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ICYMI: The NH Union Leader Profiles A Low Wage, Fast Food Worker’s Struggles

Here at the NH Labor News we have spoken at great length about the need to raise the minimum wage, in New Hampshire and throughout the United States.  For millions of Americans living in poverty while working 40-50-60 hours a week is their harsh reality.  No matter what they do they cannot seem to get ahead.

This weekend, Mark Hayward, a long time reporter for the NH Union Leader did a feature on Amber Carlow. Carlow is 24 and works full time at Wendy’s in Nashua.

Whether you support a $12 an hour minimum wage or a $15 an hour minimum wage, this article shows exactly how real people are suffering from our government failing to raise the minimum wage.

Below are a few selected quotes from the article and I encourage you to read it all.

“It’s horrible. I work 10-hour shifts. I walk to and from work. I have to worry about paying rent. I’m constantly stressed out. I can’t sleep at night,” [Carlow] said. 

According to the most recent Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages put out by state employment officials, more Granite State workers — 50,600 — find themselves in the “food and drinking places” job category than any other.

It is nearly the lowest paid in the state, fetching an average weekly wage of $365. Gas station workers make about $25 more a week.

…She attended a Job Corps program in Vermont, where she earned her driver’s license and GED. She took auto mechanics, but she became pregnant, left Job Corps and started working in fast food. 

Her son’s father is out of the picture but makes sporadic payments, Carlow said.

Her son lives with Carlow’s mother in Londonderry; Carlow said she can’t afford child care and her apartment is too small for a child. She devotes what free time she can to visits, either in Londonderry or Nashua. 

This winter, her boyfriend lost his job as a framer. His car was repossessed. The $400 Carlow had saved up went toward her $820 monthly rent, and they turned to Nashua city welfare for help.

They kept the apartment around 60 degrees and pawned their flat-screen TV. She’s applied for food stamps, but hasn’t received them. The only other government help she gets is state Medicaid.

Most days, her meals entail boxed macaroni and cheese, Hot Pockets frozen food and Wendy’s meals, which she can buy for half price. 

Not one teenager works at the East Hollis Street Wendy’s, and at least 10 of the employees are parents, she said. 

Carlow would love to go to school and train for a better paying job….“Between what I need to do to survive, I don’t have time to get this training,” she said.

Read the full article from the Union Leader here.

Worldwide Protests And Strikes In #FightFor15 Scheduled For April 14th

On Eve of Tax Day, Underpaid Workers to Wage Biggest-Ever Global Strikes, Protests as Fight for $15 Turns up Heat

From AFGE in 2015

From AFGE in 2015 

Protests Planned in Record 300 U.S. Cities, 40 Countries, on Six Continents

Fast-Food, Home Care, Child Care, Higher Ed, Manufacturing Workers to Protest Against Low Pay, Tax Avoidance by Companies

Workers Across the Service Economy Zero in on McDonald’s Role in Undercutting Pay for Everyone

Momentum Builds off $15 wins in CA, PA, Showing Power of Workers Organizing 

WORLDWIDE – Days after millions of workers in California and thousands in Pennsylvania won historic pay increases to $15/hr and amidst ongoing negotiations for $15/hr for millions more in New York, the unstoppable momentum for $15 and union rights continued to build as underpaid workers across the globe said they would wage the biggest-ever day of strikes and protests on April 14.

Fast-food workers will go on strike in a record 300 cities and tens of thousands of underpaid workers—including home care, child care and higher education workers—will lead hundreds of protests from Manchester, NH to Memphis, Tenn. to Marina Del Rey, Calif. Around the world, workers will join in, with protests expected in more than 40 countries on six continents. 

Who’s the Real Problem?

American families are being forced to scrape by because big corporations are ripping off workers, ripping off taxpayers, and ripping off communities. To get richer and richer, big corporations manipulate the rules to avoid paying fair wages and their fair share of taxes, forcing working people and taxpayers to foot the bill. As a result, workers and communities are being starved of the money needed to build a bright future, and left with impossible choices over how to care for their children and elderly parents and how to meet their basic expenses.  

The workers’ protests, timed to hit just before Tax Day, will zero in on McDonald’s, highlighting how the world’s second-largest employer and the industry leader in the fast food and service economies is driving a race to the bottom that is undercutting wages across the economy and resulting in nearly 64 million workers being paid less than $15. The workers will also highlight how McDonald’s tax avoidance around the globe hurts governments, workers, taxpayers and consumers. 

