New ROC Video Shows Sub-Minimum Wage Is “An Enduring Legacy Of Slavery”

onefairwage Video tells the story of the slave history of the tipped minimum wage for restaurant workers.

New York, NY – Today, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and One Billion Rising released a new video called “The Time is Now…for #1FairWage,” featuring award winning actor, activist and V-Day Board member Thandie Newton, star of HBO’s upcoming series Westworld, and New York-based actor and ROC member, Chantal Georges. Director Sekou Luke is an independent artist who is a former restaurant worker and member of ROC. 

The video is a direct and artful attack on the racist history of the separate, lower wage for tipped workers in the U.S. Newton describes the subminimum wage as an economic system rooted in the nation’s history of slavery that subjected people of color to different standards of governing employment. This legacy persists to this day in the form of a $2.13 federal tipped minimum wage.

Newton said of her participation in this video, “I’m proud to be working with One Billion Rising and ROC to bring the nation’s attention to the racist history of the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which forces millions of workers– more than two-thirds of them women–to endure widespread abuse and exploitation. It’s an enduring legacy of slavery, and it has to stop now.”

The two-tiered system of a separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers has left nearly 4.5 million working people across the country struggling to survive on poverty wages. The common misperception is that tipped workers are largely white men in their thirties, making six figures at a fine-dining establishment. To the contrary, they are overwhelmingly women and people of color, working at casual restaurants like Denny’s and The Olive Garden. Forced to rely on tips — and thus the whims of customers — to make ends meet, they disproportionately endure financial insecurity, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

Currently seven states — California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Minnesota and Nevada — have eliminated the tipped minimum wage, establishing One Fair Wage for all workers, and they have watched their restaurant industries soar. Furthermore, The White House and Department of Justice support One Fair Wage, as does the Democratic Party, which has included the elimination of the subminimum wage system in their official platform.

This video is being released in conjuncture with the launch of the fifth year of One Billion Rising global campaign, which will focus on and give increased visibility to the exploitation of women and violence against women in the workplace, and build global solidarity to demand an end to violence in all forms. The campaign will feature actions, art, and events that highlight unprecedented forms of labor abuse women face, focusing on economic and sexual exploitation.

 “We are proud to partner with Thandie and ROC United in the creation of this video that we hope will illuminate the legacy of slavery which laid the groundwork for the exploitative wages and practices that women in the restaurant industry endure today.  We hope this video will inspire everyone and anyone who has ever been served by a waitress to Rise in Solidarity to end exploitation towards restaurant workers and to demand One Fair Wage,” stated Eve Ensler, playwright, activist, and Founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising.

“Once the best kept secret in the restaurant industry, the racist origins of tipping in America is a story that must be told,” said Saru Jayaraman, ROC United’s co-founder. “In post-slavery America, tipping was viewed as a demeaning practice fit only for former slaves, whom business owners resented having to pay. Nearly two hundred years later, that rationale and practice — that tipped workers should rely on customers rather than their employers for a living wage — continues to persist, aided and abetted by the lobbying efforts of powerful restaurant industry giants like the National Restaurant Association. We must end this despicable legacy once and for all. We’re excited to partner with Thandie Newton and One Billion Rising to bring this important story to the world.”

Watch the video here

#1FairWage #TheTimeIsNow #RiseInSolidarity

Business Economist And Industry Shill Now Chair Of Health Economics At UNH

unh-peter-paul-schoolThe University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics just hired one of the business industry’s biggest shills in the fight against raising the minimum wage.

Dr Joseph Sabia

Professor Joseph Sabia

Professor Joseph J. Sabia has been well quoted in newspapers for his work opposing the minimum wage. Lobbyists for the National Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Federation of Independent Business also use Sabia’s work to convince lawmakers to oppose any wage increases by saying it will kill jobs and hurt low-income workers.

The New Hampshire Union Leader just printed one of Sabia’s hit pieces in the editorial section of Friday’s paper. The editorial, “Another View — Joseph J. Sabia: The $15 minimum wage is an empty promise to the poor,” attempts to prove that raising the minimum wage will hurt New Hampshire families. He says that poor people are just lazy and there is not connection between the minimum wage and poverty.

A $15 minimum wage has been championed as an anti-poverty measure. But the majority of poor people do not work and will not benefit from a higher minimum wage. According to 2014 Census data, less than 40 percent of poor individuals actually work.”

This 40% lie has been busted by a variety of economic institutions. The Economic Policy Institute published a report in 2015 addressing this claim specifically and found that over 63% of those living in poverty do work.

Despite what some policymakers and pundits might have us believe, a significant share of the poor work. This means that policies that boost employment and wages are important and underappreciated tools for reducing poverty. To boost wage-growth and reduce poverty rates, a policy agenda must include provisions to raise the minimum wage, raise the overtime threshold, eliminate wage theft, and strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights,” wrote Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute.


Richard Berman, Lawyer and Lobbyist

Professor Sabia and his work also have direct ties to Rick Berman’s public relations firm. Berman’s firm is widely known for their work pushing Right to Work, creating misleading -borderline untruthful- information about the minimum wage, and helps corporations like Wal-Mart block unionizing efforts.

In 1991, Berman founded the Employment Policies Institute that began lobbying against raising the minimum wage. “Berman also founded the Center for Consumer Freedom, which lobbies for meat, drink and tobacco industries, and the Center for Union Facts, which lobbies against unions,” wrote Ben Schiller at Fast Company online.

Sabia has been doing anti-minimum wage research for years at different colleges and universities across the country. Most recently he was at San Diego State University where he pumped out reports with grant money from Berman’s public relations firm.

