest waged employees a 20% pay raise. Now, that sounds really generous except when you looked at the details and realize just how laughable it is. In a vain glorious …
Tag: minimum wage
Jul 13 2016
Feb 14 2014
Have the House Democrats finally realized there is a way to beat the recalcitrant Republican majority? Somebody in the Democratic caucus must have been up watching old movies on Netflix and remembered an old House rule called a “discharge petition”
A discharge petition is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee and usually without cooperation of the leadership. Discharge petitions are most often associated with the U.S. House of Representatives, though many state legislatures have similar procedures. They are used when the chair of a committee refuses to place a bill or resolution on the Committee’s agenda; by never reporting a bill, the matter will never leave the committee, and the full House will not be able to consider it. A successful petition “discharges” the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution and brings it directly to the floor. The discharge petition, and the threat of one, gives more power to individual members of the House and usurps a small amount of power from the leadership and committee chairs. The modern discharge petition requires the signature of an absolute majority of House members (218 members). Only twice has it been used successfully on major legislation in recent history.
Rachel Maddow explains how congressional Democrats are considering the use of the discharge petition to get votes on immigration and the minimum wage.
Transcript can be read here
House Dems seek to force GOP’s hand on minimum wage hike
By Mike Lillis, The Hil
CAMBRIDGE, MD – House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans’ hand on the minimum wage.
The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders.
The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely.
“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded during the Democrats’ annual issues retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. [..]
Hoyer said he hasn’t yet surveyed the Democrats to learn exactly how many would endorse the discharge petition, but he predicted it will be “close to everybody.”
Schumer Offers Long-Shot Option to Skirt House G.O.P. on Immigration
By Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times
WASHINGTON – Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, offered a long-shot option on Thursday to revive the moribund effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws that would require the support of more than a dozen House Republicans – and, if nothing else, pressure others to act on an election-year issue that Tea Party-aligned members strongly oppose. [..]
Mr. Schumer was responding to a recent column in The Washington Post by E. J. Dionne Jr., suggesting that Democrats go the route of the discharge petition. He also suggested during a “Meet the Press” appearance on Sunday that Congress could pass immigration legislation this year, but delay its implementation until 2017, to assuage the concern of many Republicans who say they do not trust President Obama to enforce the laws.
Now the issue is getting enough Republicans to vote with the Democrats. It’s an election year and there are a number of Republican seats that are vulnerable. So what will the Republicans do if the Democrats get all their members to sign on to a discharge petition? The bigger question is will House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) be able to rally the troops? We’re watching.
Jan 10 2014
I should know better than to pay attention to the evening news on teevee. It just ticks me off. Not because I can’t handle the news, but because of the way that it’s slanted.
The other night I was watching the PBS Newshour’s feature on the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s “War on Poverty.” Among the talking heads that appeared to discuss it was Glenn Hubbard, economist for hire and notable shill for the financial services industry.
What really caught my attention the other night was this part of Hubbard’s discussion of what means the government ought to employ in order to mitigate poverty. The whole discussion is here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me bring you back in, Glenn Hubbard — striking that of course a lot of these same issues are now very much still on the table and back on the table, right, questions of economic inequality, and raising the minimum wage. There are the kinds of debates that we have on this program where you and Angela Blackwell might disagree on some of the policies, but you are still agreeing that something more needs to be done.
GLENN HUBBARD: These are huge issues. And something definitely needs to be done.
I guess I wouldn’t think the things like supporting higher minimum wages are the answer. I don’t think that provides employment. We do need to support skills for people coming in. And we need to support their incomes, things like the Earned Income Tax Credit. If we as a society want to provide better opportunities for work, we need to pay for it. Neither side of the aisle is in my view bold enough on this.
JEFFREY BROWN: But what — what — go ahead, Angela Blackwell.
ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: Yes.
If we raise the minimum wage to $10, five million people will be bought out of poverty. People who work shouldn’t be poor.
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Hubbard?
GLENN HUBBARD: I agree with that, but why use the minimum wage to do that, as opposed to the Earned Income Credit?
