AFL-CIO President Trumka On The 5th Anniversary of Last Minimum Wage Increase

Richard_Trumka

Today is a reminder of what is possible with just an ounce of political will.  If our leaders have the courage, they can lift millions of hardworking Americans out of poverty by raising the minimum wage. It’s a tragedy that workers have been trapped in a poverty-level minimum wage for five years. It must not go a day longer.

We are working harder than ever, while our wages are flat or falling. Over the past five years, the cost of living has continued to increase across the country, while the federal minimum wage has stayed flat. Raising the minimum wage is a critical and simple way to address a crucial underlying weakness in our economy. It will create jobs, grow our economy and increase the purchasing power of millions of workers.

The movement to raise wages is happening all around us. States are doing it. Cities, counties and little towns are doing it. Smart business owners are doing it. It’s time for Congress to get it done.

Working People Score Major Victories Throughout The Country

union_yes_sign_616

Working people scored major victories over the last several months, organizing new workplaces and winning fights to raise wages.

The following are a sample of some these victories:

Organizing Victories

Texas Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives: Union growth continues in Texas as members from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully organized their second consecutive workplace in Texas this month adding nearly 1,000 new members.

Point Park University Faculty Organize Hundreds to Gain Benefits: Over 300 part-time faculty members at Point Park University in Pittsburgh now have access to essential benefits and protections thanks to a successful vote to join the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).

Missouri EMS Workers Win Organizing Fight: An overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals in Independence, Missouri voted to join EMS Workers United-AFSCME, strengthening the local union and providing essential protections for Missouri workers.

Raising Wages Victories

Massachusetts Workers Help Push Minimum Wage Hike: Working people in Massachusetts scored a big win as Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.

Newark, NJ Paid Sick-Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect: A new paid sick-leave law in Newark, NJ will allow full and part-time employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick-leave per year. Similar paid sick-leave laws have passed in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Momentum Builds for Minimum Wage Hike in Nebraska: Workers in Nebraska put a measure on the 2014 ballot to raise the minimum wage to $9 and hour by 2016.

California Workers Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase: An increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour has taken effect, with the wage set to increase again in 2016 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Los Angeles to increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.

Community Victories

Philadelphia Building-Trades Go to Work with New Housing Deal: A deal between Philadelphia building-trades unions and the Philadelphia Housing Authority will put people to work in union jobs while creating new affordable housing for Pennsylvanians.

Letter Carriers Complete Successful Food Drive: Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers completed their annual food drive, collecting more than 72 million pounds of food for families in need.

Union Volunteers Help Aspiring Americans Earn Citizenship: On June 28th at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC, volunteers helped nearly 100 people through the U.S. citizenship process, enabling them to file paperwork with the help of legal and immigration experts.

SEIU’s Henry: Seattle Workers Show the Way by Winning $15/Hour Wage Floor

Seattle Space Needle (FLIKR Wonderlane) CROPPED
Image by Wonderland Flickr

Image by Wonderland Flickr

WASHINGTON, DC - After the Seattle City Council voted to lift the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Like working Americans across the country, the 2.1 million members of SEIU are tremendously inspired by today’s breakthrough vote by the Seattle City Council to lift the wage floor there to $15 per hour. Congratulations to everyone in the coalition who fought to make this victory possible.

“We are all better off when working-class families have enough money in their pockets to pay for their basic needs and put money back into their neighborhoods to strengthen their community.

“This landmark victory happened because fast food workers stood with janitors, nurses, hospital workers, child care workers and home care aides to fight for wages that boost the economy. They stuck together, went on strike, and made their voices heard. They spoke out to say that it’s wrong that ordinary people work hard but live paycheck to paycheck so that irresponsible corporations can set new records for profits.

“This victory in the Seattle shows the way for workers in other cities who are fighting to lift their local minimum wage rates. The courage of fast food workers is inspiring for other people working in service jobs who are fighting to boost pay standards across an industry.

“It is a huge step forward as workers across the country build a movement to make sure that fast-growing service jobs pay people enough to become the foundation of the next American middle class. Together we will fight to build an economy that works for everyone, with broadly-shared prosperity for all of us.”