Eric Lipton of the New York Times wrote about this in 2014:

Joseph J. Sabia, an associate professor of economics at San Diego State University, who has collected at least $180,000 in grant money from Mr. Berman’s group over the last eight years to deliver seven separate reports, each one concluding that increasing the minimum wage has caused more harm than good — or at least no significant benefit for the poor.

As noted above, in 1991, Berman created the Employment Policies Institute or EPI as they like to call themselves. If the acronym EPI rings a bell, that is what Berman wants. They did it intentionally to confuse people the Economic Policy Institute that has been publishing detailed economic reports for over 30 years and “whose staffers are very unhappy with the alphabetical confusion.”

The Employment Policies Institute is a wholly disingenuous group funded by companies that stand to lose from minimum wage increases,” wrote Ben Schiller at Fast Company online.

Why do Sabia and Berman’s Employment Policies Institute create these reports? To get them directly into the hands of the lobbyists who work for the corporations that fund Berman’s public relations firm.

What is clear is that the reports by the Employment Policies Institute are a critical element in the lobbying campaign against the increase in the minimum wage, as restaurant industry groups, in their own statements and news releases, often cite the institute’s reports, creating the Washington echo chamber effect that is so coveted by industry lobbyists,” continued Lipton of the New York Times.

You see the Employment Policies Institute is just another one of Berman’s nonprofit businesses in name only, as they do not have any employees. Berman’s public relations firm completes all of the work that is sent out by the Employment Policies Institute. Berman then bills “EPI” for his services and boom, corporate money laundering complete.

This arrangement effectively means that the nonprofit is a moneymaking venture for Mr. Berman, whose advertising firm was paid $1.1 million by the institute in 2012, according to its tax returns, or 44 percent of its total budget, with most of the rest of the money used to buy advertisements.

Berman has even created a new app for IPhone and Android to help employers fight against minimum wage increases.

If companies are worried that they might be forced to actually pay their workers enough to live, they have a willing ally in the Employment Policies Institute… Wage Engage allows business owners to track minimum wage legislation in states relevant to them, and to offer their opinion about the impact of such increases,” added Schiller(Read more about “Wage Engage”)  

Peter T Paul (UNH Photo Services)

Peter T Paul (UNH Photo Services)

Sabia was hired as Professor of Economics & Forrest D. McKerley Chair of Health Economics at the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics. The school was recently renamed after UNH Alum and wealthy California businessman Peter T Paul after a very sizable donation to the school. In addition to having the school named after him, Paul also is a member of the school’s Board of Directors.

Many people do not know much about the man the school is named after. Paul founded Headlands Mortgage known for creating and selling “Alt-A” mortgages that many attributed to the financial collapse in 2007.

Headlands Mortgage, which he founded in 1986, called them Alt-A loans: Alternative “high-quality” loans. The California-based company examined the worth of the home and the down payment, the amount of cash in the bank, and the credit history, but was looser on income verification,” wrote Bob Sanders of the NH Business Review.

Paul sold his lucrative mortgage company to GreenPoint for “$473 million” reported Sanders.After selling GreenPoint, Paul started Paul Financial, which flourished and later failed, resulting in large losses for himself and his borrowers. And it became the target of a class-action truth-in-lending suit that was settled last November for $1.75 million.”

Then Paul decided he wanted to get more involved in New Hampshire politics. Paul created a Super PAC to support his friend and former UNH Business School Dean, Dan Innis in his run for Congress in 2014.

Mother Jones reported, “Paul created a super-PAC, New Hampshire Priorities PAC, and financed it with $562,000.

In 2014, Innis lost his primary bid for Congress to the corrupt Congressman Frank Guinta. This year, Innis chose to run for New Hampshire State Senate and guess whom he is bringing with him? 

“I am excited for the opportunity to refocus NH Priorities PAC on state races during the 2016 election cycle. In particular, the PAC will be focusing on recruiting and supporting candidates for the Executive Council, State Senate, and House of Representatives who are committed to offering fiscally responsible solutions to the issues impacting our great state,” wrote Peter T Paul on the NH Priorities PAC website.

So why do I find this newly hired economist to the University of New Hampshire so dubious? Because the minimum wage is one of the biggest issues driving this election cycle.

We have a Presidential election between Hillary Clinton, who supports a minimum wage increase and Donald Trump who says workers are already paid too much.

We have a US Senate race between Senator Kelly Ayotte who opposed minimum wage legislation in the Senate and Governor Maggie Hassan who has pushed for an increase in the minimum wage since her time in the NH State Senate.

We also have a Gubernatorial race between Executive Councilor Chris Sununu who opposes increasing the minimum wage in New Hampshire and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern who advocates for a higher minimum wage and suggested a baseline of $12 an hour. Van Ostern also says he will sign any increase to the minimum wage that passes the Legislature.

For the first time in many, many, many years we are really close to getting the Legislature to raise the minimum wage and that is scaring some of the greedy CEO’s who fund groups like Berman’s Employment Policies Institute.

They are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to cover up the truth about the benefits of raising the minimum wage. By convincing people that raising the minimum wage is wrong they are trying to convince voters to reject candidates who support the increase.

I refuse to let Berman, a D.C. front man for the restaurant and business industry, Peter T Paul, a wealthy Wall Street gambler from California, and Sabia, an economist for hire funded by grants from a fake “institute” tell me what is best for the people of New Hampshire.

None of these men have the best interests of working Granite Staters’ in mind when they are pushing their agenda. These men are only interested in maximizing their personal profits and taking from the hard working people struggling every day to get by.

