By Dave Johnson
Today, President Obama will give a speech on his plan to grow the economy and the middle class. On Thursday, fast-food workers will strike in 100 cities and stage protests in 100 others to demand $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference from employers. Here’s something to consider: raising the minimum wage cuts government spending on Food Stamps and other programs.
The Minimum Wage
By Warren Reed
One thing has become disturbingly clear during the country’s anemic economic recovery. Middle-income jobs are disappearing, and they’re not coming back.
The corresponding decline of America’s middle class is something that should concern the entire nation, but as a military veteran, this development directly impinges on essential American freedoms, freedoms that I helped to safeguard during my eight years with the U.S. Marine Corps, 2nd Battalion.
Most of the growth in the recent economic recovery has been due to the growth in low-wage jobs.
But how free are you when you’re paid poverty wages? Not very free at all.
By Robert Reich
So how to explain this paradox?
As of November 1 more than 47 million Americans have lost some or all of their food stamp benefits. House Republicans are pushing for further cuts. If the sequester isn’t stopped everything else poor and working-class Americans depend on will be further squeezed.
We’re not talking about a small sliver of America here. Half of all children get food stamps at some point during their childhood. Half of all adults get them sometime between ages 18 and 65. Many employers – including the nation’s largest, Walmart – now pay so little that food stamps are necessary in order to keep food on the family table and other forms of assistance are required to keep a roof overhead.
By Derek Pugh
A new report from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley estimates that low-wage jobs in the fast-food sector are costing American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year.
The report—Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry—highlights the negative effects low-wage jobs have on the American economy and public. Workers in the fast-food industry are subjected to low pay with no benefits, forcing them to rely on public assistance programs to survive. The median worker is paid a mere $8.69 an hour, with many making at or near the minimum wage, and 87 percent do not receive health insurance through their employer.
By Terrance Heath
Fast food workers in 60 cities walked off the job on Friday, in the biggest strike ever to hit the $200 billion dollar fast food industry. The strike affected over 1,000 restaurants, and in some cities fast food workers were joined by retail workers from stores like Macy’s, Sears, Walgreen’s, and Victoria’s Secret.
By Mike Hall
The growing movement for a living wage and justice for fast-food and other low-wage workers will reach another milestone next week with a nationwide strike set for Aug. 29.
Following the success and public support of a walkout in eight cities earlier this month, those workers and the community, faith and labor groups that back them are calling on fast-food and low-wage retail workers across the nation to join them in the fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
By Rev. Dick Gillett
Something is happening among our low-wage workers in America.
Is the ghost of the Occupy movement stirring?
Probably, but maybe more. In just one astonishing week recently, the Seattle Times—a newspaper not known for being pro-labor—featured worker protests either as the lead story or prominently in the paper:
- On July 23 in the City of SeaTac, in a meeting jammed with workers and faith leaders, the city council reluctantly qualified a Good Jobs Initiative for the November ballot. The initiative would establish the city’s minimum wage at $15 an hour for hotel, restaurant workers and others, including workers at SeaTac airport.
By Martin J. Bennett
The New York Times recently characterized the economic recovery that officially began in 2009 as a "golden era for corporate profits." Indeed, corporate profits doubled between 2008 and 2011 and reached a record high.
However, these increased profits have fueled inequality and come at the expense of worker compensation. Profits are now a larger share of total national income, and wages and benefits are a smaller share than at any time since the 1960s.
Over the last four decades productivity gains have overwhelmingly accrued to business and not labor. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that between 1973-2011 productivity increased by 80 percent, but median hourly compensation by only 11 percent.
By Steve Smith
When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.
By Randy Shaw
In The Unwinding, New Yorker political writer George Packer argues that elite-driven economic policies have negatively "unwound" the lives of millions of Americans. This view is hardly uncommon, yet the June 9, 2013 Sunday New York Times Book Review found a reviewer - Republican and Times columnist David Brooks - to deny that the nation's elite have "failed." Brooks claims the elite "comes from the finest universities" and is the most "diverse" and "equal opportunity" elite in history - a defense of elite rule and polices that could come from a Jon Stewart parody.