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Minimum Wage: Is $15/Hour Enough?

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Minimum wage debates are never-ending and often polarizing. What I can say with certainty is that the stagnation of the minimum wage for the last 12 years is unfortunate when we see the quick uptick in inflation. In the latest report from June 2021, inflation jumped to 5.4% year-on-year, compared to last year’s rate of 0.6%. 

Minimum wages leave even the hardest of workers struggling to make ends meet. The simplest thing that we can do is to advocate for decent, livable wages for all to ensure the opportunity for economic security no matter who you are, where you work or where you live. 

That, however, begs the question: how do we set the new minimum wage? In reality, how can we settle on one number, such as $15/hour,  when each individual city has dramatically different costs of living and each state has a unique tax burden? 

Today’s Wages

Stuck at $7.25, the reality of the federal minimum wage is that in the largest U.S. cities, this kind of wage just won’t cut it. Even $15/hour isn’t enough in most areas.

Some might boast of a news release from the BLS declaring the increase in average hourly earnings rose 3.6% in June 2021, but this is likely not true for every worker and definitely does not keep up with inflation. 

It’s a complicated issue but there are many places in America where people aren’t making enough to buy necessities or even pay rent. They opt out of health insurance or simply going to the doctor for fear of what they may owe when all is said and done. 

Sure, many states and cities have mandated higher local minimum wages. Unfortunately, those increases often aren’t enough. 

For example, New York City’s minimum wage is set at $15-an-hour. According to this data study, factoring in local taxes, utilities, food, rental costs and transit as part of the core budget, a single New Yorker would be left with around $70 for hobbies, insurance, student loan payments, emergency expenses or simply to save. (Case in point: this homeless Amazon worker making $19.30 an hour.)

Inflation and City-Adjusted Wages

One minimum wage movement that has made the most waves across the nation is the Fight for $15. An estimated 26 million workers have been positively impacted by changes made in response to this demand for more livable wages. 

This movement was launched 12 years ago. If we used the current rates of inflation that would mean that this movement should now be pushing for $17.75 an hour.  

I’m no economist or financial expert, but it seems reasonable to me that taking inflation and each city’s cost-of-living into account, a minimum wage formula could be devised and additional wages could be adjusted according to some city-specific metrics such as the local price parity.

This blog is printed with permission.

About the Author: Kristen Klepac is a writer and content specialist who really misses music festivals. She currently resides in France where she often works on creating data-focused content that reveals unexpected trends on everything from crypto to city-based demographic reports. 


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Fight for $15 Movement Has Won $150B in Wage Raises for 26M Workers in Less Than a Decade

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Home - National Employment Law Project

New York, NY—The worker-of-color-led Fight for $15 and a union movement has won $150 billion in raises for 26 million workers to date, according to a new report from National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Twelve million of the 26 million impacted workers (46 percent) are Black, Latinx, or Asian American; and of the $150 billion in total raises that workers have secured, $76 billion has gone to workers of color and $70 billion to women workers.

New York City fast-food workers first walked off their jobs in November 2012, demanding a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Since then, the movement for higher wages has become one of the most successful workers’ movements in recent memory, leading to higher wages in dozens of states, cities, and counties; putting pressure on some of the world’s largest corporations to raise their pay scales; and transforming public opinion.

“Since 2012, the Fight for $15 movement has brought together thousands of workers across the country, who organized and called for higher wages and union rights. Our report quantifies the impact of this movement in terms of the number of workers who have benefitted, and the higher earnings they have won,” says NELP Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst Yannet Lathrop, who co-authored the study along with San Jose State University Professor T. William Lester and University of North Carolina doctoral candidate Matthew Wilson.

Lathrop continues: “What’s most impressive is that workers have won these wage increases despite every imaginable obstacle­—from a system increasingly stacked against workers and labor unions, to interference from some of the most nefarious corporations, who deployed well-paid lobbyists to fight tooth and nail against higher minimum wages. But workers won in the end. That should tell us that when workers organize, they win.”

These massive wins—amounting to $5,700 in additional annual income per worker—have made a real material difference in the lives of the nation’s millions of underpaid workers and their families. The impact is particularly significant for workers of color—for example, the report finds that state minimum wage increases boosted the earnings of Black workers by $5,100 annually on average; and that local minimum wage increases raised their earnings by $7,300.

While the Fight for $15 movement has been successful, many members of Congress have refused to heed the demands of their constituents and raise the federal minimum wage. July 24 marks 12 years since the federal minimum wage last went up, leaving the millions of workers in the 20 states with wages at the federal minimum—or with no state minimum wage—with income that has not been livable for a very long time. This is structurally racist in design and effect, as most Black workers in the U.S. live in these states.

Congress must listen to the demands of the workers and communities of color leading the movement for higher wages and immediately pass the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, with One Fair Wage for tipped workers, workers with disabilities, and youth workers.

“The Black and brown workers leading the Fight for $15 and a union have heroically transformed public discourse on wages, worker power, and workplace democracy—while achieving major policy wins and taking on exploitive corporations,” says NELP Executive Director Rebecca Dixon. “Longstanding racist policy choices have created labor market inequities, segregating workers of color and women—most of all Black women—into jobs with low pay, stagnating those wages. Now Congress must deliver on the demands of this movement, which would advance racial and gender equity in the U.S. and improve the lives of all workers, their families, and communities.

Along with the campaign to pass the federal Raise the Wage Act, workers in the Fight for $15 are organizing to win just-cause employment protections across the country, protections from sexual harassment and violence on the job, living wages above $15, and crucially, the union rights that will help secure all of these demands.

Members of Congress must urgently follow workers’ lead as a matter of civil rights and racial and gender justice.

Read the full report here.

This post originally appeared at NELP on July 27, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting underpaid and unemployed workers.


