A comeback for labor, fighting for a living wage for all

September 02, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights


From WaPo:

As New York Times labor writer Steve Greenhouse has noted, until 1975, “wages nearly always accounted for more than 50 percent of our nation’s GDP.” But in 2012 they fell to a record low of 43.5 percent. Those who make the economic engine run are receiving less of what they produce. And it’s not because employees aren’t working harder, or smarter. From 1973 to 2011, according to the Economic Policy Institute, employee productivity grew by 80.4 percent while median hourly compensation after inflation grew by just 10.7 percent.

Thursday’s one-day strike of fast-food workers in dozens of cities was one of the new forms of labor creativity aimed at doing something about this. The folks who serve your burgers are demanding that instead of an average fast-food wage of $8.94 an hour, they ought to be paid $15. Assuming two weeks of unpaid vacation, this works out to $30,000 a year, hardly a Ronald McDonald’s ransom.

The protests have the benefit of putting low-wage workers in the media spotlight, a place they’re almost never found in a world more interested in the antics of Miley Cyrus and Donald Trump. “They want a raise with those fries,” the New York Daily News cheekily led its story on the strike.

Key unions are helping to organize these efforts, but they don’t necessarily expect formal union recognition. They want to raise wages, which is what could happen if the public responds. Companies have been frantically painting themselves green to attract environmentally conscious customers. Employers might discover, to paraphrase the old McDonald’s slogan, that their workers deserve a break today if consumers (who are also workers themselves) started pressuring them to be more employee-friendly.

The fast-food campaign feeds into efforts to hike the current $7.25-an-hour minimum wage nationwide and to enact higher “living wages” in localities around the country. In Long Beach, Calif., as my Post colleague Harold Meyerson reported recently in the American Prospect, voters last November overwhelmingly enacted a measure to boost the hourly pay of some 2,000 of the city’s hotel employees to $13.

From The Grio:

Poverty-wage workers, including union workers, are more likely to be women, young and of color in the new service economy. According to EPI, one-quarter of Americans work in low-paying jobs, which is at or below the federal poverty level for a family of four, which was $23,005 per year in 2011. White women are less than half the workforce, but 55.1 percent of poverty-wage workers. Workers between ages 18 and 25 were 15.5% of the workforce in 2011, but were 35.5 percent of poverty-wage workers.

Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented among low wage workers. African-Americans were 11 percent of the workforce in 2011, yet made up 14.1 percent of all poverty-wage workers. Similarly, Hispanics constituted 15.3 percent of the workforce in 2011, but 23.6 percent of poverty-wage workers. Whites are underrepresented among the poverty-wage workforce, accounting for 66.9 percent of all workers, but only 55.9 percent of all poverty-wage workers.

Meanwhile, in 2011, only 31.5 percent of poverty-wage workers lived in households with greater than $50,000 in family income, while 31% lived in households with less than $25,000 in family income. These figures counter the notion that many fast-food workers live in high income households, such as a teenager with well-to-do parents, or an adult with a higher-earning spouse.

In addition, there are educational disparities among low wage workers. For example, workers with a high school diploma or less were 36.4 percent of the total workforce in 2011 but 54.3 percent percent of low-wage workers. Yet, workers with some college education are overrepresented as well, accounting for 19.7 percent of the national workforce but 26.4 percent of poverty-wage workers.

The workers in the $200 billion a year fast food industry are dependent on food stamps at twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, and rely on other government programs such as Medicaid just to make ends meet. This comes as Don Thompson, the CEO of McDonald’s, saw his compensation more than triple to $13.75 million.

Workers of the world, unite! #mayday2013 #internationalworkersday

May 01, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From The Express Tribune:

International Labour Day is observed throughout the world on May 1 to commemorate the martyrs of the US city of Chicago who laid down their lives in May 1886, while demanding an eight-hour working day. The day has since been observed regularly by industrial workers and labourers across the world, marked by rallies and seminars in which they demand their rights enshrined in labour and industrial laws.

While workers have been denied their rights in many parts of the world, Pakistan is no different. The previous government took some good decisions regarding the working class. It increased minimum wage, lifted the ban on trade unions, repealed anti-labour laws like the Removal from Service (Special Power) Ordinance 2000 and Section 2A of the Services Tribunal Act of 1973, and came up with a new labour policy.

Despite some good laws, most Pakistani workers are still exploited due to the non-implementation of laws.
Human history is the story of exploitation under specious excuses of race, gender, caste or creed. However, the driving force underlying all such discriminations has been the ambition of the idle few to prevail upon the industrious majority. Work is the ultimate virtue, the absence of which afflicts communities and nations with ignorance, deprivation and disease. In this era of globalisation where privatisation is rife, labour laws are essential to protect the rights of the working class.