“McJobs cost us all,” said Brenda Lozada, a home care worker from Aurora, Colo. who is paid just $11/hr after 12 years on the job. “McDonald’s is holding everyone back, not just fast-food workers. The company influences pay, how people are treated at work and how people run businesses, both large and small. The Fight for $15 isn’t just about fast-food workers getting higher pay. It’s about workers in every industry, all over the world being held back because of McDonald’s desire to make bigger profits.” 

Fast-food, home care, child care, university, airport, retail, building service and other workers will demand McDonald’s change its business model and use its massive economic power to lift up working families across the globe instead of dragging them down. 

“There are undocumented immigrant mothers in my city who work hard and pay taxes, but McDonald’s, America’s second-largest employer, does not pay its fair share,” said Rolanda McMillan, who has worked at McDonald’s in Richmond, Va. for four years. “McDonald’s cheats its workers, pays the bare minimum and dodges taxes despite making billions in profits and paying out millions to top executives. Meanwhile, workers can’t afford child care for our kids and grandkids. That’s just wrong.” 

The announcement comes as workers fighting for $15 and union rights prepare to go on strikeWednesday night and Thursday at eight airports across the country and as fast-food workers in Chicago calling for $15 and union rights prepare to walk off their jobs Friday. The Chicago workers will join with striking teachers to highlight how low pay forces fast-food workers’ to rely on food stamps and other public assistance programs—money that could be spent on schools. Members of the California Faculty Association who are demanding a 5% raise are also expected to be on strike April 14—on all 23 campuses of the state university system— in what would be the largest higher education strike in U.S. history. 

“Fast-food workers may have started this movement, but now the Fight for $15 is for everyone because it’s about a living wage for all,” said Michael O’Bryan, an adjunct at Washington University in St. Louis. “Our momentum is unstoppable. Our movement proves that when workers in all industries come together and speak out, we produce real change.” 

The Choices We Face

Because of the wage and tax schemes of greedy corporations like McDonald’s, workers, consumers and taxpayers face a series of impossible choices. American workers aren’t paid enough to afford child care and we don’t have the public resources we need to fund quality child care programs; people who provide critical home care and nursing home care for seniors and persons with disabilities can’t afford to take care of themselves, and we can’t provide access to quality long-term care for the growing number of Americans who need it; and adjunct professors and other faculty who educate our young people at public universities can barely make ends meet, while the schools themselves are starved for funding, putting higher education out of reach for too many people. 

Workers chose April 14 – the day before Tax Day – to emphasize that McDonald’s low wages force more than half the company’s workers to rely on public assistance, costing U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion every year. In addition, the company’s manipulation of loopholes and offshore schemes to avoid taxes means there is less money for child care, health care and public universities.

Industrywide, low pay forces more than half of fast-food workers to rely on public assistance to support their families, costing taxpayers $7 billion a year. And across the economy, nearly three-quarters of people aided by public assistance are members of a family headed by a worker, costing taxpayers more than $150 billion.  

“McDonald’s matters to everyone, because it hurts just about everyone,” said Kimmie DeVries, a child care worker from Kansas City, Mo. “Its influence is huge, but instead of using its global scale to support good jobs and lift pay, McDonald’s uses its enormous footprint for just the opposite. When McDonald’s pays workers as little as it possibly can, it pushes wages down throughout the service sector, making it impossible for workers across the economy to get ahead.” 

The effects of low pay reach deep. Earlier this month, Burger King worker and Fight for $15 member Jeffrey Pendleton was found dead in a New Hampshire jail cell. He had been arrested on a minor marijuana possession charge, and was held because he could not afford $100 bail. In USA Today, his co-worker Andy Fontaine wrote, “We may not yet know the cause of death, but we do know this: Jeffrey might be alive if he had been able to afford justice in our society. And his death tragically illustrates that the lives of black men caught up in our criminal justice system matter far less than they should.”

The Fight for $15 is dedicating the April 14strike to Pendleton, a vocal proponent for higher pay and union rights, who participated in the first-ever fast-food strike in New Hampshire last month.

Workers in California, Pennsylvania Win Historic Raises; New York Could be Next

The April 14 strike comes on the heels of an unprecedented series of pay increases this week, with workers in California winning $15/hr and the largest employer in Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, announcing it will pay workers $15/hr. Negotiations around $15 in New York are ongoing.  

With wins piling up across the country, the Fight for $15 is building a growing awareness that $15/hr is the minimum wage level American workers in every part of the country need to survive and pay for the necessities to support their families. And the workers in the Fight for $15 are demonstrating the power of coming together in an organization to fight for higher pay. 

“There has never been a stronger case for why workers need an organization to help them improve their lives,” said Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry. “Millions of people are being lifted out of poverty because workers joined together and acted like a union.”

Cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have raised their minimum wage to $15/hr. And home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon won $15/hr statewide minimum wages. Companies including Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, and Nationwide Insurance have raised pay to $15/hr or higher; and workers in nursing homes, public schools and hospitals have won $15/hr via collective bargaining.

The Democratic Party adopted a $15/hr platform, the Democratic candidates for president have lined up in support of the workers in the Fight for $15, and elected leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Kristen Gillibrand back a $15/hr federal minimum wage. It’s a far cry from the situation when the campaign started—when discourse on the economy was limited to talk of debt and deficits and two lone Democrats in Congress (former Sen. Tom Harkin and former U.S. Rep. George Miller) were the only ones brave enough to even call for $10.10/hr. 

Slate wrote that the Fight for $15 has completely “rewired how the public and politicians think about wages; the New York Times declared that “$15 could become the new, de facto $7.25;” and the Washington Post said that $15/hr has “gone from almost absurdly ambitious to mainstream in the span of a few years.”

It all started on Nov. 29, 2012, when 200 New York City McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs, demanding $15/hr and union rights, in what theNew York Times called, “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of the fast-food industry.” Few gave the workers a chance, but their calls for higher pay caught on and spread across the country. Within months, workers walked off their jobs in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee, sowing the seeds of a national movement that would eventually spread beyond fast food to workers in home care, child care, higher education and other industries. 

McDonald’s Under Fire on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The movement is also gaining momentum overseas, as workers across the globe are increasingly joining together to hold McDonald’s accountable. Workers in 40 countries on six continents are expected to protest at McDonald’s restaurants on April 14, with marches in cities ranging from Sao Paolo to Seoul and London to Lagos. 

The global protests come as McDonald’s is facing scrutiny by federal regulators from South America to Europe. Late last year, the European Commission opened an investigation into McDonald’s following allegations by trade unions and NGOs that the company has dodged more than one billion euros in taxes 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.

In March, Brazilian prosecutors said they were investigating alleged “fiscal and economic crimes” committed by McDonald’s, including suspected tax avoidance and violations of Brazil’s franchise and competition laws. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the federal governmentcontinues to prosecute its case against the company for violating federal labor laws, charging both McDonald’s and its franchisees with illegally threatening, intimidating, firing and otherwise retaliating against workers who had joined together in the Fight for $15.

Changing the Debate 

The strike also comes as workers have made $15 and union rights a hot button political issue in the race for the White House. Everywhere candidates go this primary season, workers in the Fight for $15 have followed closely behind, forcing White House hopefuls to address the demands of the nearly 64 million Americans paid less than $15/hr.

Ahead of debates in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, Miami, Houston, and Charleston, fast-food workers went on strike for $15 and union rights and marched on the debates, calling on candidates to “come get our vote.” The massive protests forced candidates on both sides of the aisle to address workers’ growing calls for higher pay and union rights. On four occasions in the debates, candidates were pressed by moderators to respond to workers in the Fight for $15, including in November, when the first question directed at GOP candidates asked them to respond to the demands of fast-food workers outside the Milwaukee Theatre demanding $15/hr and union rights. 

The New York Times and USA Today both warned candidates who ignore the growing movement that they do so “at their own peril.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press said underpaid workers are flexing, “increasingly potent political muscle,” and that they have “made low wages a hot political issue; and BuzzFeed said they “could make up a powerful new voting bloc.”

A recent poll of workers paid less than $15/hour commissioned by the National Employment Law Project showed that 69% of unregistered voters would register to vote if there were a candidate who supported $15/hour and a union; and that 65% of registered voters paid less than $15/hour would be more likely to vote if there were a candidate who supported $15/hour and a union. That’s 48 million potential voters paid less than $15 who could turn out if there were candidates who backed higher pay and union rights.

National Advocacy Groups Call For An End Of The Tipped Minimum Wage

On 25th Anniversary of Last Tipped Minimum Wage Increase, Prominent National Advocacy and Research Groups Call for Nation to Adopt One Fair Wage for All Workers

One Fair Wage logoWashington, D.C. – This Friday, April 1st marks 25 years since the last change in the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which was increased from just $2.09 to $2.13 per hour in 1991. This two-tiered system of a separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers has left nearly 4.5 million workers across the country struggling to survive on poverty wages. Two-thirds of tipped workers are women, and of the restaurant workers who make up more than half of the tipped workforce about 70 percent are women.

To mark a quarter century that tipped workers have been paid a base wage as low as $2.13 an hour, a growing number of national organizations are calling for the complete elimination of the subminimum wage for tipped workers in favor of paying one fair minimum wage to all working people.  There are currently seven states where tipped workers receive the regular minimum wage. In these states, restaurant job growth is stronger and poverty rates among tipped workers are dramatically lower, than in states where tipped workers are paid $2.13 – demonstrating that one fair wage is good for both our economy and our families.