SEIU’s President Henry And 100 Workers Arrested at McDonald’s Shareholders’ Meeting

SEIU Protest TWITTER
SEIU Protest TWITTER

Image from @SEIU on Twitter

WASHINGTON, DC – Following her arrest at the McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting outside of Chicago, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Earlier today, I was arrested outside of McDonald’s world headquarters alongside more than 100 McDonald’s workers from across the country because we engaged in a peaceful, nonviolent act of civil disobedience.

“I was arrested because I want McDonald’s workers to know that 2.1 million members of SEIU — home care workers, child care workers, adjunct professors, security officers, hospital workers and many others — proudly stand with them.

“We came to McDonald’s world headquarters because this is where the real decisions are made. It’s time for the McDonald’s corporation to stop hiding behind its franchisees and to stop pretending that it can’t boost pay for the people who make and serve their food. It’s time for this company to stop systematically stealing its employees’ wages. McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private sector employer. It is extraordinarily profitable. It has an obligation to pay the people who run its stores enough to afford their basic needs.

“Members from across our union tell me over and over that they fully support fast food workers’ call for a $15 wage floor and their right to form a union without retaliation. When these workers win, they will boost their families’ purchasing power and that will strengthen the economy for all of us. They will show that workers can stick together and fight to make sure they are paid a fair share of the profits they create.”

Granite State Rumblings: 1 in 5 Children Are In Poverty, Now Is The Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Child in poverty (Image Tim Grable FLIKR)

Child in poverty (Image Tim Grable FLIKR)Right now, more than 46 million people are living in poverty in America, including more than 1 in 5 children; another 60 million people are just a single hardship away from falling into poverty. This is the sad news from a new collaboration of poverty experts called TalkPoverty.org.

Here are the numbers:

  • U.S. poverty (less than $18,284 for a family of three; less than $23,492 for a family of four): 46.5 million people, 15 percent of U.S.
  • Poorest age group: children, more than 34 percent of all people in poverty are children.
  • Children in poverty: 16.1 million, 21.8 percent of all children under 18.
  • Poverty rate among children in single parent families: 42 percent.
  • Number of married parents in poverty (raising minor children): 5.8 million.
  • Number of never married parents living in poverty: 4.6 million.
  • Educational attainment of adults in poverty: approximately 70 percent have a high school degree or above.
  • Costs of child poverty: $550 billion per year, or 3.8 percent of GDP.
  • Households without sufficient net worth to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income, 2011: 25.4 percent.
  • Jobs in the US paying less than $35,100 a year: 50 percent.
  • Jobs in the US paying below the poverty line for a family of four (less than $23,000 annually): 25 percent.
  • Poverty-level wages, 2011: 28 percent of workers.
  • Economic gains since 2009: 95 percent to top 1%; 60% to top .1% (people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million.)
  • Federal minimum wage: $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers—not raise since 1991)
  • Federal minimum wage if indexed to inflation for past 40 years: $10.86.
  • Federal minimum wage if it kept pace with productivity gains since 1968: $18.67
  • Hourly wage needed to lift a family of four above poverty line, 2011: $11.06

Source: http://talkpoverty.org/basics/

In April the United States Senate had an opportunity to do something positive for the millions of children living in poverty and their hard working low-income parents, by supporting Senator Tom Harkins’ (D-Iowa) bill to Raise the Minimum Wage. But they failed when they could not reach the  60 votes needed to even debate the measure. Both Senator Ayotte of NH and Senator Collins of Maine were among the 42 Senators casting votes to quash the debate.

And over in the House of Representatives, leadership has shown little interest in giving a vote to the bill sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)

Economists and other researchers investigating the minimum wage agree that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty. That’s the conclusion of a major paper by UMass Amherst economist Arin Dube  titled “Minimum Wages and the Distribution of Family Incomes.”

A February 2013 poll conducted by PEW Research found the following:  Public Support for Raising the Federal Minimum Wage

  • 71 percent of Americans support a federal minimum wage increase to $9.00 per hour including
    • 87 percent of Democrats
    • 68 percent of Independents
    • 50 percent of Republicans

A March 2014 report by the Center for American Progress found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and tying it to inflation, could reduce federal spending on food stamp benefits by $46 billion over 10 years. Also, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that by putting more income in low-wage workers’ pockets, the higher minimum wage would cut back their reliance on public assistance, to the tune of $4.6 billion annually. That amounts to roughly 6 percent of current food stamp spending, or about a tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget.