Related Reading:

Fight Over Minimum Wage Illustrates Web of Industry Ties

Rick Berman and the Libertarian Shell Game

Control of US Senate Could Hinge on Candidates’ Positions on Minimum Wage

Voters in 7 states Overwhelmingly support raising minimum wage – and incumbents who oppose it pay a big penalty

Washington, DC – New polling shows voters in key swing states overwhelmingly support increasing the federal minimum wage and that candidates’ positions on raising pay could play a pivotal role in this year’s fight for control of the U.S. Senate. The results show incumbent Republican U.S. senators locked in close races could lose critical support – and even their seats – over opposition to raising wages for working people.

The polls were conducted August 25-29 by Public Policy Polling in seven states with competitive Senate races – Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  In each of the seven states, voters are less likely to support their incumbent Republican senators when informed of their votes against raising the federal minimum wage above $7.25 per hour.

In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, Democratic challengers strengthen their lead when voters were made aware of the Republican senator’s voting record on the minimum wage. And in Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina Democratic challengers actually pull ahead, flipping the contests on their heads.

“The findings of the polls are clear: swing state voters in this election are looking for candidates who will stand with them in supporting a strong minimum wage increase.  Elected officials who oppose raising the minimum wage do so at their political peril,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.

In each state, at least 67% of voters support raising the federal minimum wage above its current level of $7.25 per hour, including 74% of voters in Pennsylvania and 72% of voters in North Carolina. At least 57% of voters back an increase to $15 per hour, including 63% in both Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

“Voters are fed up with lack of action in Washington on raising wages for working people, and what we’re seeing is that just letting voters know where the candidates stand on these issues can have a significant impact,” said Dan Cantor, executive director of Working Families.

During a recent WMUR question and answer session, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte simultaneously admitted that the minimum wage is not livable and doubled down on her opposition to raising it.

When asked by a participant whether she will “stand with New Hampshire workers to raise the minimum wage,” Ayotte responded “if we focus on the minimum wage, we’re, we’re losing sight of what we should be focusing on, which is better paying jobs because you can’t live on minimum wage.”

“My mom and I both work at Wendy’s, making $7.25 an hour and no matter how hard or long we work, we still don’t make enough to cover the basics like rent or a trip to the doctors,” said Manchester resident Kimberly Harrell. “But this election season, voters like me are changing that. We know that in our state every vote counts and we’re going to use our power to elect candidates who stand up for raising pay. Our message is simple: support a wage increase, and we’ll support you.”

The poll was commissioned by the NELP Action Fund, which that conducts research and advocates on issues that affect low-wage and unemployed workers. NELP Action, which is a project of The Advocacy Fund, is partnering with the Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, Working Families and dozens of grassroots groups in the seven states on a campaign to mobilize voters around the minimum wage in the 2016 election. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the coalition plans to engage in canvassing, hold candidate forums, and wage debate protests, among other actions, to energize voters around candidates’ positions on the raising the minimum wage.

Over the past three and a half years, more than 50 states, cities and counties have passed minimum wage increases via legislation or ballot initiative. Nearly 20 million workers have seen wage increases, and 10 million of those workers are on the path to a $15 wage. But the federal minimum wage remains at just $7.25 due to gridlock and obstructionism in Washington. More than 10 million workers across the seven states polled are paid less than $15 per hour, including more than 7 million who are paid less than $12 per hour. Low wages force taxpayers in these states to pick up $25 billion per year in public assistance to working families, according to the UC Berkley Center for Labor Research and Education.

“Voters deserve elected leaders who share their values and will stand with them on bedrock issues like good jobs and fair wages,” said JoEllen Chernow, Director of Economic Justice at the Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund. “Over the next two months we’ll be letting voters know where the candidates are on giving America the raise it needs.”

The PPP poll is the latest in a body of research that shows growing support for raising wages in America. In January 2015, Hart Research Associates found that 75% of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $12.50, while 63% of Americans support raising the wage to $15. A poll of underpaid workers by Harris Interactive and Yougov last year showed among registered voters paid less than $15, 65% are more likely to vote in the upcoming election if a candidate supports $15 and a union for all workers.

Senator Sanborn Lines His Pockets By Refusing To Raise The Minimum Wage

The Hypocrisy Of Senator Sanborn’s Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

For many years now New Hampshire legislators have been locked in a battle over raising the state’s minimum wage. After Republicans repealed the state’s minimum wage law, the New Hampshire minimum wage defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. For “tipped” workers the starting wage is even worse. The state’s tipped minimum wage is $3.30 an hour.

One of the biggest opponents to raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage is businessman and State Senator Andy Sanborn. Sanborn owns “The Draft Sports Bar and BBQ Grill” in Concord.

In his opposition to raising the minimum wage Sanborn states that raising the minimum wage is a “war on employers” but fails to mention that his vote against an increase is all about protecting his own self interest.

In August, Sanborn’s bar The Draft put up listings on Craigslist and iHireHospitalityServices looking for servers at a starting wage of $3.50 an hour plus tips.

iHireHospitalityServices - 09-01-16Jeanne Dietsch, a Democrat and successful technology entrepreneur seeking the nomination on September 13 to challenge Sanborn in District 9, took Sanborn to task for paying poverty wages in a statement released Tuesday morning:

“This confirmation that Sen. Sanborn pays his servers a starting wage of $3.50 an hour explains why he has been such a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Taxpayers pick up the tab for underpaid employees’ food stamps and health care subsidies, while their employers pocket profits.

“Republicans argue raising wages will cause prices to rise and no one will be better off. However, our economy is being dragged down by the low wages employers like Sanborn, are paying. Young workers are living with parents because they can’t afford to start their own households, buy their own furniture and appliances. Workers with families have no discretionary income to drive the consumer economy. Raising the minimum wage will put more money in people’s pockets to spend in local businesses, and that’s what will raise all boats.