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Quantifying the Impact of the Fight for $15: $150 Billion in Raises for 26 Million Workers, with $76 Billion Going to Workers of Color

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Introduction

In late November 2012, a small group of fast-food workers in New York City walked out of their jobs in response to low wages[1] and the challenges of organizing a union in a high-turnover and high-exploitation industry.[2] These workers—many of them Black and brown—would launch one of the most successful worker movements of the 21st century, as their demands echoed across the country, spreading the call for a $15 minimum wage and a union.

The Fight for $15, as the movement inspired by these walkouts would be called, sparked waves of action to raise the minimum wage in the ensuing years, leading dozens of states, cities, and counties to raise their wages; putting pressure on some of the world’s largest corporations to raise their pay scales; and informing the national conversation on living wages, workplace democracy, and equity.

This report quantifies the wage impact of the Fight for $15. Using U.S. Census data, we estimate that 26 million workers have been boosted by higher minimum wage policies passed by all levels of government since 2012—winning over $150 billion in additional annual income.[i] We also find that the Fight for $15 has helped raise the earnings of nearly 12 million workers of color and 18 million women—likely helping narrow the racial and gender wage gaps (though a wage gap analysis is beyond the scope of this report).

Crucially, this worker-led movement delivered these additional earnings despite the racist, sexist, and anti-worker system of laws and political climate in the United States—with laws in place around the country that permit forced arbitration,[3] wage preemption,[4] misclassification,[5] wage theft,[6] and ongoing attacks on the few parts of our system that actually aid working people.[7]

THE ECONOMIC CONTEXT

Since the end of the Great Depression, U.S. productivity has grown rapidly—an indication that workers are producing more goods and services and creating more wealth. Yet, worker pay has barely budged, while CEO pay has soared. In the four decades between 1978 and 2018, inflation-adjusted CEO compensation (base salary and realized stock options) grew by 940 percent, while median worker pay grew just 12 percent.[8] According to an analysis commissioned by the New York Times, in 2020 alone CEO pay grew by 14 percent, while median worker pay grew by less than 2 percent.[9]

Between 1948 and 1973, real hourly wages increased in proportion to the overall growth in productivity. As the U.S. economy grew, the gains were shared with workers on a roughly proportional basis.  However, since 1973, wages for the most underpaid workers have not kept pace with growth of our economy and total labor productivity.[10] In essence, corporations have not equitably shared the returns of our formidable growth in national productivity with the underpaid workers who made those gains possible.

By 2017, productivity was growing more than twice as fast as the growth in real median wages.[11] Many economists have interpreted this trend as an example of the diminishing power of workers relative to employers.[12] Increased globalization and the declining power of unions have contributed to the loss of bargaining power. But another factor is the declining value of the federal minimum wage, which places a floor on wages in the labor market.

The federal minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 per hour in 2009. In 2021, it remains at that level.

The federal minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 per hour in 2009. In 2021, it remains at that level, making this twelve-year period the longest in which the federal minimum wage has remained unchanged since the U.S. first enacted a federal minimum wage in 1938. The real value of the federal minimum wage is now only 59 percent of its peak value in 1968.[13]

Thirty states and Washington, D.C. have minimum wage levels that currently exceed $7.25 per hour—however, twenty other states follow the federal rate or do not have a state minimum wage at all. Of the states with minimum wages higher than the federal minimum, eleven states[ii] and Washington D.C. have legislated additional increases to $15 over the next few years.

The Fight for $15 has highlighted the disconnect between state and U.S. legislators who refuse to raise wages—most of whom represent states with $7.25 minimum wages—and their constituents, many of whom support a $15 minimum wage. As worker-activists in states stuck at $7.25 have made clear, zip codes should not determine whether workers are able to earn a baseline living wage.

Main Findings

In this report, we find:

  • General Impact: From 2012 to January 2021, an estimated 26 million workers have won over $150 billion[iii] in additional income through a combination of state and local minimum wage increases[iv] and an executive order for federal contractors. The affected workers comprise nearly 16 percent of the U.S. labor force. To put the $150 billion in perspective, this figure is more than 94 times the impact ($1.6 billion) of the last federal minimum wage increase to $7.25, which took effect in 2009.[14]
  • Impact on Workers of Color: Of the 26 million workers, nearly 12 million (46 percent) are Black, Latinx, or Asian American. Their additional annual income totals $76 billion—approximately 50 percent of the total for all workers.
  • Impact on Women: Women comprise approximately 13 million (50 percent) of all impacted workers. Their share of the additional annual earnings is nearly $70 billion—46 percent of the total.
  • Impact of $15 Minimum Wage Laws: Of the $150 billion in additional income for affected workers, the overwhelming share (73 percent, or nearly $111 billion) is the result of minimum wage increases in states and localities that are either on a path to $15 or have already reached a $15 or higher minimum wage. Workers affected by these laws make up 69 percent of the total.

WORKERS OF COLOR HAVE SEEN STRONG GAINS FROM FIGHT FOR $15 MINIMUM WAGE WINS

Workers of color and their economic and political demands played a significant role in shaping the movement for higher wages. [xvi] These workers have been among the most impacted by the Fight for $15, as our analysis shows.

Higher wages benefit all workers, but they can have a greater impact in communities that have been historically underpaid due to structural racism, sexism, and the enduring occupational segregation that pushes workers of color into the most underpaid jobs in the economy. This means that changes to minimum wage policies can have a profound effect in reducing racial inequity, as the workers of color leading the Fight for $15 and a union have emphasized.

A recent study by University of California economists estimates that minimum wage increases from 1990 to 2019 reduced the Black-white wage gap by 12 percent.[xvii] A separate study estimates that the 1966 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act—which expanded minimum wage protections to previously excluded occupations in which workers of color were overrepresented—explains more than 20 percent of the reduction in the racial earnings and income gaps between 1967 and 1980.[xviii]

In addition to narrowing the racial wage, earnings and income gaps, higher minimum wages can also substantially increase the earnings of workers of color. Table 2, above, shows that workers of color represent 46 percent of all workers impacted by minimum wage increases between 2012 and 2021. Of the more than $150 billion in annual additional income resulting from Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases, the share going to workers of color was nearly $76 billion (50 percent).