Far from being a purely denominational event, Labour Day is a celebration of justice, peace and equality. Workers’ rights cannot be guaranteed in a world ruled by the might of classes, cliques and states. The dignity of labour is intrinsically woven in the matrix of human collective.

Tax the Rich: An animated fairy tale

December 02, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism

Walmart Paved the Way for Poverty Wages

November 27, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

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From The Nation:

On Black Friday, hundreds of Walmart workers protested the superstore’s unfair labor practices and “Always Low Wages” policy. While Walmart’s bottom-line business model has made the Walton family billions, their employees in California were 40 percent more likely to need public assistance. Walmart is not only slashing prices on flat-screen TVs—they’re suppressing wages and costing tax payers millions of dollars. Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry checks the numbers to see why the Walton’s “Live Better” math—which claims their low-price model benefits all families—doesn’t quite add up.

Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit

October 24, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Workers' Rights

From DemocracyNow:

We turn now to a major new exposé on the cover of The Nation magazine called “Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit.” Investigative reporter Greg Palast reveals how Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made some $15 million on the auto bailout and that three of Romney’s top donors made more than $4 billion for their hedge funds from the bailout. Palast’s report is part of a film-in-progress called “Romney’s Bailout Bonanza.” Palast is the author of several books, including recently released New York Times bestseller, “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.”

With 2.5 Weeks to Go, Get Ready For the GOP/Koch Brothers Ad Onslaught

October 19, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty, White Privilege

From HuffPo:

The disparity, with Republicans spending $41.7 million and Democrats spending $23.5 million, illustrates a strategic gamble on behalf of the GOP presidential nominee to bury President Barack Obama and burn past him during the closing weeks of the campaign.

“Patience is a virtue,” one Republican source said of the decision to hold resources until the last weeks of the campaign.

The Republican source, who like all others would only discuss ad buying strategy and details on condition of anonymity, put the ad disparity at somewhat smaller than $18 million. The source offered the following data for the money being spent on both national cable and swing state television ads between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14.

1. Romney campaign: $17.7 million
2. Obama campaign: $16.5 million
3. The Karl Rove-started American Crossroads: $7 million
4. The Romney supporting super-PAC Restore Our Future: $6 million
5. The Obama supporting super-PAC Priorities USA: $4.2 million
6. The National Rifle Association: $1.3 million
7. The conservative American Future Fund: $400k

See also:

  • More Romney Bundlers Revealed
    Sixty-three registered lobbyists have raised $14.3 million for the Romney campaign, and despite the campaign’s refusal to publicly disclose its list of bundlers — elite fundraisers who tap their personal and professional networks to raise funds. In addition, we’ve identified 37 of Romney’s other, non-lobbyist bundlers, whose names the campaign has refused to disclose.
  • Backed by Adelson, Republican Pro-Israel Group Targets Obama
    With support from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and a board laden with well-connected luminaries of GOP fundraising, the Republican Jewish Coalition is making a strong push to turn just enough Jews against Obama to deny him re-election.

In Shell Case, Will Supreme Court’s View of Corporate Personhood Mean Liability for Crimes Abroad?

October 02, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Eco-Justice, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality, Poverty

From Democracy Now:

The Supreme Court opens its 2012-2013 term [yesterday] with a landmark case to decide whether survivors of human rights violations in foreign countries can bring lawsuits against corporations in U.S. courts. The case centers on a lawsuit that accuses the oil giant Shell’s parent company, Royal Dutch Petroleum, of complicity in the murder and torture of Nigerian activists. Some legal analysts are comparing this case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, to the landmark campaign finance ruling in Citizens United. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled corporations have broad rights under the First Amendment and can directly fund political campaigns. The court is now being asked to decide if corporations have the same responsibilities as individuals for violations of international law. The court’s ruling will also impact numerous other human rights cases being heard by lower courts. We’re joined in New York by Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

96 Percent Of People Have Received Some Government Assistance

September 26, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Intersectionality, Poverty

From ThinkProgress:

It turns out that 96 percent of Americans have used government assistance at one point or another in their lives, ranging from Social Security to grant programs. In a New York Times op-ed Monday, Professors Suzanne Mettler and John Sides point out that a vast majority of Americans have some tie to the government and that, in 2008, 96 percent of people used government help. The data comes from a 2008 Cornell study of 21 social programs:

The survey asked about people’s policy usage throughout their lives, not just at a moment in time, and it included questions about social policies embedded in the tax code, which are usually overlooked.

What the data reveal is striking: nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them. Young adults, who are not yet eligible for many policies, account for most of the remaining 4 percent.

On average, people reported that they had used five social policies at some point in their lives. An individual typically had received two direct social benefits in the form of checks, goods or services paid for by government, like Social Security or unemployment insurance.

As Sides and Mettler are quick to point out, the survey does not include “government activity that benefits everyone — national defense, the interstate highway system, food safety regulations — but only tangible benefits.”