This is something that — as a society, if we want this, we should pay for it, not in terms of job loss for others, or higher prices, or lower profits. This is something we ought to pay for.
Hubbard’s 1% agenda is on full display here.
Looking at his claims in bold above:
Raising the minimum wage if done with enough rigor, will solve the problem of the millions of working poor people. When people work, they should be paid enough to support themselves.
Supports like the earned income tax credit (for people who work but don’t get paid enough to support themselves or their family) or food stamps, housing allowances, heating assistance and medicaid have become welfare for corporations, subsidizing corporations who cut costs by paying workers too little to maintain themselves. These corporations dump those costs on us.
How much do they dump on us? Billions of dollars every year:
According to a University of California Berkeley Labor Center and University of Illinois study out Tuesday, 52% of families of fast food workers receive assistance from a public program like Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. That’s compared to 25% of families in the workforce as a whole.
The report estimated that this public aid carries a $7 billion price tag for taxpayers each year. …
Public assistance isn’t just for those out of work, down on their luck, or in a short-term bind. It’s for those who are gainfully employed but earning such a low wage they can’t sustain themselves. Which is to say: The reason fast-food and other low-wage employers can get away with paying so little is because taxpayers subsidize the slack. The report estimates McDonald’s (ticker: MCD ) subsidy alone is worth $1.2 billion a year, which equates to more than a fifth of its 2012 profits.
If a corporation cannot afford to pay a living wage for a good or a service that it sells, we should not automatically subsidize it. If society has a need that is not being met by an enterprising corporation, it has other means of availing itself of products and services.
Raising the minimum wage meaningfully will also create jobs. As low wage worker pay rises, they will spend that money creating demand, which is the basis for the creation of jobs.
Recent research reveals that, despite skeptics’ claims, raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. In fact, throughout the nation, a minimum-wage increase under current labor market conditions would create jobs. Like unemployment insurance benefits or tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers, raising the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of working families when they need it most, thereby augmenting their spending power. Economists generally recognize that low-wage workers are more likely than any other income group to spend any extra earnings immediately on previously unaffordable basic needs or services.
Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2015, would give an additional $51.5 billion over the phase-in period to directly and indirectly affected workers, who would, in turn, spend those extra earnings. Indirectly affected workers-those earning close to, but still above, the proposed new minimum wage-would likely receive a boost in earnings due to the “spillover” effect (Shierholz 2009), giving them more to spend on necessities. [footnotes at link]
Hubbard’s proposal above amounts for a demand for welfare from the 1%; he wants us to subsidize their profits by paying part of their labor costs.
Just say no to the 1% when they start their poor-mouthing.
Dec 11 2013
One would think that the person we speak to behind the bullet proof plexiglass at the bank was paid enough to own his/her own home, put food on the table, have a good pension plan and health care insurance. Apparently, that is a myth. In NYC, one in three bank tellers need some form of public assistance and the average pay is only $11.59 per hour, three dollars below what is considered a living wage in big cities where the cost of living is highest. The recent focus has been on Walmart and fast food workers, now we can add bank tellers to the list of the underpaid
Thirty-nine percent of NYC-based bank tellers and their families rely on at least one government assistance program, like Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit or food stamps, which costs the city a total of $112 million per year (pdf), according to the study from the New Day New York Coalition, a group of progressive organizations. Researchers arrived at their findings through government data, as well as interviews with 5,000 bank workers in the New York area, who answered questions about stress, working conditions, pay practices and how the industry has changed since 2008. [..]
The study’s findings mirror trends nationwide and are yet another sign that the pool of so-called middle-class jobs is shrinking. Nearly one-third of the almost half-million bank tellers in the country rely on public assistance, according to an analysis by the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center. The Labor Center’s Ken Jacobs estimates that these employees’ reliance on such programs costs taxpayers nationwide roughly $900 million per year. [..]
Activists have been quick to point out that if companies like Walmart, McDonald’s and now big banks paid their workers more, fewer of them would have to lean on public assistance, saving taxpayers money. More than half of frontline fast food workers rely on government assistance, costing the nation $7 billion, according to an October report. A single Walmart store’s low wages could cost taxpayers $900,000 per year, according to a May report from Senate Democrats.