Tables 5 and 6 provide further details of the impact of the Fight for $15 for workers of color. They show that state minimum wage increases boosted the earnings of Black workers by $5,100 annually on average; and that local minimum wage increases raised their earnings by $7,300. The incomes of Latinx and Asian American workers rose faster: State-level minimum wage policies boosted their annual earnings by $6,300; and local increases raised their annual earnings by $8,300 and $8,200, respectively. By comparison, state and local minimum wage increases raised the earnings of white workers by $4,900 and $7,200, respectively—below the averages for workers of color and for all workers.

Black and brown worker-leaders in the Fight for $15 have not only advocated for higher wages, but have also pointed to worker power and workplace democracy as essential to increasing racial equity. These workers are now fighting to strengthen other workplace protections, such as just-cause job protections, union recognition, stronger health and safety standards, and wage theft protections.

THE FIGHT FOR $15 HAS BOOSTED WOMEN’S EARNINGS BY $70 BILLION

Since the 1970s, women’s educational attainment has increased substantially[xix], which typically correlates to higher earnings. Yet, women continue to earn less than men,[xx] and continue to be overrepresented among the underpaid workforce.

According to a 2018 analysis by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), women comprise nearly two-thirds of workers earning at or under $11.50 per hour.[xxi] In a separate analysis, NWLC finds that women make up 60 percent or more of the workforce in four of the five fastest-growing occupations. Of these, three occupations—personal care aides, home health aides, and combined food preparation and serving workers (including fast food)—pay low wages.[xxii] Women’s overrepresentation in underpaid occupations is one of the factors that drive the gender wage gap. Yet, research shows that higher minimum wages can help narrow this gap.[xxiii]

Of the more than $150 billion in annual additional income resulting from Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases, the share going to women was nearly $70 billion (46 percent).

The tables below provide further details of the impact of the Fight for $15 on women. Table 7 shows that state minimum wage increases boosted the annual earnings of affected female workers by $5,100 per worker on average, and by over $58 billion in the aggregate. Table 8—which reflects the impact of minimum wage increases in nine cities and counties for which we have data—shows that local minimum wage increases raised women’s earnings by $7,400 per worker, and by more than $11 billion in the aggregate. (More detailed figures can be found in Appendix Tables E-1 to F-2).Table 3, above, shows that women represent 50 percent of all workers impacted by minimum wage increases between 2012 and 2021. Of the more than $150 billion in annual additional income resulting from Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases, the share going to women was nearly $70 billion (46 percent). (The slightly lower income gains for women, compared with men, are likely the result of women’s overrepresentation among part-time workers[xxiv]—a reflection of gender roles that are slow to change, which have been shown to impact women’s career decisions).[xxv]

The benefit of higher wages for women and their dependents cannot be understated. With existing conditions and a government and corporate response rooted in systemic racism and sexism, the COVID-19 pandemic harmed women—particularly women of color—more than men. In the first ten months of the pandemic, women lost 1 million more jobs than men, and in the month of December 2020, alone, all of the job losses were borne by women of color.[xxvi] According to research by the National Women’s Law Center and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, women are more likely than men to experience poverty during their working years, particularly, if they are raising children as single mothers.[xxvii] Children raised by single mothers are also more likely (33 percent) to experience poverty than children raised by single fathers (21 percent).[xxviii] Higher incomes resulting from minimum wage increases are likely to have some mitigating impact on poverty for women and families.[xxix]

MOST OF THE GAINS STEM FROM STATE AND LOCAL MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES TO $15 OR MORE

Since 2012, eleven states[6] and 45 localities have adopted laws that put them on a path to $15. As Table 4, above, shows, these laws account for the bulk of the impacts on workers: 18 million workers (69 percent of the total) and nearly $111 billion in additional income (73 percent of total). Appendix Tables G and H list state and local jurisdictions on a path to $15.

Although state-level $15 minimum wage laws have had the most impact—accounting for 56 percent of all worker impacts, and 55 percent of all income increases—local jurisdictions have led the way in raising wages to $15 or more. The Fight for $15 was initially a local effort—a fast-food worker strike in New York City. However, it quickly spread, winning the first of many victories in SeaTac, Washington in 2013, followed by Seattle and San Francisco in 2014.

From there, the movement was able to scale up to states, with California and New York adopting gradual increases to $15 in 2015, around the same time as additional local jurisdictions were considering their own $15 minimum wage laws. The leadership of cities and counties in raising wages—pushed by local workers and communities—has been one of the main forces behind state action for higher wages to $15;[xxx] and now they are leading the way for even higher wages beyond $15.

Conclusion

Since 2012, the Fight for $15—a worker- and people of color-led movement—has achieved what our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. could not: Raise wages in dozens of states, cities, and counties, winning $150 billion in raises for 26 million workers. The impact of these raises is 94 times that of the last federal minimum wage increase, which took effect in 2009. These are real, material gains for millions of people—affecting workers’ ability to buy groceries, pay rent, attend school, and care for their families.

Despite this incredible achievement, the need for higher wages remains. Twenty states follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or do not have a minimum wage law of their own.[xxxi] Many of these states are located in the South, where a majority of African Americans live and work.[xxxii] These 20 states have not only failed to raise wages, but most also prohibit cities and counties within their borders from adopting their own minimum wage laws.[xxxiii]

It is crucial that the U.S. Congress finally pass a federal baseline wage of $15 an hour or higher, with One Fair Wage for tipped workers, young workers, and workers with disabilities.

That is why it is so crucial for the U.S. Congress to finally pass a federal baseline wage of $15 an hour or higher, with One Fair Wage for tipped workers, young workers, and workers with disabilities. With the Raise the Wage Act, Congress has an opportunity to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.00 over five years,[xxxiv] a proposal that enjoys wide support from voters.[xxxv] Without congressional action, underpaid workers in states that follow the federal minimum wage will continue to be guaranteed only a poverty wage of $7.25. These workers, who are disproportionately workers of color, will fall further and further behind other workers around the country.