“Employers who pay lower than a living wage are not job creators. They are moochers, who expect the rest of us to pick up the bill for their workers’ food stamps and health care subsidies. That’s probably why Sen. Sanborn’s $3.50 per hour wage would be against the law in 22 states – and not just ‘blue’ states or ‘rich’ states. In Alaska, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $9.75 an hour. In Montana, it’s $8.05 an hour. In Nevada, it’s $8.25 an hour.

“It’s time to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire, including a raise for tipped workers. Raising the minimum wage will boost our economy, save taxpayers money and help moms and dads better care for their families.”

In 2013, over 11,000 workers were paid at or below the minimum wage. One recent proposal would have raised the minimum wage to $9.00 that would have lifted the wages of over 76,000 workers in the Granite State. An increase to $9.00 would boost the wages of 11% of hourly workers in the Concord area alone and 12% across the entire state. Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate rejected this proposal.

In February of this year, Senate Republicans rejected another proposal by Senator Donna Soucy to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12.00 an hour. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 would have benefitted 141,000 New Hampshire workers, 60% of which are women and 84% of which are above the age of 20.

With the 9th highest cost of living in the country, low-wage workers are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their rent. To keep the cost of housing below 35% of their income, a minimum wage worker in New Hampshire would need to work at least 100 hours a week.

It is time to elect representatives who will follow the will of the people, not their own greedy self interests. Over 70% of Granite Staters support a minimum wage increase to $10 an hour, yet Republicans like Senator Sanborn continue to reject even modest increases.

On Day One Of The DNC, Labor Advocates Push For A Higher Minimum Wage #RaiseItDamnIt

On First Day Of Democratic National Convention, CWA, SEIU Presidents, PA Senate Candidate, L.A. Mayor Call On Congress To Raise the Minimum Wage

CWA President Chris Shelton speaks at #RaiseItDamnIt Event at DNC

CWA President Chris Shelton speaks at #RaiseItDamnIt Event at DNC

National and state advocates launch #RaiseItDamnIt campaign to declare $7.25 is not enough on the 7th anniversary of last increase in the federal minimum wage

As Republicans in Congress block minimum wage increase, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have raised the wage since 2014

PHILADELPHIA — Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Katie McGinty, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor, Bishop Dwayne Royster and airport worker Onetha McKnight today called for policymakers and businesses to ensure all working people earn a living wage.

Coming on the heels of the most divisive and anti-worker Republican National Convention ever, over 100 advocacy groups, including Center for American Progress, Center for Popular Democracy, Economic Policy Institute, the Fairness Project, National Employment Law Project, the Working Families Party, and others are holding a national day of action on the anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25 an hour.  More than 50 canvassers arrived in Philadelphia as the Democratic National Convention began, and actions in states around the country are demonstrating support to #RaiseItDamnIt on social media with a trending hashtag and over 1 million social media impressions so far today. Popular Twitter accounts also tweeted about the day of action, including: @BarackObama, @SenatorReid, @LaborSec, @PattyMurray. and others. The website,, will continue to be the online organizing hub of activity.

“Working families are suffering because, for too long, our elected officials have refused to act. A living wage isn’t a luxury, it’s a right that must be enforced by raising the federal minimum wage,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. 

“All workers deserve $15 an hour and the ability to have a voice on the job by joining a union,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “This November, working families face a clear choice between Hillary Clinton, who supports our movement, and Donald Trump, who thinks wages are already too high. This election is the most consequential of their lifetime and the stakes could not be higher.”

The last increase to the minimum wage was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and supported by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Raising the wage is popular with the American public: 63 percent of Americans support a $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020, and a September 2015 poll found that, by a 3-1 margin, voters are more likely to support political candidates who favor raising the minimum wage.  

“It is time for us to enable our citizens to be able to make a living wage and have the opportunity to thrive,” said Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty. “Right now, people making the minimum wage are struggling to get by, and we need to do better for Pennsylvania workers and for workers around the country.” 

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who signed a $15 an hour minimum wage bill into law in Los Angeles in 2015 said, “No American who works hard should be forced to live in poverty. For the 600,000 Angelenos this will affect, the bill is a lifesaver. But we can’t stop until all Americans earn a living wage.”

“There are millions of Americans in states red, blue, and purple who struggle to put food on the table everyday. It’s a national disgrace,” said Dan Cantor, National Director of the Working Families Party. “Politicians should shut out the lobbyists for the 1 percent long enough to hear the truth, and those who can’t should pay the price.”

Four states will also bring minimum wage referendums to their voters this fall, as Colorado today submitted 200,000 signatures, more than twice the required amount, to join Arizona, Maine, and Washington. This comes on the heels of two of the most populous states in the country – California and New York – passing a $15 an hour minimum wage increase, earlier this year.

“As a father, husband, minister and social justice advocate in Philadelphia, I see first-hand how the minimum wage marginalizes people of color and contributes to the cycle of poverty we are stuck in,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, Founding Pastor of Living Water UCC. “Economic justice must be sought alongside racial justice.”

“I stood with my brothers and sisters on strike to demand what we deserve: a higher wage and access to a union,” said Onetha McKnight, a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport. McKnight and her co-workers have been organizing for more than three years and just last week were victorious in their demands for a fair process to form their union and negotiate a living wage

“Because of Republican obstruction, the federal minimum wage has been frozen at just $7.25 for seven years – locking more than 35 million American workers in low-paying jobs. Today, families and voters across the country are saying enough is enough – we need national leadership that will #RaiseItDamnIt,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.

“The call for a higher minimum wage is getting louder all around the country – because it’s getting harder and harder to put food on the table, afford rent, or support a family,” said JoEllen Chernow, Director of Economic Justice at Center for Popular Democracy. “We’ve waited nearly a decade for a meaningful raise, and we simply cannot wait one more. It’s time to give Americans a raise and ensure we support all working families in this country.”