So, if economists and researchers conclude that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty and the dependence on government assistance programs, and 71 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage, why has it met such resistance from some of our elected leaders?

During a February 2014 town hall meeting in Cheshire County, Senator Ayotte was asked if she would support an increase to the minimum wage.

Senator Ayotte responded that her concern with the federal government raising the minimum wage is that it would cut young people out of the workforce who seek entry-level positions. Instead of increasing the minimum wage, she would like to see Congress work together on policies that would put the country in a position to have better jobs.

Would raising the minimum wage cut young people out of the workforce who seek entry-level positions?

No. A recent rigorous study by economists at the University of California examining the impact of minimum wage increases on teen unemployment found that even minimum wage increases implemented during times of high unemployment – such as the recessions of 1990-1991, 2001 and 2007-2009 – did not result in job losses for teens or slow employment growth.

Critics like to suggest that the last increase in the federal minimum wage in 2009 caused a spike in teen unemployment.  But as a NELP report demonstrated in 2011, teen unemployment rises faster than adult joblessness during every recession – whether or not the minimum wage goes up. This is because teens are the last hired, and so are always the first fired when the economy shrinks and adults compete with them for scarce jobs.

Senator Collins was hoping to find support from fellow Republicans to support a minimum wage increase under the proposed $10.10 per hour, but was unable to do so.

“I’m confident that the votes are not there to pass a minimum wage increase up to $10.10 therefore it seems to me to make sense for senators on both sides of the aisle to get together and see if we can come up with a package that would help low-income families with causing the kind of job loss that the Congressional Budget Office has warned against,” she said.

What impact would raising the minimum wage have on our struggling economy and businesses?

Raising the minimum wage right now is more important than ever. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to state and federal budget deficits. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy, and increasing demand is key for jumpstarting production and re-hiring. A raise in the minimum wage puts money into the pockets of low-income consumers, who immediately spend it at local businesses.  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, would generate $22 billion in new economic activity in communities across the country. Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a sustainable economic recovery – without increasing costs for taxpayers.

And more families than ever are relying on low-wage and minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. This is because job losses during the Great Recession hit higher-wage sectors like construction, manufacturing and finance hard, while new job growth has been concentrated disproportionately in low-wage industries. Fully 58 percent of all jobs created in the post-recession were low-wage occupations, according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project. This is not a short term trend – six of the top ten growth occupations projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for next decade are low-wage jobs, including home health aides, customer service representatives, food preparation and service workers, personal and home care aides, retail salespersons, and office clerks. Raising the minimum wage would boost pay scales in these types of jobs where millions of Americans today spend their careers.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the past two decades of research and concludes that raising the minimum wage had no adverse impact on employment.

What can you do and what is the message?
Make phone calls, send e-mails, apply pressure.

Create better jobs Senator Ayotte. Build a package to support low-income families, Senator Collins. But at the same time, dignify work for those who want to work, by making it pay. No person working 40 hours a week or more, should be earning poverty wages.

 GROWING UP GRANITE

Those who know me well will tell you that I am passionate when it comes to the subject of poverty, especially child poverty. I am privileged to work for an organization that allows me to invest my time and energy in advocating for children who live in poverty, working on solutions to poverty and the programs that serve our most vulnerable population, and educating our elected officials and the public about the hazards of growing up in poverty.

Sometimes I go to bed wondering why this work has chosen me as there are many days that I feel burned out and frustrated and powerless. But then I see the smiling face of a child in a Head Start program when he proudly shows me how he has learned to write his name, or I listen to a mom who is struggling to find a job that will pay her enough to keep food on the table and a roof over the head of her children, and the fire ignites once again.

There are a lot of great people who work on this issue. They proudly wear their orange badges in the Legislative Office Building and State House of New Hampshire. They sit in committee hearings, testify on bills, call and meet with legislators and the Governor’s office, meet and strategize with others who are working on the issues, and rally the troops.

Others do their work outside of the legislative process, working in the departments, agencies, and programs that serve children and families. Their dedication to those families and their willingness to share their knowledge with advocates and others is essential to the process.

As the New Hampshire legislative session comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank them for the work they do. I also want to thank all of you who have answered our requests to write letters, call your representatives, talk to your friends, co-workers, and neighbors and have gotten involved. We could not do our work without your assistance.

We also could not have done our jobs without the voices of those who have been willing to tell their personal stories. They are the true heroes.