The success of the movement for higher wages—demonstrated so clearly by the impact numbers highlighted in this report—only reaffirms how far out of step lawmakers in Congress are from their constituents, as they continue to refuse to raise the federal minimum wage. But just as the Fight for $15 and a union movement has won raises in cities, counties, and states nationwide, it is only a matter of time before workers win a $15 minimum wage on the federal level, and other labor protections at all levels of government—including just cause, union rights, and even wages above $15, which are increasingly necessary around the country.

Crucially, all of these policies are also essential to increasing racial equity. Structural anti-Black racism is at the core of why workers are so underpaid nationwide.[xxxvi] Illustrative of anti-Black racism are the segregation of the labor market that pushes many workers of color into underpaid jobs;[xxxvii] the original exclusion of whole categories of workers from minimum wage protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act;[xxxviii] and voting discrimination[xxxix] and wage preemption laws[xl] that prevent Black workers in these states from having a fair say in the policies that determine their lives.

Congressional lawmakers can either put their weight behind the worker activism and the racial and gender justice imperative of raising wages now, or they can bury their heads further into the sand, as workers win in spite of them.

Methodology

Our methodological approach follows one originally created by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley,[xli] who first forecasted the impact of the proposed $15-per-hour Los Angeles citywide minimum wage.[xlii]

This approach relies upon estimating what would have happened to wages if no minimum wage increases were ever passed. Specifically, we estimate the wage distribution in each state and selected localities for each year from 2012—when the Fight for $15 began—up to 2021 to establish a baseline scenario. This is referred to as a “counterfactual” wage distribution. To do this, we reconstructed what the minimum wage was in each state in 2011 and assume that minimum wages were kept at this level (i.e., without the Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases). The starting point for the counterfactual wage projection was the observed total wage income from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata.  Reported wages were then inflated by the average rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U in the period from 2012 to 2020.

To capture the impacts of Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases, we constructed the actual minimum wage stepped increases by states and localities. We define an affected worker as an individual respondent with a projected baseline wage below the mandated minimum wage in 2021. Since the ACS does not report wage income on an hourly basis, we estimate the hourly wage for each worker by dividing total annual wage income by the product of usual hours worked per week and number of weeks worked per year.

To determine the number of affected workers, we first calculated the hourly wage for each employed respondent in the baseline scenario (as described above). Then we estimate the total number of employed workers with baseline wages below the mandated minimum wage in 2021 by state and locality. To calculate the income increases for workers, we first calculate the earnings difference per hour between the baseline wage and the mandated minimum wage for affected workers. Then, we convert the hourly earnings difference to a 2021 annual figure by multiplying the difference by the usual hours worked per week and the usual weeks worked per year (from the ACS).  The 2021 figures for workers affected and income increases for workers were adjusted based on the total population change in states and localities to reflect change in the population bases that have been impacted by Fight for $15-influenced minimum wage increases.

Cities and counties included as local areas in this analysis were determined by data availability in the 2011 ACS public use microdata sample (PUMS). The 1-Year ACS sample does identify smaller cities and/or larger cities in cases where disclosure rules would be violated. (The U.S. Census maintains disclosure controls to protect the privacy of survey respondents).[xliii] Therefore, in order to comply with disclosure rules, our analysis using the methods described above were only applicable to nine local areas. To estimate the number of workers affected in the other 43 local jurisdictions we used a quasi-elasticity for the share of total population affected relative to the average minimum wage increase between 2012 and 2021 for the nine (larger) cities available in the ACS. For example, across the nine cities available in the ACS, the average share of the 2011 population affected was 17 percent, while the average change in minimum wage was 80.5 percent. We then applied this ratio for the remaining cities using their actual percent change in minimum wage and 2011 population based on either the 3-year (2010-2012) or 5-year (2009-2013) ACS summary data. To calculate the estimate annual increase, we applied the average increase per-worker in the observed sample of nine cities ($7,816) to the estimate number of workers calculated for each city. We refer to the estimate from the set of cities that lack identification in the 1-year ACS PUMS sample as “imputed” figures and are intended to be approximations. The figures presented in this report are rounded.

Race and ethnicity categories are constructed using the ACS’s classifications for race and ethnicity. For this analysis, white represents individuals that identified as white alone (non-Hispanic or Latino), Black represents Black or African-American alone (non-Hispanic or Latino), Asian represents Asian alone (non-Hispanic or Latino), and Latinx represents Hispanic or Latino of any race. Because of the possibility of inflating possible errors, we do not report breakouts by race/ethnicity and gender for the set of cities where imputations were used for estimating the total number of workers affected.

A Note on Disemployment Effects                                 

Scholarly debates on the empirical and theoretical impact of raising the minimum wage on job losses have been raging for decades. For the purposes of the analysis presented here, we do not separately account for the so-called disemployment effect of raising the minimum wage. Historically, older studies found a consensus that raising the minimum wage had a negative impact on employment levels (a negative elasticity between 10 and 20 percent). However, more recent empirical research , using a more geographically detailed methodology, has shown convincingly that minimum wage increases do not lead to significant disemployment effects.[xliv]  This finding has held up to numerous replications and methodological changes and newer studies have confirmed the overall finding of no significant job losses.[xlv]

While these large-scale national studies of minimum wage impacts, which pool together many modest (ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent) state-level increases in minimum wage over a long time period, have consistently found employment effects close to zero, it is still possible that very large and rapid increases in the minimum wage would cause negative effects. However, the experience of Seattle, which was the first major city to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, shows evidence that largely confirms the finding of no significant employment losses.