Democratic Platform Draft Calls for $15 Minimum Wage, Elimination of Tipped Wage

 Democratic Platform’s Wage Proposal Would Bring Fair Base Wage to Millions, Improve Lives of Workers in Restaurant Industry

waitress black and whiteNew York, NY — On Saturday afternoon, the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee issued a draft of the policy positions Sec. Clinton will be running on this November. According to a statement by Clinton campaign senior policy advisor Maya Harris, the draft platform “contains ambitious, progressive principles on wages, stating that working people should earn at least $15 an hour, citing New York’s minimum wage law and calling for raising and indexing the federal minimum wage. It also calls for the elimination of the ‘tipped’ wage and for the right of workers to form or join a union.”

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), a national leader on efforts to establish “One Fair Wage” and eliminate the tipped minimum wage, hails this as a victory:

“Establishing a $15 base wage for all workers and eliminating the tipped minimum is a major step toward correcting decades of injustice and improving the lives of millions of fellow Americans — especially women and people of color. The restaurant industry, in particular, has lagged way behind in wages: the federal tipped minimum has remained $2.13 for 25 years, and nearly half of tipped workers live near the poverty line. As a result of having to work for tips with no fair base wage, restaurant workers have to endure all kinds of sexual harassment from both customers and staff: 90% have reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job, according to our research. The separate tipped minimum wage also has created a ‘two-tier’ system that has placed an enormous burden on the restaurant business. 

“Secretary Clinton pledged her support for eliminating the tipped minimum wage during a visit to ROC’s COLORS restaurant a few months ago, and we thank her, and Senator Sanders who has been an ardent supporter of One Fair Wage, and other members of the platform committee for working to bring a fair base wage to low-wage workers across the U.S.”

Tipped Wage Facts (view research here):

–The US is the only industrialized nation where tipped workers depend on tips for a majority of their income.  

–With over 11 million employees, the restaurant industry is one of the largest growing industries in the nation, and the largest employer of minimum wage workers (1 in 12 Americans)

–90% of restaurant workers have been sexually harassed on the job; Absent a stable base wage, tipped workers are forced to tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers on whose tips they depend to feed their families, and from co-workers and management who often influence shifts and hours

–Nearly 70% of restaurant workers are women

–53% of tipped workers are people of color

–Half of restaurant workers live at or near the poverty line

–The last time the Federal tipped minimum wage was raised was in 1991

–1 in 7 tipped workers relies on food stamps to feed themselves and their families

Granite State Rumblings: Affordable Housing Vs Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage Vs HoursOut of Reach 2016, a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition tells us that in no state, metropolitan area, or county can a full-time worker earning the prevailing minimum wage afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

In 2016, the national Housing Wage is $20.30 for a two-bedroom rental unit and $16.35 for a one-bedroom rental unit. A worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 2.8 full time jobs, or approximately 112 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at HUD’s Fair Market Rent (FMR). If this worker slept for eight hours per night, he or she would have no remaining time during the week for anything other than working and sleeping.

As Julian Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development points out, “Three-quarters of extremely low-income families pay more than half of their income just to keep a roof over their heads, leaving less money for food, child care, transportation, and so many other basic necessities. And it’s not just people of very modest means who are working harder to make ends meet.  Last year, rising rents in a number of cities outpaced the rate of inflation, which is hurting low-and moderate-income Americans… The crisis is also affecting seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes.”

According to the report, the lowest income households face the greatest housing affordability challenges. Extremely low income (ELI) households have income at or below 30% of their area median. On average, they can afford to spend no more than $507 per month on housing costs. An individual relying on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in 2016 can only afford monthly rent of $220. Meanwhile, the national average monthly rent for a modest one-bedroom apartment is $850. The national average cost of a modest one-bedroom apartment would consume more than a single SSI recipient’s entire income. Such an individual would be unable to maintain shelter without housing assistance.

Wage stagnation and income inequality contribute to the gap between what people earn and the cost of their housing. From 2007 to 2015, the bottom 10% of wage earners saw a 0.2% increase in real hourly wages, while the top 5% saw an 8.7% increase, continuing a long-term trend of growing income equality. Between 1979 and 2013, the bottom 10% of wage earners saw a 5.3% decline in real hourly wages, while the top 5% saw a 40.6% increase.

The demand for rental housing is at its highest level since the 1960s.  In the past decade alone, the U.S. has added nine million renter households, but only 8.2 million rental housing units to its housing stock. Vacancy rates are at their lowest levels since 1985 and rents have risen at an annual rate of 3.5%, the fastest pace in three decades.

Growth in the supply of low cost rental units has not kept pace with the significant growth in demand. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of low cost units renting for less than $400 increased by 10%, but the number of renter households in need of these units increased by 40%.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, public investments in housing programs are essential to address the shortage of rental housing affordable and available to ELI and VLI households. One new and promising tool for addressing this shortage is the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF).

The HTF is the first new federal housing program in a generation to focus on Extremely Low Income (ELI) households. It will receive a first time allocation of nearly $173.6 million in the summer of 2016 for distribution to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. At least 90% of HTF funds must be used to build, preserve, or rehabilitate rental housing affordable to ELI and Very Low Income (VLI) households. A maximum of ten percent (10%) of HTF funds can be used for affordable homeownership activities. At least 75% of funds must benefit ELI households, and up to 25% can benefit VLI households.

Out of Reach 2016 highlights the affordability gap between the cost of rental housing and the wages of millions of renters who do not earn enough to afford a decent and safe home without significant sacrifice. Low income renters face the greatest challenge. Higher wages and a greater supply of affordable rental housing are necessary. If we make further gains in minimum wage legislation and expand funding for the national Housing Trust Fund, we can address the affordability gap.