They often open themselves up to stereotyping and mockery from some of the people who have been elected to serve them. Their voices are important and necessary, as they speak with the knowledge and urgency that an advocate who has not walked a mile in their shoes can even approximate.

The Legislature has formed several study committees that will be looking at some of the programs and issues that affect vulnerable populations and we will be sharing the information with you as they progress this summer.

One of the issues that will be studied this summer is the use of Electronic Benefit (EBT) cards. Three bills from this session are being wrapped into this study, SB 203, HB 1213, and HB 1299.  It is our hope that the voices of those who rely upon these programs will have an opportunity to be heard in these committee meetings as well.

In Voting Against The Minimum Wage Increase, The Only Person NH Sen Andy Sanborn Is Voting For Is Andy Sanborn

Screen Shot GSP Video  Andy Sanborn

As an elected representative of the people, State Senator Andy Sanborn, should be working for the people, however his vote appear to tell a different story.

Last week the NH Senate voted against raising the minimum wage to $9.00 over the next two years.  Senator Sanborn spoke out against the minimum wage increase as a “job killer.” Sanborn stated, “How many jobs are going to exist in the State of NH, if there are no more employers?” Sanborn even went as far to say that raising the minimum wage ignites a “war on employers.

You can see his entire statement in this video:

Senator Sanborn knows a lot about how business works, so that means we should listen to him on this right?

Sanborn currently owns “The Draft” a sports bar where servers make the NH tipped minimum wage ($3.13 per hour), and other workers make a little more than minimum wage.

Personally I do not understand how Senator Sanborn did not at least declare a conflict of interest on the minimum wage vote, seeing that one could interpret his vote as protecting his own profits rather than representing his constituents (keep in mind 76% of Granite Staters support the legislation).  That is because Senator Sanborn is really doing what he does best, looking out for himself.

In late 2004 and early 2005 Andy and his wife (Rep) Laurie Sanborn were the owners of Banagan’s, a chain of bike and ski shops throughout New Hampshire.  The ultimate small business owner’s dream, a growing business and expanding to multiple stores.  Except that in 2005, Sanborn was forced into court after Banagan’s filed bankruptcy.   Sanborn and his company left his supplier holding the bag for over $600,000 dollars in claims.  The settlement allowed Sanborn to use the money from his “going out of business sale” to pay off part of his business debts.

The Concord Monitor reported on the story in 2008 and spoke with Jack White, the Nashua lawyer who took Banagan’s to bankruptcy court on behalf of four equipment dealers.

“White isn’t convinced that even Sanborn believed he could pay all his debts with a closing sale. He said he thinks Sanborn’s main goal was, instead, to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, for which he was personally liable. Once the case landed in bankruptcy court, White said, the bank had to stand in line for payment along with the other companies owed money. And Sanborn became responsible for any part of the bank loan left unpaid.” (emphasis added)

The Concord Monitor also reported that Banagan’s would only end up paying $31,000 of the over $600,000 they owed to equipment suppliers.

Thankfully Banagan’s had enough money in the bank to pay back the personal loans Andy took out for the business, otherwise he would not have been able to open The Draft restaurant.

Prior to the opening of The Draft, Sanborn said he spent over $100,000 on televisions alone.

Somehow Sanborn had $100,000 to buy televisions for his new business, but only had $31,000 to pay his previous business suppliers.

Now the Sanborns, a State Senator, and a State Rep (wife Laurie), are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage knowing full well an increase would effect their businesses bottom line.

The Sanborns are doing what is best for them, and ignoring what the people of New Hampshire want and agree is best for the state.

NH Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Increase (Statement by Granite State Progress)

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Politician making $185,000 a year first to object to raising the wage for state’s lowest income earners

CONCORD, NH – The NH Senate voted 13-11 on party lines today to kill HB 1403, raising the state minimum wage. Statement from Granite State Progress:

“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”

“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said.

In an online poll yesterday Granite State Progress asked whether Senate Republicans would table the bill, vote it down immediately, or vote it down after making misleading arguments. Option C won online and in reality. Below is a round-up of key political statements from today’s floor debate:

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford called the bill “feel good legislation”. Bragdon signed a contract this week for an $185,000 per year job.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said that raising the wage would harm teenagers and entry level workers. In New Hampshire, 72 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old and have real breadwinner responsibilities. Bradley has previously refused to answer whether he believes in a minimum wage at all.

