States Blocking Cities From Raising Standards For Workers

Low Wage Protest

By Marni von Wilpert for Economic Policy Institute. On August 28, 2017, low-wage workers in St. Louis, Missouri, became the latest victims of state preemption laws. “Preemption” in this context refers to a situation in which a state law is enacted to block a local ordinance from taking effect—or dismantle an existing ordinance. In this case, St. Louis had raised its minimum wage above the state minimum—but was then forced to lower it back down when the Missouri state legislature preempted the local ordinance. Ironically, state preemption of labor standards has historically been used for good: to ensure that minimum labor standards are applied statewide. It is only in recent years that it has been so frequently used to take earnings and protections away from workers. This report looks at the rising use of preemption by state legislatures to undercut local labor standards.

Future Of Low-Wage Worker Movement May Depend On NYC Law

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By Max Zahn for Waging Nonviolence. New York City – Flavia Cabral doesn’t equivocate. She joined the fast food worker movement, she said, for a single reason: to put her daughter through college. Cabral, 53, of the Bronx, earned $7.25 per hour at McDonald’s when she stood alongside coworkers in her first single-day strike four years ago. Over 10 strikes later, she makes $12 per hour, thanks to a statewide minimum wage hike that will gradually elevate her pay to $15 by the end of 2018. Still, her goal remains out of reach. “I don’t have enough savings for my daughter to finish college,” she said. “I want her to graduate.” Cabral’s predicament is emblematic of one facing the Fight for $15: how to move beyond its titular demand to address other barriers that are keeping fast food workers from a middle class life. These obstacles include insufficient hours, non-union workplaces and crippling expenses like housing, health insurance and college education.

Raising The Minimum Wage Is Not The End Goal—We Need To Challenge Capital Itself

Protestors march in a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington to push for a raise to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, on July 22, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

By Richard D. Wolff for Truth Out – Once more with feeling, the old debate rises into the headlines and the talk show circuit: Should governments — state, federal or local — raise the minimum wage or not? Employers of minimum-wage workers weigh in to say “no.” But that raises a PR problem: It looks bad to advocate keeping workers’ wages so low. So, they make a better-looking claim: that raising minimum wages causes some employers to fire low-paid workers rather than pay them more. Their opposition to raising minimum wages then morphs into an advocacy for low-paid workers to keep their jobs. Workers and their allies mostly take the bait. They weigh in with counterarguments. These mostly respond directly, claiming that raising minimum wages does not lead to significant job losses. Over the decades, professional economists and statisticians (increasingly overlapping sets) have entered the debate. Their entry resolved nothing. Every few years, the debate has flared up again. The economists write articles and books that enrich their resumes. Some score research grants from foundations, business lobbies and labor groups to prepare shiny new versions of the old arguments.

States Seeking To Preempt Minimum Wage Increases By Cities

Low Wage Protest

By Staff of National Employment Law Project. State legislatures around the country are attempting to bar cities and counties from passing their own minimum wage laws through “preemption” laws that take away a locality’s power to enact such measures. Local minimum wage laws play a key role in ensuring that a worker can afford the basics in cities or counties where the cost of living is higher than in other parts of the state. While proponents of preemption often claim that their main concern is to avoid a “patchwork” of wage levels within a state, in reality, these bills are motivated by a desire to block higher wages. Ultimately, preemption of local minimum wage laws is a priority for big business. Advocates, workers, and legislators who support an economy that works for all should oppose the preemption of local minimum wage laws. Many States Authorize Cities & Counties to Enact Local Minimum Wage Laws; Over 40 Cities & Counties Have Successfully Enacted Such Laws.

Minimum Wage Tracker

Wisconsin Jobs Now / Flickr

By Staff of The Economic Policy Institute – The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. In the absence of action at the national level, many states and localities have raised their own minimum wages. Explore the map to see how these rapidly changing laws differ across the country, and read EPI’s recent research explaining the benefits of raising the minimum wage and eliminating the subminimum wage for tipped workers.

Minimum Wage Of $15 An Hour Passed In Minneapolis

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By Staff of NELP and Fight for $15. Since the Fight for $15 began in November 2012, more than 40 cities and counties, and more than 20 states have adopted minimum wage increases. NELP estimates that about 19 million workers have won almost $62 billion in annual raises, and a growing numbers of U.S. states and cities in just the last few years are adopting a minimum wage of $15 per hour. SeaTac, Washington, which was the first city to do so, approved a $15 minimum wage in 2013. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee brokered an agreement between labor and business to place a $15 minimum wage on the November 2014 ballot, which the voters overwhelmingly approved, and the Los Angeles city council approved a $15 minimum wage in 2015. California and New York approved a statewide $15 minimum wage in 2016. About 10 million workers have benefitted from these $15 minimum wage laws so far. An increase in the Minneapolis minimum wage to $15 per hour will benefit 23 percent of workers in Minneapolis, or approximately 71,000 people.