In New Hampshire, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,097. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $3,655 monthly or $43,865 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into an hourly Housing Wage of $21.09.

Mind the Gap: Housing Costs Outpace Earnings for Thousands of NH Renters

By Elissa Margolin

Many Granite State families breathed a little easier as New Hampshire gained jobs, and its leaders rightly took a victory lap as unemployment rates fell to the second-lowest in the nation.

But new reports show a side of the state’s economy that is not often measured: the significant gap between what families earn and what housing costs in NH.

According to the 2016 Out of Reach report, an annual look at what it takes to pay the rent around the country, NH families now need to make over $21 an hour to afford rent and make all ends meet. There are about 150,000 renter households in NH, and their mean salary is just $14.08 an hour, according to the report’s author, the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Standard economic practice suggests no more than 1/3 of income is spent on rent and utilities in order to have enough left for groceries, childcare, and transportation. That means the average renter family should ideally not spend more than $732/month on housing expenses. Meanwhile, in NH, fair market rent statewide is $1,097 a month, and even higher in places like the Seacoast.

It’s not hard to see where the struggle begins.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) recently released two reports detailing how difficult it can be to make ends meet here in the Granite State.  For instance, NHFPI finds that the incomes families need to secure basic necessities here in NH are actually several times the official poverty threshold.  A family of three living in the Strafford/Great Bay area, for example, needs an income of more than $63,000 per year to purchase essentials like housing, food, and medical and child care.

The upshot? Families are either paying more for housing than they can afford, sacrificing from groceries, or perhaps settling for situational childcare that is not of high quality or reliability.

The good news is New Hampshire has some tools in the toolbox to close the gap between housing costs and incomes and attain better outcomes for families, businesses and communities. The state recently removed a regulatory barrier standing in the way of private homeowners who wish to add accessory dwelling units to their homes, adding to the supply of units for people with disabilities, seniors, caregivers and young people just starting out. NH should now step up to fund its state housing trust fund in a meaningful way, as most other states do, in order to add more affordable rental homes to our inadequate supply. NH must also look at wage policies, including re-establishing its own minimum wage and raising it to a level that better meets the needs of the modern economy.

In the long run, housing must be included in the equation toward a more family-friendly economy.

Elissa Margolin is director of Housing Action NH, a statewide coalition of 80 organizations and businesses united around a common vision that everyone benefits when all Granite Staters have a safe, affordable place to call home. At

Fat Profits, But Lean Wages: Workers To Protest At McDonalds Shareholder Meeting

  • Fight for $15 Vows Biggest-Ever Protest at McDonald’s Shareholder Meeting
Mcdonalds fight for 15 strike

Fight for 15 strike in 2015

As Fast-Food Giant’s Profits Grow, 10,000 Workers to Flood Company HQ, Demand Higher Pay So They Don’t Have to Rely on Food Stamps

Strike for $15, Union Rights by Chicago-Area Fast-Food Workers to Kick Off Two Days of Protest

Oak Brook, Ill. – McDonald’s cooks and cashiers announced Thursday that thousands of underpaid workers fighting for $15/hour and union rights nationwide will converge in the Chicago area next week to wage the largest-ever protests to hit the fast-food giant’s annual shareholder meeting.

Fast-food workers across Chicago and its suburbs will kick off two days of protests by walking off their jobs Wednesday morning, followed in the afternoon by a massive march of a record 10,000 fast-food, home care, child care, and other underpaid workers on the company’s Oak Brook, Ill. headquarters. The protesters will argue it is wrong for a company whose stock just hit an all-time high to pay wages so low that its workers are compelled to rely on public assistance to scrape by.

McDonald’s profits in the first quarter rose 35%, propelled largely by the company’s move to serve breakfast all day, prompting the New York Times to argue in an editorial, “Fat Profits, but Lean Wages,” that it’s time for the company to share its good fortune with its workers.

“McDonald’s sales are going through the roof, but my children have to live with their grandparents because I can’t afford to keep a roof over our heads as long as my paycheck is stuck at minimum wage,” said George McCray, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago, Ill., who is paid $8.25/hour. “We’ve been working hard to make new changes like the All-Day Breakfast a success and have helped make the company billions, but our wages haven’t budged. How much longer will McDonald’s workers have to wait before the company’s success benefits us too?”

On Thursday morning, thousands of workers will take their demand for $15/hour and union rights directly to the company’s shareholder meeting. Underpaid workers from across the service sector – joined by McDonald’s workers from five countries spanning three continents – will demand that McDonald’s use its global economic footprint to lift up working families across the economy rather than hold them down. They’ll argue that McDonald’s is driving a race to the bottom that is hurting workers across the service economy.

Rob Mercier, a low wage worker from New Hampshire, will be one of those speaking out at the McDonalds shareholder meeting next week.

“I worked for McDonald’s for more than two years, struggling to pay bills and unable to afford to buy basic items like diapers and bottles for my newborn son at the time, said Rob Mercier, a member of the Fight for $15 in New Hampshire and a line cook at 5 Guys earning $9.00 an hour. “I worked long hours, picked up shifts, and worked overnight because my pay was too low, and when raises came around I was rewarded with a measly ten cents. That was a slap in the face. McDonald’s is the largest fast-food restaurant in the world and it’s time they do more than lead the fast-food industry by profits and start to lead by lifting up struggling families like mine.”

McDonalds low wages are not only hurting fast food workers they are driving down wages for workers all across the country in their race to the bottom.

“This isn’t just about fast-food workers or McDonald’s workers – McWages are holding us all back,” said Vicki Treadwell, a Milwaukee home care worker who is paid just $10.75/hour after 25 years on the job. “As long as McDonald’s fails to pay fair wages and rips off taxpayers, moms like me will have to turn to food pantries to feed our families. With its record profits, McDonald’s can choose to lift up all workers and the economy.”