Dec 07 2013
Full transcript can be read here
Fast-food workers are walking off the job in about 100 cities today in what organizers call their largest action to date. Today’s strikes and protests continue a campaign that began last year to call for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Early this morning, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Hany Massoud headed to Times Square in New York City where a group of McDonald’s workers were joined by a crowd of hundreds of supporters to kick off their strike. We hear voices from the protest and speak to Camille Rivera of United NY, part of the newly formed New Day New York Coalition, which has organized this week of action to fight income inequality and build economic fairness.
US fast-food workers strike over low wages in nationwide protests
By Adam Gabatt, The Guardian
Thousands due to strike across 100 cities through the day in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality
Thousands of fast food and retail workers went on strike across the US on Thursday in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality.
In Chicago, hundreds of protesters gathered outside a McDonalds at 6.15am. As a large “Christmas Grinch” ambled about in freezing temperatures, demonstrators chanted for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour.
It was the first of nine strikes in Chicago, with employees at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Walgreens, Macy’s and Sears also due to walk off shift. Low wage workers were due to strike across 100 cities through the day, including Boston, Detroit, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles and St Louis.
“Poverty Wages in the Land of Plenty”
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don’t want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by. This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.
“Wal-Mart was put in an uncomfortable spotlight on what should be the happiest day of the year for the retailer,” Josh Eidelson told me, reporting on the coordinated Black Friday protests. “These were the largest protests we’ve seen against Wal-Mart … you had 1,500 stores involved; you had over a hundred people arrested.” Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom are in the U.S. It reported close to $120 billion in gross profit for 2012. Just six members of the Walton family, whose patriarch, Sam Walton, founded the retail giant, have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115 billion-$144 billion. These six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40 percent of the U.S. population.
Nov 13 2013
The push for an increase in the minimum wage has grown with the recent passing of an increase in New Jersey from $7.25 to 8.25 with annual increases based in inflation. The amendment to the state’s constitution passed with 61% of the vote over newly reelected Governor Chris Christie’s objection. A Gallup poll conducted Nov. 5-6 shows that an even greater percentage of Americans would vote for an even higher minimum wage. According to a White House official, the Obama administration supports the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour in increments of 95 cents.
The same Gallup poll that showed 76% of Americans support for the increase, also showed support across party lines with 58% of self-identified Republicans supporting it. So what’s the problem? The issue is congress’ feral children, the Tea Party coalition in both houses who have vowed to block it and would completely abolish the minimum wage if they had their way. These are the same extremists who would repeal child labor laws, as well.
Despite the objections of the radical minority, the wave for an increase of the minimum wage is swelling as RJ Eskow observes:
“There’s something happening here/what it is ain’t exactly clear …”
When Steve Stills wrote the dystopian anthem “For What It’s Worth” in 1966, it resonated with listeners who understood that great if half-hidden transformations were underway. There’s been a turn toward the dystopian in recent economic and social trends as well: Wall Street greed and criminality. The growing power of wealth over the political process. The rise of the Tea Party. The collapsing middle class. Growing inequalities of wealth. Lost social mobility.
But there were encouraging signs in 1966, as well as troubling ones, and that’s equally true today. Take the movement for a minimum wage. Voters in the state of New Jersey and the city of Tacoma, Washington voted to increase the minimum wage in last week’s election. These victories follow a series of polls which confirm that the general public holds strongly progressive views on issues which range from taxation to Medicare and Social Security.
Something is happening here.
Noam Scheiber, senior editor for The New Republic, spoke with Rachel Maddow about why economic populism is a wise strategy for Democrats.
Nov 03 2013
“We are the Workers, the Mighty, Mighty Workers
Everywhere We Go,
The People Want to Know
Who We Are, So We Tell Them….”
As I walked toward the demo of the Fast Food Workers in Union Square, I heard the words and sounds of this song and couldn’t help but grin. We were back! The workers that is – not the “middle class,” not the “deserving poor”, not “the 99%.” As a working class kid from a union factory family, I got it. Not only because you can’t really go around shouting “Middle Class of the World Unite” or “We are the Mighty Mighty Middle Class” – let’s face, it, it just doesn’t resonate – but because the very concept of “worker” which this movement seems to grasp intuitively changes the very nature of the struggle.