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm small businesses, particularly restaurants. Sanborn did not mention that he pays minimum wage to some of his workers at The Draft – nor did he declare a conflict of interest before voting against the bill.

Previously … Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield told the Laconia Citizen he “thinks it’s ‘silly’ to say that someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage as they can take on multiple jobs.”

In contrast, Senate Democrats spent an hour urging their colleagues to support the bill: 

Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord called the legislation “one of the most important issues this session.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators you must “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you make you decision.” Of the experience he said: “The minimum wage challenge produced such anxiety for me … I was shaken by the experience.”

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover also took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators:

“Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge this week, it quickly became obvious to me that I couldn’t live and work in Dover without public support for food and housing.  The usual amount provided for food is $37.75 a week, so I went to Janetos, a local downtown market where people without transportation can shop at good prices, and, given the kind of community Dover is, everyone feels welcome and accepted.  $5.45 a day meant careful meal planning. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, eggs, lots of potatoes and pasta, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, two pieces of chicken, a head of broccoli, carrots, milk, and toiletries.  As the funds dwindled, I felt that anxiety of not having enough, putting things back on the shelf, buying by lowest price for a smaller quantity, and seeing that any staple, such as flour, oil, coffee, would mean not enough food for meals.  In planning for one peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch, I recalled when I was working in a factory or in construction filling my lunch box with four to six sandwiches, fruit, cookies, milk, and eating every crumb to keep up strength for hard work.  There’s just not enough to keep body and soul together …

Everyday experiences become a crisis on minimum wage.  I had some surgery this week—would Medicaid have covered the procedure and the $25.00 copay, or would I have had to put it off, try to ignore the problem, and hope for the best?  Or when to fill the tank, looking for a gas station with prices a few pennies less, and seeing the $40.13 it cost just to get to work for a week meant 5-1/2 hours of pay. My old car’s due for an oil change, too. Every day becomes an emergency when the tank runs low.

Video of Sen. Watters participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge grocery shopping trip is below.

Granite State Rumblings: We Must Increase The Minimum Wage And Details Of Sen. Watters Min Wage Challenge

nhgroceries

The state minimum wage bill (HB1403) comes before the full Senate this Thursday, May 8th. HB 1403 would increase the state’s minimum wage in two steps, $8.25 per hour in 2015 and then to $9.00 per hour in 2016, and then ensure that it keeps pace with the cost of living moving forward.

minimum wageThis is an important piece of legislation for Granite State workers as they struggle to make ends meet each and every day. Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2016 would increase the wages, either directly or indirectly, of nearly 76,000 New Hampshire workers, resulting in an additional $64 million in wages, in the aggregate, being put into the state’s economy over the next two years. (source; NHFPI)

NH District 04 Senator, David Watters, saw how difficult it is to live on a minimum wage job when he took part in the Minimum Wage Challenge this past weekend in Dover with ECM-NH’s Field Director, MacKenzie Flessas. (See photos and read about it in Growing Up Granite below).

Over the past several months, five states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and West Virginia – have enacted legislation to increase their minimum wages, according to an article posted by the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

The report continues by informing us that Delaware’s wage standard will soon begin climbing towards $8.25 an hour, West Virginia’s will grow to $8.75 per hour, and, for some Minnesota employers, the wage floor will be set at $9.50 per hour. In Connecticut and Maryland, the minimum wage will eventually reach $10.10 per hour. As a result, by 2016, half of the states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the current federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

It is important to note that those states that have – or will have – a minimum wage in excess of the federal level tend to have something in common: a relatively high cost of living, as does New Hampshire.

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s (MERIC) research indicates that the cost of living in New Hampshire was close to 21 percent above the national average in 2013, driven principally by housing, utility, and health costs. The NHFPI article quotes The National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s recent Out of Reach report confirming how difficult it can be to meet some of these costs in the Granite State. It finds that New Hampshire was the 11th most expensive state in the country for renters in 2014.

As NHFPI Executive Director, Jeff McLynch pointed out in is testimony before the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee in February, “ in considering an increase in New Hampshire’s minimum wage, two claims are commonly made in opposition.  Neither have merit.”