While McDonald’s sales have soared in recent months, exceeding analysts’ expectations, and the fast-food giant’s stock hit a record high in May, the company’s low wages cost taxpayers an average of $1.2 billion every year in public assistance. This low-wage model drains revenue that could be used to support the country’s home care, child care and public education systems.

“Even though I educate and care for a classroom of three- and four-year-old children, I am paid just $8.40/hour, which means I have to choose which bills to put off so that I have enough cash for food,” said Shannon Mettie, a child care worker in Detroit, MI. “McDonald’s sets pay and standards at employers large and small. But as long as the fast-food giant keeps skimping on pay and dodging taxes, communities like mine won’t have the money we need for quality child care and strong schools.”

As McDonald’s faces louder calls from workers across the U.S. demanding higher pay and the right to a union, the company is also coming under fire from regulators and elected officials worldwide over a range of harmful business practices, including tax avoidance, labor violations, and anti-competitive practices.

In April, the French government sent a letter to McDonald’s demanding the company pay back €300 million ($340 million) in unpaid taxes and fines as a result of a scheme that funneled royalties through Luxembourg. Late last year the European Commission opened an investigation into McDonald’s over allegations the company avoided more than €1 billion in taxes via the same Luxembourg machinations.

Earlier this year, Spanish tax authorities opened a criminal investigation into McDonald’s tax avoidance, and leading consumer rights advocates and NGOs petitioned Italy’s top tax authorities late last year to investigate McDonald’s over allegations that the fast-food giant has dodged at least €74 million ($84 million) in taxes owed to Italy since 2009.

In January, Italian consumer groups filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging exorbitant rents and onerous contracts thrust upon franchisees give the company an unfair advantage. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom – the home of turf of CEO Steve Easterbrook – McDonald’s is facing more scrutiny than ever before. In April, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced his party’s support for a global campaign to hold McDonald’s accountable, saying, “We will extend that campaign all across this continent.” Also last month, Labour Party leaders barred McDonald’s from sponsoring its party’s convention because of the company’s unfair treatment of workers. Worker protests in the UK forced McDonald’s to abandon its controversial zero-hours scheduling policy in which workers are required to be available to work all the time, but receive no set hours.

In March, Brazilian prosecutors launched an investigation of alleged “fiscal and economic crimes” committed by McDonald’s, including suspected tax avoidance and violations of Brazil’s franchise and competition laws. As McDonald’s looks to sell or refranchise thousands of company-owned stores worldwide, the Change to Win Investment group sent a letter to McDonald’s Board of Directors earlier this month expressing concern over flagging sales and poor corporate governance by the company’s master franchisor in Latin America, Arcos Dorados.

“In France, like elsewhere, McJobs leave us without enough to feed our families or live with dignity,” said Lynda Zarif, a McDonald’s worker from Paris, France, who will join the protest in Oak Brook next week. “At the same time, McDonald’s and its shareholders are enriching themselves and benefiting from billions in profits. McDonald’s workers are the ones in the kitchen making the Big Macs that the company sells every day, and we deserve to benefit from the company’s success.”

Vast Differences Between Republicans And Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates On Raising The Minimum Wage

Republican Candidates For Governor Of New Hampshire, Reject Overwhelming Voter Support For Raising The Minimum Wage.

Whether or not to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues in this year’s Gubernatorial race. Large majorities of both, Republicans and Democrats, support raising the minimum wage. However as we have routinely seen in the New Hampshire Legislature, the elected representatives have made raising the minimum wage a completely partisan issue.

On Thursday, WMUR reported that all of the Republican candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, State Senator Jeanie Forrester and State Representative Frank Edelblut—oppose the establishment of a state minimum wage, despite the fact New Hampshire is tied for the lowest minimum wage in the country at $7.25-an-hour.

“State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said clearly during her economic rollout news conference on Monday that she opposes the establishment of a state minimum wage,” wrote John DiStaso.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas “does not believe in increasing the minimum wage nor establishing a state wage,” spokeswoman Alicia Preston told WMUR. Gatsas voted against raising the minimum wage when he was a State Senator in 2007.

State Representative Frank Edelblut “opposes raising the minimum wage and voted against establishing a state minimum wage in the current legislative session,” added DiStaso.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is attempting to play both sides.

“I oppose establishing a state minimum wage. I am open to a responsible increase in the federal minimum wage, provided there is a strong economic and moral case for it,” Sununu told WMUR.

Given the current political environment in Washington against raising the minimum wage, Sununu can safely say that he is “open” to an increase at the federal level knowing it will probably not happen anytime soon.

“The Republican candidates’ steadfast opposition to establishing a minimum wage highlights how vastly out-of-touch they are with New Hampshire’s working families,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Everyday Granite Staters are hurting, but Republicans continue to stick with the failed trickle-down economic policies of the past. It’s clear the GOP primary is deteriorating into a race to see who can run the farthest to the right, and they’re all tied.”

The Democratic candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, former State Securities Bureau Chief Mark Connolly and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand—all support establishing a state minimum wage.

“New Hampshire has the lowest minimum wage in the country. As governor, I’ll fight to establish a state minimum wage that rewards hard work and grows our economy,” said Executive Councilor, Colin Van Ostern.

“A full-time employee making the federal minimum wage earns just over $15,000 a year—it’s simply not enough. I strongly support establishing a state minimum wage in New Hampshire, because every Granite Stater deserves to be paid a fair, living wage for their hard work,” said Mark Connolly.

minimum wageAcross the board, 76% of Granite Staters surveyed supported raising the minimum wage. Even more astounding is that 59% of New Hampshire Republicans surveyed said they would support current proposals to raise the New Hampshire minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage is not a partisan issue nationally or here in New Hampshire. Nationally, 63% of those surveyed support a $15 minimum wage by 2020, and 71% support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage.