This report originally appeared at NELP on July 27, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Yannet Lathrop is a passionate advocate for economic and social policies that advance the common good. She joined NELP in 2014, after completing a public policy fellowship under the sponsorship of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


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Rent is out of reach for minimum-wage workers in every state. New study shows how far out of reach

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Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution, this week  in the war on workers | Today's Workplace

Opponents of raising the minimum wage to $15 like to say that sure, $15 might be a reasonable wage in New York City or Los Angeles, but it’s just too high in the heartland. Guess what, guys? There are more than 3,000 counties in the United States, but only 218 in which a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach report. There is not one city or state in which a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. And there’s only one state in which full-time work at $15 an hour is currently enough for a two-bedroom market rate rental home. It’s not enough in Alabama or Mississippi, Iowa or Nebraska. It’s for damn sure not Texas or Utah. Congratulations, Sen. Joe Manchin: It’s West Virginia, sliding in 17 cent an hour under $15. But West Virginia’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour doesn’t come close.

Nationally, on average, a full-time worker would need to be paid $24.90 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental without paying more than 30% of their income. By contrast, the average renter in the U.S. earns $18.78 per hour. Nearly 60% of all wage and salary workers earn less than the $24.90 needed to make the average two-bedroom rental affordable.

Today’s minimum wage? Ha. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Thirty states, the District of Columbia, and some counties and cities have higher minimum wages, but even so, “the average minimum wage worker must work nearly 97 hours per week (more than 2 full-time jobs) to afford a two bedroom rental home or 79 hours per week (almost 2 full-time jobs) to afford a one bedroom rental home at the fair market rent.”

In five states—Hawai’i, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland—the average renter’s wage falls more than $10 short of the wage needed to afford a two-bedroom rental.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought billions in federal rental assistance, though it’s being paid out too slowly, with the expiration of a federal eviction moratorium looming on July 31. But as the comparison between the cost of modest rental housing and the wages people are actually being paid shows—and as past years of this report show—even before the pandemic, housing was a crisis that demanded policy solutions. The National Low Income Housing Coalition is calling on Congress to expand rental assistance to every eligible household that needs it—current programs fall far short of the need—as well as to invest in affordable housing and bolster public housing. Another key policy would prevent landlords from refusing to rent to people with housing vouchers, since many people with vouchers struggle to find housing they can use the vouchers for.

Republicans will never, ever allow these policies—or a minimum wage increase—to pass if they have the power to block them. Democrats need to find a way to get Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board with doing something, because the situation is dire.

This blog originally appeared at DailyKos on July 19, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor.


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Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution, this week in the war on workers

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Interview with Laura Clawson, Daily Kos Contributing Editor | Smart  Bitches, Trashy Books

If a worker steals from their employer, they can be fired or even face criminal charges. If an employer steals their workers’ wages, they … usually get to keep the money with no penalties. Wage theft is outrageously common, and it’s rarely treated as a serious civil violation, let alone a criminal one, despite taking money from people who desperately need it to get by. Minimum wage violations, for instance, are one common form of wage theft, and wage theft doesn’t hit all workers equally. According to the National Employment Law Project, “Black workers experience wage theft at three times the rate of white workers. Foreign-born workers experience wage theft at twice the rate of their U.S.-born counterparts. And women experience wage theft at a rate of 30 percent, compared to 20 percent for male workers.”

In 2017, an Economic Policy Institute analysis found that minimum wage violations stole $8 billion a year from workers—in just the 10 most populous states. In 2019, forced arbitration agreements denying workers the chance to make their case in court let employers steal $40 million from Maine workers, NELP reports.

NELP has an answer: retaliation funds. Retaliation funds should be set up by a labor enforcement agency, and workers could draw on them if, after they filed a wage theft complaint with the labor enforcement agency, their pay was reduced or they were fired. At that point, they’d get a one-time payment, and “If the enforcement agency eventually finds that the employer unlawfully retaliated, the employer should replenish the fund with a payment equal to three times the amount the worker received.” That would protect workers from retaliation, which would reduce their fears about reporting wage theft to begin with, and it would act as a disincentive to employers tempted to steal from their workers. Is there a blue state that will consider trying this out?

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on May 22, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor.


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‘The president’s committed to raising the minimum wage,’ Labor Sec. Marty Walsh says. He should be

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The Senate voted against including a minimum wage increase in the American Rescue Plan in March, and as long as Republicans have the option of filibustering it, they will block any meaningful increase in what’s now a poverty-level federal minimum wage. But because $7.25 an hour is a poverty-level wage—and because raising it is proven popular with voters—Democrats need to find a way to make it happen, and happen in a form that isn’t an insult to the workers such a policy should be helping.

“When you think about raising the minimum wage, it’s really about raising the opportunity for families to earn a living,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Saturday. “Most families can’t live on $7 an hour—no family can live on $7 an hour. It’s pretty hard to live on $15 an hour.”

“The president’s committed to raising the minimum wage,” Walsh continued. “I’m committed to raising the minimum wage, there are members of Congress committed to raising the minimum wage.”

What a minimum wage increase looks like is the big question. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would raise it in steps, going from $7.25 to $9.50 later in 2021, then $11 in 2022, $12.50 in 2023, $14 in 2024, and $15 in 2025. After that, the minimum wage would be indexed to median wage growth, so that we wouldn’t again have a minimum wage that hadn’t changed in more than a decade thanks to Republican obstruction. Importantly, the Raise the Wage Act would also raise the tipped subminimum wage from $2.13 an hour, where it has been since 1991, bringing it equal with the full minimum wage in 2027; the much less frequently used youth wage would also match the minimum wage in 2027.

One alternative you’ll hear mentioned a lot is a regional minimum wage, with lower-cost states having a lower minimum wage than higher-cost ones. There are a lot of problems with this. First of all, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, the only state in the country in which a living wage for one adult with no children is currently below $13 an hour is South Dakota. $15 an hour in 2025 is likely to be the equivalent of $13.79 in today’s dollars. So when people tell you that $15 in 2025 is too much, too fast … they’re sure not talking about what’s fair or right.