“First, some maintain that the primary beneficiaries of any minimum wage increase would be teenagers.  ….an analysis of Current Population Survey data by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that 72 percent of the workers who would see a wage increase from a $9.00 per hour minimum wage are adults.  For many low-wage workers, their job is not a “starter” position or a “foot in the door.”  For many of them, their personal economic circumstances demand that they take whatever job they can find, simply to put a roof over their head, a jacket on their back, and food on the table – either just for themselves or for their family.”

“Second, others have argued, in keeping with traditional criticisms, that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will reduce employment.  Needless to say, this question has been explored for decades, but the most recent, high quality studies on the relationship between state minimum wages and employment levels find little evidence to suggest that raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage will produce large-scale job losses.  For instance, a 2010 study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, the University of North Carolina, and the University of California examined state minimum wage increases during the period from 1990 to 2006 using data from nearly 300 bordering counties that had differentials in their minimum wages.  It concludes that: ‘[Our] estimates suggest no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States…’”
See more at: http://www.nhfpi.org/research/nhfpi-testifies-support-increase-nh-minimum-wage.html#sthash.e2pklkci.dpuf

Every Child Matters in New Hampshire agrees with the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, our partner organizations in the Raise the Wage coalition and 76% of Granite State residents that it is time to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Doing so will help families make ends meet, boost sales at businesses across the State, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.

If you agree, please call your Senator today and let him/her know to support HB1403 on Thursday.

The Minimum Wage Challenge

nhstoop

ECM – NH Field Director MacKenzie Flessas and State Senator David Watters

This past weekend, Senator David Watters (District 4-Dover) and I sat down to talk about the challenges that families who are living on minimum wage face everyday in our state. The weekly wage for a minimum wage worker who works full-time is $290 before taxes.

Senator Watters was given a worksheet to divide his weekly expenses given his new minimum wage income. For the purpose of this exercise, it was assumed that Sen. Watters was currently receiving Food Stamps as a single person. The maximum amount of this assistance is $5.45 per day.

So we went into the grocery store with a budget of $38.10 (a week’s worth of Food Stamps benefits)

We began in the Produce section. While looking at the fresh vegetables, Sen. Watters said “I know I need vegetables, but I’m not sure if I can afford it yet.” I followed him around the store as he tried to make a meal plan for the week, settling for meals like eggs, bread and peanut butter, and pasta and sauce. At one point he was given the choice of feeding his cat or buying fresh vegetables. A compromise had to be made. One day a week of no food for his beloved cat would enable him to purchase broccoli. “Fresh food is too expensive for me.”

We checked out and came up with a total of $36.91. (84 cents under budget)  Senator Watters commented, “At times I just felt desperate. I no longer cared about brands, I only needed to look at prices.” He also recognized that he did not buy some essential items that he would need to purchase eventually, such as sugar, cooking oil, flour and dish soap.

And by the way, several of his purchases today are not allowable under the food stamps benefit: cat food, toothpaste, and shampoo, so they had to be paid for from his minimum wage earnings.

“I don’t know what I would do week after week, it would grind me down. It makes me understand what this is all about.”

As I reflect upon this challenge with Senator Watters, I think, what would families in our state do without these essential assistance programs? Even with the small amount of help that Sen. Watters was receiving during his Minimum Wage Challenge (housing assistance, heating assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid,) he was still not able to have a positive balance of money at the end of the month.

With more than 42,000 children in our state living in poverty, and for whom many of their families are making minimum wage or just above, I know that investing in an increase in minimum wage will give families the basic necessities that they need to grow healthy, productive children, which is an investment in New Hampshire’s future.

nhgroceries

The full Senate will vote on the increase in Minimum Wage on Thursday May 8th. I urge our Senators to stand up for the most vulnerable people in our state, the 15.6% of children living in poverty, and vote Ought to Pass on the Minimum Wage increase, HB1403.

Thank you Senator Watters for having the courage to take the challenge.

MacKenzie

To see what Senator Watters thought about the Minimum Wage Challenge view this YouTube Video.