Research from the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute shows that just increasing the state’s Minimum Wage to $9 an hour would benefit over 76,000 people. That money would almost immediately be pushed right back into our local economies as low-wage workers spend almost everything they bring home in their paycheck.

“No matter who wins the primaries, voters will have a clear choice this November between a Republican who opposes raising the minimum wage and a Democrat who supports it,” Buckley added.

Leo W Gerard: Really, Really Rich Trump Is No Workers’ Champion

Trump Tower (m01229 FLIKR CC)

Trump Tower (m01229 FLIKR CC)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald  “I am really, really rich” Trump is, according to Forbes, the 121st richest person in America. So, yes, he is really, really rich.

He loves the perks of being really, really rich, like flying to campaign events in one of his own private jets, which means he blithely skips those annoying airport security lines that non-billionaires must endure. He enjoys kicking back in one ofhis five houses, including the 58-bedroom Mar-A-Lago mansion, where the$600,000 annual property taxes are three times the entire cost of an average American home. And, of course, Trump relishes the power he has to tell workers, “You’re fired.”

Born into wealth, Trump attended private schools and inherited $40 million when he was just 28 years old. He didn’t spend summers volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Appalachia. He didn’t take a gap year to put that fancy private school education to use tutoring inner city kids. So, frankly, it’s easy to understand why he opposes raising the minimum wage. This guy who was born with a really, really silver spoon in his mouth doesn’t have a clue what living on $7.25 an hour means.


Like all robber barons, Trump can’t spare a dime. He made that clear in the November Fox News debate. Trump said $7.25 is too much, too high a wage for the guy working two minimum-wage jobs to keep a roof over his widowed mother’s head or the single mother working 60 hours a week at two fast food joints to support her child.

Fox moderator Neil Cavuto asked Really Really Rich Trump if he was sympathetic to protesters demanding the minimum wage be raised.

“I can’t be,” Trump said.

“Taxes too high, wages too high,” Trump said later to explain his position that America couldn’t compete against other nations if U.S. workers are paid a living wage.

To put that in perspective, the annual income of a minimum-wage worker laboring full time for a year without a single sick day or vacation day is $15,080. That is $920 short of the $16,000 in annual fees required of members at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club in Florida.

But Trump thinks wages are too high. He has no idea what a $7.25-an-hour life is.

After the debate, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump went further, making it clear, that as a rich man, he didn’t care, either, that all workers’ wages had stagnated for years even as their productivity steadily rose.

No worker should get a raise, he told “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski.

“Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries,” the really, really rich man told Brzezinski.

The guy born to wealth and privilege said that the skilled electrician who is still paying off his trade school loans and who goes out in ice storms to repair lines for $58,000 a year is paid too much. The rich guy whose father handed him a $1 million loan to start his business says that the woman who scrimped and strived to be the first in her family to graduate from college and now works as an emergency room nurse saving lives makes too much at $68,000 a year.

Their wages are too high, Trump said. Gotta cut ‘em to compete with China. A race to the bottom is what Trump has in mind. For working people, that is. Not for really, really rich guys like him. They’re exempted, of course. Like they’re exempted from those annoying airport security lines.

Trump’s reasoning is the same as Mitt Romney’s. Remember Mitt “Corporations are people, my friend” Romney? The two rich guys have the same values. That is, they value corporations over people.

Trump explained shortly after the November debate that he intended to stiff the working poor because business was more important to him. He would stand strong against raising the minimum wage, he said, because “our country is losing business.”

Trump didn’t say that CEO million-dollar paychecks should be cut. He didn’t say the tens of billions handed out in Wall Street bonuses should be eliminated. No way. Those are the perks of his buddies, the rich guys he hangs out with at Mar-A-Lago. He specified only that the pay of poor people was too high.

All that big money at the top could actually be meaningful to minimum-wage workers. For example, in 2014, the $28.5 billion in bonuses handed out on Wall Street was twice the annual pay for the 1 million Americans who worked full-time at the $7.25 minimum wage.

The 167,800 Wall Streeters who grabbed those billions actually did pretty crappy work too. Wall Street profits declined 4.5 percent. That’s the kind of job that would get a minimum-wage worker fired, not rewarded.

So when the rich like Trump do badly, they get more money. When low-wage workers faithfully perform their jobs, Trump says, “Give them less money!”

Now that the really, really rich guy is the presumptive nominee, however, he’s double-talking. On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” he told Chuck Todd that he’s become sympathetic to minimum wage workers, but he’s not going to do anything about their plight. Here is what he said:

“I have seen what’s going on. And I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

So, ok, it’s hard. Some minimum wage workers are homeless. They work, butsleep on the street. Virtually all survive only with the help of taxpayer-funded public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing. So they’re the victims of scorn, despite laboring full-time.

Maybe it’s not right. But a President Donald Trump is not going to lift a finger to help minimum wage workers. If workers happen to live in a state that wants to let corporations exploit employees, a President Trump wouldn’t intervene to save workers’ day.

This is a really, really rich guy completely oblivious to the anxieties of American families – including the ultimate nightmare of a boss shouting, “You’re fired!” This is a guy who told a reporter that no one has done as much for equality as he has because he opened his Mar-A-Lago Club to everyone – a club requiring a $100,000 initiation fee – a fee nearly twice the average annual earnings of an American worker.

This is not a man of the people. This is no working man’s champion. Just like Mitt, this is a really, really rich guy for rich guys.

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