Second, consider how many states have already raised their minimum wages—and that it’s not just deep blue and expensive states like California, New York, or Massachusetts. In 2018, voters in Arkansas and Missouri raised their states’ minimum wages to $11 in 2021 and $12 in 2023, respectively. In 2020, more than 60% of Florida voters passed an amendment raising their state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026. The Democratic senators most likely to stand in the way of a meaningful minimum wage increase are West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. Arizona voters in 2016 passed increases to $12 in 2020, with the minimum wage indexed to the cost of living after that. West Virginia’s minimum wage is $8.75 an hour.

But third, the history of proposals for a regional minimum wage is instructive.

“When the first federal minimum wage was being debated in the 1930s, Southern congressmen strongly opposed the federal standard, concerned that it would upset the white supremacist plantation system that dominated the South’s economy,” David Cooper and Lawrence Mishel write at the Economic Policy Institute. “In fact, Southern lawmakers insisted that the federal wage standard should be adjusted by region to account for differences in costs of living. What ultimately led to the minimum wage law’s passage as a single national wage floor was a “compromise” with Southern Democrats to exempt agriculture, restaurants, and a host of other service-sector industries that disproportionately employed Black workers. Even after it was amended in 1967 to cover more of these industries, the law still exempted most farmworkers—who today are majority Latinx—and allowed employers to pay a subminimum wage to tipped workers—who today are overwhelmingly women.”

Huh. What do you know. The early attempts for a regional minimum wage were about keeping wages low for specific people—as evidenced by the fact that the acceptable compromise was the one that wrote Black workers and Latino workers and women workers out of the policy. And once again we’re seeing efforts to keep wages low in ways that would, according to a 2019 analysis, disproportionately hurt Black workers and women of color. More than one in three of the workers who would lose out from a regional proposal similar to one suggested by Third Way would be women of color. Black workers would, on average, get half the raise they would get from the Raise the Wage Act.

Raising the minimum wage would lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. The best available economic research, drawing on actual real-life minimum wage increases that have already happened, tells us that it would not cost jobs. It’s a matter of basic fairness, allowing workers to get a small share of increased productivity. By raising wages disproportionately for women and people of color, it would promote equity. It’s popular. This should be a no-brainer as an issue even for the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and a sledgehammer for Democrats to use against Republicans, not an issue to muddle with talk of a regional increase or other insulting compromises.

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on April 6, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a contributing editor since December 2006. Clawson has been full-time staff since 2011, and is currently assistant managing editor at the Daily Kos.


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Amazon touts high pay for warehouse workers, but $15 isn’t all that, this week in the war on workers

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As its workers in Bessemer, Alabama, seek to unionize, Amazon keeps touting its $15 an hour pay—more than double the federal minimum wage, which applies in Alabama. But it turns out that’s not such a great thing to brag about in that area.

“The most recent figure for the median wage in greater Birmingham, a metropolitan area of roughly one million people that includes Bessemer, was nearly $3 above Amazon’s pay there, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” The New York Times reports. Jennifer Bates, an Amazon worker who earned more in a previous job, pointed to Amazon’s support for a $15 federal minimum wage, saying: “It looks to me like Amazon is admitting it’s only paying a minimum wage, and this is not a minimum-wage job.”

But “high” pay isn’t the only way Amazon tries to keep unions out. The company has a history of surveilling, threatening, and retaliating against worker activists.

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on March 20, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a contributing editor since December 2006. Clawson has been full-time staff since 2011, and is currently assistant managing editor at the Daily Kos.


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Working Life Episode 217: It’s All North Carolina – The Fight For 15 and the Campaign for a Progressive U.S. Senator

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It’s all about North Carolina today—the fight for better wages and the campaign to get a progressive person in the U.S. Senate, all of which is connected to my two guests today who represent the theme of the just-marked International Womens Day.

The sad outcome of the push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour tells us two things. First, there is a big house cleaning needed to make way for politicians who actually care about workers. Second, no matter what happens in elections, we need to keep up the street heat to mobilize millions of people to stop the immorality of people working full-time but getting paid poverty wages while billionaires get even richer.

First up, then, is Precious Cole. Precious lives in Durham, North Carolina and works at Wendy’s. She has been working minimum wage jobs for half her life and, like millions of other workers, has, year after year, not been able to meet her monthly bills earning what is a poverty wage. Which is one reason Precious has become a key activist and leader in North Carolina Raise Up, the state branch of the national Fight for 15 and a Union network. She chats with me about her life and her activism.

Then, you may remember state Senator Erica Smith—she was a progressive who jumped into the 2020 North Carolina race for the U.S. Senate to challenge incumbent Republican Thom Tillis. But, the D.C. insiders shoved her aside, handpicking the most uninspired, dumb-as-a-brick candidate Cal Cunningham who, with piles of corporate and party-directed money, won the primary—and, then, proceeded to crash and burn, handing Tillis his re-election.

The 2022 election is a barometer for whether lessons have been learned. As the results of the Florida minimum wage ballot initiative showed—it passed overwhelmingly even as Joe Biden was losing the state—people are saying pretty clearly: give me a policy that puts money in my pocket and isn’t about supporting the rich over regular people, and I’ll vote for it whether you call it “progressive” or “a loaf of bread.” Erica is back for another Senate race, competing for the party primary nod for the seat that is opening up in 2022 with the retirement of Richard Burr. I talk with her about her campaign and the mood in North Carolina.

This blog originally appeared at Working Life on March 10, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Jonathan Tasini is a political / organizing / economic strategist. President of the Economic Future Group, a consultancy that has worked in a couple of dozen countries on five continents over the past 20 years.


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Essential Workers Deserve $15 An Hour

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I’m one of America’s millions of essential workers. We’re working in your children’s schools, at your grocery stores, and at drive-through windows. We’re cleaning your homes.

And we’re struggling so hard to make ends meet.

Congress is debating whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Experts say this would raise wages for 32 million workers like me.

Supporters had hoped to pass the increase as part of the COVID-19 relief package, but an obscure parliamentary rule says they can’t. Now supporters in Congress will have to decide how hard they’ll fight for us.

I want to share a bit about what it’s like to work for less than a living wage — especially during this pandemic.