“The Middle Class,” “the poor” and even “the 99%” define us in terms of how much wealth we have or do not have, regardless of how we got it, in the upwardly mobile mantra of Capitalism. As workers we are defined, instead, by what we do, how we appropriate the materials and provide the services necessary for the survival and comfort of the human species. And that is a pretty important difference.
Obama’s “middle class” framing of all that is good and important in society (and god know we all want a better lifestyle) is no more than the standard capitalist divide and conquer, the promise of individual upward mobility for the few at the expense of the many. You too can be one of the chosen. And we often buy into it. We want to see ourselves as “better” because we have been able to buy our own home, or send our children to “private” or “charter” schools. And we rationalize that it is because we deserve it – we’re smarter, more industrious, stronger, our skills are more necessary–not due to the whim of the time and place we were born into or that our skills and success are built on the back of the skills and hard work of others.
All of us have known an aunt who raised kids, worked outside the home all her life, carried on intelligent conversations about the world’s problems, worked for the community and has ended up relatively destitute. What is her value? Is she poor because she deserved it? How about many of our young people today who bought the American Dream, worked hard, even went to college if they could afford it and now, through the vagaries of capitalism are jobless or working in low paying jobs that will not allow them to get that middle class dream (unless they can still inherit it from their parents)?
The term “workers” reunites the labor movement by removing the distinction between the mostly white, working middle class (who usually got their middle class lifestyle through union benefits that their grandfathers fought for) and the less affluent workers who are often people of color, single mothers, immigrants, and increasingly young college educated workers who missed out on the brass ring due to the recent failing economy. As one worker put it:
“I don’t care if you’re blue collar, white, collar, pink collar or no collar — all of us have value. Have you ever stopped to think how hard people work? The people who cook for you, the bus driver who drives you to work in the morning? The people who clean your house and your clothes? Have you ever stopped to say ‘thank you’? If you don’t know how to do that job, or if you don’t want to do that job, the best way to say thank you, no matter how much you make, is to stand in solidarity with us and RAISE THE MINIMUM wage!”
Oct 27 2013
October 25, 2013 – Bill Maher ended his show Friday night going after Republican opposition to the minimum wage, calling them out for opposing something that would make people less dependent on government handouts. He targeted McDonalds in particular, saying “until Ronald McDonald starts paying his employees a living wage, he has to wipe that fucking smile off his face.”
When did the American Dream become the path to indentured servitude?
This is the question the right has to answer. Do you want smaller government with less handouts, or do you want a low minimum wage? Because you cannot have both.
Aug 31 2013
If you're stuck working minimum wage jobs like I am, you know what everyone else who earns the lowest pay allowed by law knows: You can't live on minimum wage, certainly not on the part-time hours employers give.
That's why it's heartening to see fast food workers across the nation going on strike to demand better pay. I pull in $8.30 an hour at around twenty hours a week. I can't afford even the cheapest of apartments on that. As a single white male with no dependents, I am ineligible for most public assistance, including welfare, housing assistance, and medical assistance (Medicaid). I get a pittance in food stamps every month, but it's not enough to keep me fed on a regular basis. I'm lucky if I can eat once a day.
My entire paycheck is spent paying bills before I even get it deposited to my bank account, which is typically at or near empty. That is the reality for me and for everyone else who works a minimum wage job.
Some stupid motherfucker was posting on a friend's Facebook page yesterday about how unfair it would be if fast food workers got an increase in wages to earn the same amount as he does in his construction job, because he doesn't expect that an increase in the minimum wage would necessarily bring an increase in his own pay. According to him, we minimum wage monkeys don't do any real labor, and therefore don't deserve to make anywhere near the same amount of money as someone whose job involves backbreaking physical labor. This same stupid asshole thinks that we can get higher paying jobs if we wanted to, and that we don't want to. Bullshit. If I could get a job working construction, I'd be working it right now. I've applied for those jobs and they haven't even granted so much as one interview. Most require that I have my own transportation, which I can't afford because I don't make enough to afford my own vehicle. Those that don't haven't deigned to give me an interview either.