Veteran Organizer Gives Inside Look At The First $15 Minimum Wage Campaign

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By Jonathan Timm for In These Times – Back in 2011, as the Occupy Wall Street movement was still spreading through the country, a smaller standoff was unfolding at Sea-Tac, the international airport in the small, eponymous town between Seattle and Tacoma that serves both cities. Along with some of her coworkers, Zainab Aweis, a Somali Muslim shuttle driver for Hertz car rental, was on her way to take a break for prayer, when her manager stepped in front of the doorway. “If you guys pray, you go home,” the manager said. As devout Muslims, Aweis and her fellow staff were dedicated to praying five times a day. Because it only takes a few minutes, their employer had previously treated the prayers like smoke breaks—nothing to worry about. Suddenly, the workers were forced to choose between their faith and their jobs. “I like the job,” Aweis thought, “but if I can’t pray, I don’t see the benefit.” As she and others continued to pray, managers started suspending each Muslim worker who prayed on the clock, totaling 34. The ensuing battle marked a flashpoint in what would eventually be the first successful $15 minimum wage campaign in the country. The story of these Hertz workers, and the many others who came together to improve their working conditions, is recounted in Beyond $15…

Call For Global Unity On May Day

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By James E. Rabbitt, III. This May Day (Monday, May 1, 2017), workers worldwide are invited to participate in an unprecedented call for global unity demanding that all full-time workers are paid a living wage by means of a May Day General Strike, which transcends borders and all other divides among fellow workers. The success of this event is dependent upon word of mouth and social media to invite others who will collectively stand together in solidarity to end the unjustifiable inhumane suffering and exploitation of underpaid workers everywhere. This act of global unity to improve the quality of life for millions, possibly even billions, of people can be held at every place of employment, with workers determining which type of strike is best suited for their unique workplace (i.e. sick-ins, picketing, good work strikes, etc.).

When Voters Approve Minimum Wage Increase, Corps Fight It

From prwatch.org

By Editors of PRWatch – Voters spoke very clearly on November 8 when they elected to raise the minimum wage in Arizona and Maine, along with Colorado and Washington State. But those wins, the democratic process, and the express will of the people are being defied and denied in Arizona and Maine, where corporate lobbyists and their legislative allies are working to block, delay, even rewrite the laws approved on Election Day. These efforts to flout voter-approved laws are part of ongoing conservative and corporate-backed strategies to keep wages low.

Workers Strike Back From Boston To Chicago

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By Fight for Fifteen. NATIONWIDE – Strikes by baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Uber drivers in two-dozen cities, hospital workers in Pittsburgh and McDonald’s and other fast-food cooks and cashiers from coast to coast, combined with mass civil disobedience by working Americans across the service economy, will headline a nationwide Fight for $15 day of disruption Tuesday. In addition to the strikes demanding $15 and union rights, the workers will wage their most disruptive protests yet to show they will not back down in the face of newly-elected politicians and newly-empowered corporate special interests who threaten an extremist agenda to move the country to the right. The protests, at 20 major airports, which serve 2 million passengers a day, and outside McDonald’s restaurants from Durham to Denver, will underscore that any efforts to block wage increases, gut workers’ rights or healthcare, deport immigrants, or support racism or racist policies, will be met with unrelenting opposition by workers in the Fight for $15.

Minimum Wage, Marijuana, Gun Control & Other Issues Win Voters’ Approval

Reminder to vote by Light Brigading used under CC BY-NC 2.0

By Liz Essley Whyte for the Center for Public Integrity. Despite massive losses for Democrats in races from the White House to governors’ offices Tuesday, those on the left celebrated some significant victories with state ballot measures. From marijuana to minimum wage to gun control laws, they won many key initiatives among the 162 statewide measures — part of a concerted plan put in motion more than a year ago to circumvent Republican-led legislatures and take policy questions directly to voters. Progressive advocates appeared to lose major healthcare initiatives in California and Colorado, however. The Center for Public Integrity tracked how those fighting over these measures shaped their messages with TV ads, typically an expensive yet far-reaching endeavor. Media tracker Kantar Media/CMAG estimates that more than $384 million was spent through Monday just to air TV ads about such measures this election.

‘Tired Of Waiting’ For Politicians, Minimum Wage On Ballot In Four States

"We all know that our economy is broken. We have seen that elected officials are just failing to do anything about it," said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project. (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/cc/flickr)

By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Voters, “tired of waiting” for federal lawmakers, will soon be casting their ballot in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington to raise the grossly inadequate minimum wage and, advocates hope, raise the standard of living for roughly 2.1 million Americans. While none of the four ballot measures goes so far as to call for the $15 an hour wage that has been the rallying cry of the low wage worker movement and which became a pillar of Sen.

The Real Living Wage? $17.28 An Hour – At Least

Image: Low wage workers take part in a protest organized by the Coalition for a Real Minimum Wage outside the offices of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,

By Julie Chinitz for Our Future – Fifteen dollars shouldn’t be too much to ask – or demand. In almost every state, a worker needs more than $15 an hour to make ends meet. Add in student debt, and the minimum living wage shoots up to $18.67 an hour nationally. A family with children needs significantly more. That’s according to new research from People’s Action Institute, which calculates the national living wage at $17.28.

Raising Minimum Wage Does Not Kill Jobs

AP Photo/Mike Groll

By Molly Cain for Talk Poverty – Raising the minimum wage would help a lot of Americans. It would raise wages for 35 million workers, bring 4.5 million people out of poverty, and reduce the wage gaps that plague women and people of color. Local movements to raise the minimum wage have started to take hold—30 cities have raised their minimum wages since 2014—but the minimum wage has not been increased at the federal level for seven years.

A Convention For The 64 Million Americans Paid Less Than $15/Hour

LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS

By Antoin Adams for The Huffington Post – In the nearly 100 degree heat this weekend, I joined thousands of fast-food and other underpaid workers in Richmond, VA—the capital of the former Confederacy— to lead the first-ever Fight for $15 National Convention. It wasn’t a typical convention like you see on TV: We didn’t endorse any candidates, and there weren’t speeches from politicians. Instead, we came together in Richmond to highlight the racist policies that are holding back workers of color nationwide, and to mobilize the 64 million Americans paid less than $15/hour ahead of the 2016 election.