In my last job, I sold vacuums door to door. My coworkers and I had to go into strangers’ houses to demonstrate the equipment. But our company didn’t provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and it didn’t require employees or clients to socially distance or wear masks.

Eventually, I caught COVID-19. Instead of supporting me, my manager repeatedly questioned me for quarantining. I didn’t want to risk my life for a low-wage job with no benefits, so I left.

Now I work two low-wage jobs, but neither has benefits. The safety precautions are a little better, but as a home care worker, I’m caring for patients who may or may not wear masks.

It’s especially stressful because I live with my mom, who’s in several high-risk categories. My two jobs aren’t enough to afford an apartment with utilities, furniture, and other expenses, so we’re living in a hotel.

The pandemic made this harder, but the truth is that it’s always been hard — I’m 23 and I’ve already had too many jobs to count. I keep changing jobs to escape poverty wages, harassment, discrimination, exploitation, danger, and a lack of health care. Wherever I go, it doesn’t seem to get better.

This isn’t right. And that’s why I’ve learned to fight back.

When I was working at McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour a few years ago, a co-worker told me she was going to a rally for the Fight for $15 campaign. I asked to go along. It was an amazing experience. We were all there for each other, working for structural change so that we don’t have to live this way. So no one does.

I started dedicating my life to achieving a living wage, union rights, and health care for all. And right now, we’re so close to $15.

Some lawmakers don’t think essential workers like me need a livable wage. I want to tell them they’re wrong. We’re the ones taking care of your ailing parents, teaching your kids, and putting food on your table.

My mom and I deserve a place to call our own. My fellow low-wage workers deserve to be able to buy good food, get quality healthcare, and securely house their families in exchange for their hard and often dangerous work.

Even before the pandemic, 140 million Americans were poor or low-income. Now the economy is down 10 million jobs since the pandemic hit, and at least 8 million more of us are living in poverty.

I don’t want to have to struggle so hard to survive. I don’t want that for anyone. We’ll need more than a living wage to make ends meet for all of us — we’ll need stronger unions and better health care, too — but fair pay for hard work would be a great place to start.

The minimum wage must be raised to $15 an hour. Join the Fight for $15 where you live, and call on your representatives to make it happen. Together we can make this a reality.

This blog originally appeared at Our Future on March 6, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Eshawney Gaston is an essential worker and a leader with NC Raise Up, the North Carolina branch of Fight for $15 and a Union. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.


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Prepared Remarks: Sanders Speaks on the Urgency of Raising the Minimum Wage and Passing the American Rescue Plan

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on the need to pass the American Rescue Plan Act and offered an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. His remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. President, I rise today to offer an amendment to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a 5-year period and I will be speaking on that amendment in a moment.

But before I do that, let me begin my remarks by talking about why this reconciliation bill that we are debating today is so important and why we need to pass it as soon as possible.

Let’s be clear.  Today, in America, we are living through one of the worst economic crises in the modern history of America and the worst public health crisis in more than a hundred years. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging across the country.  Meanwhile, over 90 million Americans today are either uninsured or under-insured and can’t afford to go to a doctor when they get sick.  The isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in mental illness.

During the pandemic, 63% of American workers have been living paycheck to paycheck, including millions of essential workers who put their lives on the line each and every day for totally inadequate wages. 

More than 23 million Americans are unemployed, under employed or have given up looking for work, while hunger in this country continues to soar.

Because of lack of income, millions of Americans owe thousands of dollars in back rent and many of them face the threat of eviction.  This is on top of the 500,000 who are already homeless.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest people in this country are becoming much richer, and income and wealth inequality is skyrocketing.  Incredibly, during the pandemic, over 650 billionaires in America have increased their wealth by more than $1 trillion.

As a result of the pandemic education in this country from childcare to graduate school, is in chaos.  The majority of young people in this country have seen their education disrupted and it is likely that hundreds of colleges will soon cease to exist.

In this moment of unprecedented crises, the Senate must respond through unprecedented action.   

Mr. President, for too long Congress has responded to the needs of the wealthy and the powerful.  Now it is time to respond to the needs of working families – black and white, Latino, Native American and Asian American.

That is what this reconciliation bill is all about.

This Budget Reconciliation bill that we are debating today will enable us to aggressively crush the pandemic which has already taken over 500,000 lives – and enable the American people to return to their jobs and schools.

It will establish a national emergency program to produce the quantity of vaccines that we need and get them into the arms of our people as quickly as possible.

It will allow us to keep the promises we made to the American people and increase the $600 in direct payments for working-class adults and their children to $2,000.

What that means is that a typical family of four would get a direct payment of $5,600.

The Budget Reconciliation bill that we are considering today will provide $400 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits to over 10 million Americans until the end of August.

Further, Mr. President, all of us know that we have a childcare crisis in America.  This Budget Reconciliation bill will provide the resources necessary to provide childcare to 875,000 kids in America.  

It will expand the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000 and to $3,600 for kids under the age of 6.

And by taking these steps we will be cutting the child poverty in half.  Let me repeat that.  If we pass this bill, we will cut child poverty in the United States of America by 50 percent.

Further, this bill will provide $350 billion to prevent mass layoffs of public sector workers in state and local governments. 

At a time when over 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, this bill will enable the Senate to substantially increase access to health care for millions of Americans, including a significant expansion of Medicaid.  

It will allow more Americans to receive the primary care that they need through a $7.6 billion increase in funding for community health centers.  It will address the serious shortage of doctors and nurses in rural areas and inner cities by expanding the National Health Service Corps.  And it will make sure our veterans receive the healthcare they have earned and deserve by increasing funding at the VA by $17 billion.

In addition, Mr. President, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we can no longer tolerate hunger in America and the long bread lines that have stretched mile after mile during the pandemic.

This bill will provide nutrition assistance to tens of millions of hungry families with children, the disabled and the elderly.

Further, Mr. President, this bill will provide rent relief, utility assistance and mortgage assistance to millions of tenants and homeowners who are in danger of eviction and foreclosure.  

