The biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry began at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday at a McDonald’s at Madison Avenue and 40th Street, with several dozen protesters chanting: “Hey, hey, what do you say? We demand fair pay.”
From Walmart to fast-food, workers are demanding a living wage & the right to unionize!
Kennedy campaign ad - “More Facts About Mitt Romney” (by HuffPostPolitics)
The Huffington Post News Editors, huffingtonpost.com
TAMPA, Fla. — During these past four days at the RNC convention, janitors have worked around the clock picking up after delegates, conservative stars like Ann Coulter and Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), and the thousands of reporters in cavernous filing rooms. And many are doing so making less than minimum wage.
Carolyn Walker said she has been cleaning the convention center for 13 years. She had been making $8 per hour until a few years ago, when the cleaning contract went to another company, Cleanevent USA. The new company meant a new, downsized paycheck. She’s now making minimum wage — $7.67 per hour. But that wasn’t the only hit to her wallet.
Walker said the company charges her $6 per week for uniforms. “It stinks to tell you the truth,” she said. “We work very hard.” It effectively means she’s making less than Florida’s minimum wage.
|—||Jose M. Fernandez et al., The Impact of Living Wage Ordinances on Urban Crime (2012). Download the paper at SSRN. h/t CrimProf Blog. (via letterstomycountry)|
By the end of the work day I’m exhausted and dirty…Back at the Labor Ready office, I have to wait nearly 30 minutes to receive my check. The job paid $8 an hour—minimum wage. For five hours of labor, I get $37.34 after taxes. I am not paid, however, for the four hours on call, or the time spent in transit to and from the job site, or waiting to get paid. None of this meets the legal definition of wage theft, but it sure feels like it.
“Everyone Only Wants Temps,” in which our reporter signs up with this economy’s employer of last resort.
Amid Scranton’s ever-deepening financial crisis, Mayor Chris Doherty said his administration is going forward with a plan to unilaterally slash the pay of 398 workers to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour with today’s payroll, insisting it is all the city can afford.
That will likely earn administration officials an appointment with Judge Michael Barrasse, who granted the city’s police, fire and public works unions a special injunction temporarily barring the administration from imposing the pay cuts after a brief hearing Thursday.
“Get a job.”
Multiplying the minimum wage by a work year of 50, 40-hour weeks gives the annual earnings that can be expected from a minimum wage job. The real annual income from a minimum wage job is the blue bars. The red line is the poverty level real annual income for a family of four.
Minimum wages have never been sufficient to raise a family out of poverty, if only one member of the family works.
Jesse Jackson Jr. has introduced the “Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012.” Within sixty days of being enacted, it would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour, and beginning one year after that, would index it to the Consumer Price Index. For workers that rely on tips, the bill would mandate the cash wage to be 70 percent of the minimum wage and never less than $5.50 per hour.
“We’ve bailed out banks, we’ve bailed out corporations, we’ve bailed out Wall Street, we’ve tried to create sound fundamentals in the economy—now it’s time to bail out working people who work hard every day and they still only make $7.25,” Jackson said this morning at a news conference outside the US Capitol. “The only way to do that is to raise the minimum wage.”
The federal minimum wage increased in 2007, from $5.15 an hour. There hasn’t been any evidence that it caused businesses to hire less workers, and in fact research has shown that an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t create an increase in unemployment.
The seminal academic work on that topic was done by Alan Krueger, who is now chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. But alas, despite a campaign pledge to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by the end of 2011, President Obama has been silent and inactive on the issue.
But it’s a great way for the administration to essentially issue a stimulus package without calling it that. People earning $7.25 per hour—that is, $15,080 per year—are already living on the brink of poverty and are extremely unlikely to save the extra $2.75 per hour, but will instead spend it. Raising the minimum wage will pump badly needed spending power into a struggling economy, which would more than offset any corresponding decline in hiring.
Economist Dean Baker recently told the Huffington Post that it was a no-brainer, politically and economically. “I’m hard-pressed to see why we shouldn’t have the same [minimum] wage we did in the late ‘60s” when adjusted for inflation, he said. “This isn’t welfare. By definition, we’re talking about people who are working. It gets a lot of sympathy from the public, and guess what? It’s good for the economy right now.”
In Houston, more than 3,200 janitors clean the offices of some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world: JP Morgan Chase, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Wells Fargo, KBR and Marathon Oil, to name a few. For their labor, they are paid an hourly wage of $8.35 and earn an average of $8,684 annually. Two janitors together would earn about $17,300 a year—still well below the poverty line of $22,314 for a family of four.
Yesterday, the contract between the janitors and the cleaning contractors expired. SEIU Local 1 spent the past month trying to reach an agreement to raise the janitors’ hourly wage to $10 over the next three years. But the contractors countered with an offer of a $0.50 pay raise phased in over five years and—according to SEIU spokesperson Paloma Martinez—said that they “wouldn’t budge.” The contractors claimed that the building owners and tenants—the aforementioned corporations—aren’t willing to pay anything close to a living wage.
In response the janitors voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike. For workers already struggling on sub-poverty wages, this was no easy decision.
“The workers were really insulted by the offer,” said Martinez. “The contractors said they weren’t going to move and they blamed it on the building owners, but we all know the state of the real estate market here.”
With the city enjoying the fruits of the energy industry, Houston’s commercial real estate market is indeed the best performing market in the United States in terms of demand. It has the highest number of new corporate real estate projects in the nation, vacancy rates below the national average and rising rental rates.
Nevertheless, the city’s janitors are among the lowest paid in the nation, with workers in cities with far weaker real estate markets earning a significantly higher hourly wage: Cincinnati ($9.80), Cleveland ($10.30), Detroit ($10.97) and Chicago ($15.45) are a few examples.