I can tell you right now that this ignoramus wouldn't last even one full shift working at McDonald's. He couldn't keep up with the fast pace, and he certainly couldn't deal with impatient, often angry customers, standing on his feet for eight hours or more. I've done that and it's exhausting. My back is still screwed up from nearly three years of bending over a work table marinating, trussing, and spitting chicken carcasses for roasting, and I left that job in 2005 — eight years ago. These days I grind lenses for an eyewear company for barely above my state's minimum wage. I have to clock out for lunch if I work over six hours, costing me a half hour's pay, because the corporation for which I work doesn't want to pay me for a shift that's long enough to necessitate taking a few minutes to restore my energy levels.
News articles about the fast food strike state that the demand for fifteen dollars per hour would raise pay for full-time workers to thirty-one thousand annually, more than double the current annual average of fifteen thousand. Some, however, quote workers pointing out that most minimum wage jobs don't provide full time hours. They allow twenty or under, meaning someone like me might make $7,500 a year or less, and very often it's a lot less.
In an article on NBC Washington, it's revealed that financial woes actually have a negative impact on a person's IQ. That is, the sheer stress of not being able to afford even the basics, like adequate food and drink, is literally making people dumber. Starvation wages lead to actual starvation, so the body can't get the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy brain. Financial worries force people to devote more of their mental power to worrying over how they'll afford to live, leaving much less time and energy for other matters.
Who the hell can live on the current minimum wage? No one, not without public assistance, which is already slashed to the bone with Republicans and Democrats cutting the social safety net even further. Many of us are either homeless or soon shall be (myself included). No one is out there advocating for us. No one is doing a damned thing to lighten our financial burden. The vast majority of our tax dollars (yes, we poor folk do pay taxes) go to fund wars and Wall Street, with things like education, housing, food, and Social Security getting less and less. Yet we're told by ignorant assholes to “suck it up”, stop asking for “handouts”, to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and make do or die. If we could do that on what we get paid, we would. But we can't, and even though we work and pay taxes (unlike the obscenely rich), we aren't allowed to have a say in how our tax dollars are spent.
So what's to be done? Well, I don't know about you, but I for one have no intention of crossing any picket lines, and neither should you. Don't let striking fast food workers do this all by themselves. Support them in whatever way you can. Join them, in fact. If you know in your heart that everyone has the right to work “a useful and remunerative job” that pays enough to live on, then join them in solidarity and demand an increase in the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. Call and write members of Congress in both houses, call and write the White House, march on Washington in the millions and shut the place down, join striking workers on the picket line, donate whatever money and food you can afford to help people who are starving.
This country and this planet are going to hell in a hand basket, but only if We the people let them. Don't let them.
Jul 30 2013
In a recent survey from the Associated Press, it was revealed the 80% of Americans will face near poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend. [..]
As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused – on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.
Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”
The host of MSNBC’s Now, Alex Wagner discussed the growing jobs, the middle class and bridging the gap in income inequality with Maya Wiley, Founder and President, Center for Social Inclusion; Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, Slate; and Jennifer Senior, Contributing Editor, NY Magazine.
At FDL News Desk, DSWright noted President Barack Obama’s admission in a New York Times interview that “he was worried that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.” He sums up that the president is finally facing the facts:
Hope has its limits, eventually people want the eloquence of rhetoric to be matched by the eloquence of action.
But there is little incentive to help the lower classes of American society. The Bush and Obama Administrations bent over backwards to bail out the rich during the financial crisis the rich caused and they’ve done a heck of a job. According to the Federal Reserve, while most Americans saw their wealth go down by 40% during the Wall Street crash and resulting Great Recession, the rich actually got richer.
So now the 99% are getting wise to the fact that the game has been rigged against them and that continuing on this course will only lead to poverty and stagnation – a realization that is scaring elites. People may be done hoping for change, they finally be understanding that power concedes nothing without demand.