It will begin to address the crisis of homelessness in America.

Further, Mr. President, all of us must acknowledge that there is a pension crisis in America today.  As a result of the greed on Wall Street, workers and retirees in multi-employer pension plans are in danger of seeing their retirement benefits cut by as much as 65 percent.  That is unacceptable. 

When a worker is promised a pension after a lifetime of work that promise must be kept.  This bill will provide the resources necessary to prevent the pensions of millions of Americans from being cut.

Mr. President, not only is this $1.9 trillion emergency COVID-relief package the right thing to do from a moral perspective and a public policy perspective, it is exactly what over 70 percent of the American people want us to do.

But, Mr. President, because of an unfortunate and misguided decision by the parliamentarian, this reconciliation bill does not include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In my view, an unelected staffer in the Senate should not be in charge of determining whether 32 million workers in America receive a raise.

It is hard for me to understand how drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was considered to be consistent with the Byrd Rule, while increasing the minimum wage is not.

Therefore, Mr. President, I am offering an amendment today with Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Ron Wyden and many others in this Chamber to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

This amendment is similar to legislation which has been co-sponsored by 38 members of the Senate and legislation which has already passed the House. 

This amendment is supported by some 300 national organizations including the AFL-CIO and virtually all of the major unions in our country. 

And because raising the minimum wage to a living wage will significantly benefit women and people of color it is supported by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Organization for Women, UNIDOS, the American Association of University Women, Indivisible, Justice for Migrant Women, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Women’s Law Center.

And while raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will mean a wage increase for over 30 million Americans, given the fact that nearly 50% of Black and Latino workers earn less than $15 an hour, it will be a huge help to those communities.

Let’s be clear.  This is the richest country in the history of the world.  We can no longer tolerate millions of our workers being unable to feed their families because they are working for starvation wages.  

Mr. President, nobody in America can survive on $7.25 an hour, $9 an hour or $12 an hour.  We need an economy in which all of our workers earn at least a living wage.

It is a national disgrace that Congress has not passed an increase in the minimum wage since 2007 – 14 years ago.

It is totally unacceptable that the minimum wage has lost over 30 percent of its purchasing power since 1968.

Yes. Now is the time to raise the minimum wage to a living wage – at least $15 an hour.  A job in the United States of America should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it.

And when we increase that minimum wage to $15 an hour we will be giving over 32 million Americans a much needed raise. 

In fact, if this amendment becomes law, the average low-wage worker in America would receive $3,300 in additional income – each and every year.

And let’s be clear.  More than 60 percent of the American people support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  This is not a radical idea.  This is what the American people want.

Since 1998, every time a state has had an initiative on the ballot to raise the minimum wage it has won – no matter if that state was red, blue or purple.

In November 61% of the people in Florida – a state Joe Biden lost by 3 points – voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

8 states and over 40 cities have adopted laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Just a few days ago, the House did the right thing and passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Now, this issue rests in the Senate. 

We must understand that the issue of starvation wages is a national emergency.  We must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In the last few days, I have heard some concerns from my colleagues about one part of our amendment and that is the provision to raise the tipped wage which now stands unbelievably at $2.13 an hour.  Yes, the federal minimum wage for waiters and waitresses, barbers, hair stylists, parking attendants and others is at $2.13 and has not been raised since 1991 – 30 years ago.

The proposal in this legislation would raise that tipped wage from $2.13 an hour to $14.95 over a seven year period – something which is desperately needed.

The National Restaurant Association, a very powerful lobbying organization has suggested to Members of Congress that this legislation is opposed by restaurant workers and would be harmful to their interests.  This is not true.  One Fair Wage, an organization representing service employees has just delivered to the White House a petition with 140,000 signatures from service workers who are demanding that they receive the same minimum wage as every other worker.

Polling among service employees and non-service employees also supports the reality that Americans want our waiters, waitresses and other service employees to get a fair minimum wage.

Now I have heard from some that people who are working in the service industry are doing really well and they don’t need an increase in the minimum wage.  The tips that they are receiving are covering all of their needs.  Really?

Today, 70% of tipped workers are women who suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the US workforce, use food stamps at double the rate, and suffer from the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry because they must tolerate inappropriate customer behavior to feed their families in tips.

Further, let us be very clear, the idea of moving tipped wages to the same level as the overall minimum wage is not a radical idea.

It already exists in seven states including California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Alaska, and Minnesota.

And I should point out that all of these states experienced a growth in the number of small businesses and restaurants after they abolished the tipped minimum wage.  And guess what?  Waiters and waitresses in these states received more in tips, not less.

Let’s talk about how the pandemic has affected tipped workers. In many states where the tipped minimum wage still exists, tipped workers did not even qualify for unemployment because their wages were too low.

And let’s be clear.  In an industry where more than 6 million people have lost their jobs, over 60% of sub-minimum wage earners could not get unemployment benefits because the state and federal government denied them benefits for not making enough earned income. At the same time, as restaurants re-open the CDC has declared restaurants as the most dangerous place to work, and now servers are responsible for enforcing new rules and protocols around social distancing and wearing masks. 

The restaurant industry has some of the highest rates of sexual harassment. In a workplace where 70% of the workers are women, and where they rely on their customers to determine their wages, women are often expected to withstand sexual harassment in order to get paid. 

In states where the sub minimum wage has been eliminated sexual harassment has been cut in half. And that is exactly what we should be doing on the federal level.

Mr. President, in my view, it all comes down to this. Which side are you on? Are you on the side of the working people in America who desperately need a raise? Or are you on the side of the wealthy and the powerful who want to continue exploiting their workers and paying starvation wages? It ain’t more complicated than that.

I urge my colleagues to stand with the working class of America. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

This blog originally appeared at Working Life on March 5, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Jonathan Tasini is a political / organizing / economic strategist. President of the Economic Future Group, a consultancy that has worked in a couple of dozen countries on five continents over the past 20 years.


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