Here is what Senator Watters bought with his weekly food allowance of $38.10:

Item Price  Balance
$37.75
10lb bag potatoes $4.99 $32.76
3lb onions $2.89 $29.87
Carrots $1.50 $28.37
1/2 Gallon milk $2.59 $25.78
Eggs $1.89 $23.89
Bread $1.79 $22.10
2lbs Chicken $1.26 $20.84
1/2 lb Cheese $2.78 $18.06
Linguine $1.39 $16.67
Rotini $1.39 $15.28
Canned tomatoes $1.99 $13.29
Cat food $4.50 $8.79
Shampoo $1.49 $7.30
Toothpaste $1.49 $5.81
Peanut butter $2.89 $2.92
Broccoli $2.89 $0.03
$36.91 ended up being the total, so something might have been on sale. $.84 left over from Food Budget

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Brown Dances Around Granite Stater’s Questions About Minimum Wage (VIDEO)

Screen shot 2014-05-02 at 5.49.39 PM

There are very few political issues that are truly bi-partisan, however raising the minimum wage is by far the one issue that Republicans and Democrats can agree on.  In a February poll from UNH, they found that 76% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage.  In the same survey 63% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats supported the NH minimum wage increase.  Even 50% of those people who “support the TEA Party” supported raising the NH minimum wage.

I cannot think of any other issue that has such high support by the people, except background checks on guns sales (91% support), that some politicians continue to reject.

In spite of strong bi-partisan support, Senator Scott Brown will not say whether he supports raising the minimum wage.  Twice in the last week Brown was confronted by real Granite Staters who asked him straight out if he supported raising the minimum wage.  This is a key issue because the Senate held their first (of many) votes to overcome the GOP filibuster on raising the federal minimum wage.

Brown’s answer ……..ummm……. You can see his official response in these videos.

“I’ve supported a minimum wage increase before. It’s something that I think needs to be periodically reviewed, but it’s really important to make sure that everyone’s at the table, especially people who are hiring and growing,” Brown told the Concord Monitor.

Brown repeated the exact same canned response when confronted by Arnie Alpert, a well-known advocate for low-wage workers, and supporter of raising the minimum wage.

Brown did say that he has supported a minimum wage increase in the past, but would like to read the bill and see what they are debating.  He also mentioned that, “everyone needs to have a seat at the table…so that everyone has an input.”

By “everyone” I think that Brown is referring to his Wall Street friends, or should I say funders, have to say (which is obviously a no) on raising the minimum wage.

Senator Shaheen is not shy about supporting a minimum wage increase: “New Hampshire workers deserve a fair wage for an honest day’s work, and I will continue fighting to increase the minimum wage so we can strengthen our economy and give hardworking Americans a fair shot at success.”

Raising the federal minimum wage would help over 110,000 Granite Staters of which 67,000 of them are women, but you will not find any information about the minimum wage on Scott Browns website.

“Scott Brown needs to decide if he’s running for office or for Mr. Congeniality,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Brown wants people to vote for him before he’ll share where he stands on major issues. That’s because Brown is likely to stand with the billionaire Koch brothers bankrolling his campaign over the working people of New Hampshire. He wants your votes and he wants his campaign contributions, so he’s trying to play it both ways by ducking voter questions. That won’t work for him in a state like New Hampshire.”

When someone asks you if you support the minimum wage, the answer should be simple.  This is just another reason not to support the carpetbagger, recently turned NH resident, Scott Brown.

************

(On a total side note, did you hear what Charlie (the sheet metal worker) said at the end of the video? When I heard it I about fell off my chair laughing.  If you did not hear it the first time, go back and listen again.  He told Brown that if he loses this race, he has some nice property in Maine he might be interested in.) 

3 Things You Need to Know about Today’s Minimum Wage Vote

profits vs minimum wage

Here’s the first thing:
Today, the Senate did not vote on raising the minimum wage.  (If they had voted, the bill would almost certainly have passed.)
Rather: today’s vote was on whether to end a filibuster.  The filibuster is a parliamentary maneuver that allows a minority of Senators to prevent the full Senate from voting on a measure.  Since President Obama was elected, the GOP has used the filibuster to drive Congress into gridlock.  (Read more about the filibuster and Scott Brown here.)
The Senate can still vote again (and again) in the future on whether to end the filibuster.

Here’s the second thing:
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has been keeping track of corporate profits since 1947.  For the first 40 years after that, there was an almost perfect relationship between total corporate profits and the minimum wage: total corporate profits were almost exactly 55 billion times the minimum wage.  But once the 1986 corporate tax cut started impacting the economy, that changed. (It changed even more after the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts.)

profits vs minimum wage


And here’s the third thing:

Today’s vote to end the filibuster failed by only six votes.  New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte was one of them.

4-30-14 Minimum Wage Filibuster Vote