This anniversary is especially timely as the minimum wage is being debated in cities and states across the country.  D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently called for an increase in the citywide minimum wage to $15 by 2020, but remained silent on the inclusion of tipped workers who currently earn just $2.77 an hour in the District. Meanwhile, lawmakers in California, which has done away with the subminimum wage for tipped workers, earlier this week announced a deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“$2.13 an hour isn’t enough for a single person to survive on, much less a family. That’s what we’re talking about here: a majority of tipped workers are women, and many are the heads of their households,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “Without a stable base wage to depend on, these women can be forced to choose between child care and medical care, because while their income fluctuates their bills don’t. Even worse, tipped workers in states that pay as low as $2.13 an hour experience sexual harassment at twice the rate of their counterparts in states where there’s one fair minimum wage for all workers.” 

“Twenty-five-year anniversaries are normally joyous, but the fact that the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for the last 25 years is a national disgrace. Workers across a range of industries and occupations as diverse as restaurant servers, airport wheelchair attendants, and barbers and stylists perform work that is exacting and often strenuous, and compensated largely through tips. That’s unfair to workers and customers alike: tipped workers deserve a fair wage, with a floor on par with employees in other industries. And customers shouldn’t be stuck paying employees’ wages when it’s the employer’s responsibility,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project. “In seven states, tipped workers must be paid at least the full minimum wage as their base pay. These states have thriving economies and rising employment. It’s time for the nation to follow their lead: eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, and pay one fair minimum wage to all workers.”

“The tipped wage is a legacy of slavery whose ugly origins are rooted in a time when American employers didn’t want to pay newly freed African Americans a proper wage,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Today, our paltry, subminimum tipped wage of $2.13 an hour has institutionalized an unequal, two-tiered wage gap that keeps millions of working Americans trapped in poverty and disproportionately harms working people of color and their families. This is unacceptable anywhere, but it’s unconscionable in a country that prides itself on being a land of opportunity.”

“No wonder there’s a wage gap—and no wonder so many of the workers who serve our food can barely afford food themselves,” said Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program at the National Women’s Law Center. “At just $2.13 an hour, the shamefully low federal tipped minimum cash wage leaves tipped workers with no stable income to depend on when their tips vary from week to week. And most of the workers who rely on tips to support themselves and their families are women, disproportionately women of color. But in the states that already have one minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped workers alike, the average poverty rate among women tipped workers is 33 percent lower—and the average wage gap is 14 percent smaller—than in states with a $2.13 tipped minimum wage. Women and families across the country deserve one fair minimum wage.”

“Paying women and all workers fairly and well enough to keep food on the table and their families out of poverty is essential to our nation’s well-being,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Women in the United States today head more than 15 million households and are breadwinners in most families, yet they also make up the majority of tipped workers who often suffer from low wages and have no paid sick days, paid family or medical leave, or access to other family friendly policies. Eliminating the grossly outdated tipped minimum wage, raising the federal minimum wage and making paid leave available to all workers should be top priorities for every lawmaker who supports strengthening families and our economy.”

“Tipped work is one of the fastest-growing occupations and one of the lowest-paid, especially for women and for workers of color,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs. “Increasing the federal minimum wage for tipped workers would lift 700,000 people out of poverty, and over half of these individuals would be workers of color. In addition, more than $12 billion would be pumped into our economy because of workers’ having more spending power, leading to more jobs and more economic growth. Doing right by these workers isn’t just good for the workers – it’s good for the economy.”

The tipped minimum wage has not only failed to increase along with national wages, it has been artificially suppressed by the extensive lobbying efforts of the National Restaurant Association, whose then-President Herman Cain struck a deal in 1996 to freeze the rate at the current $2.13 per hour, maintaining the restaurant industry’s status as the absolute lowest paying in the nation. 

List of supporting organizations:

Center for Community Change

Coalition on Human Needs


Food Chain Workers Alliance

Food Shift

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


National Employment Law Project

National Family Farm Coalition

National Jobs for All Coalition

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women’s Law Center

Progressive Congress

Public Citizen

Real Food Media

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Slow Food USA

Small Planet Institute

Transport Workers Union, Local 100

United Methodist Women

Voices for Progress

Women’s Media Center

Working Families Party

Note: partial list of signing organizations — see full list at: http://rocunited.org/news/roc-press-releases/

The Ayotte-Trump Agenda: Criminalizing Abortion Edition

Ayotte-Trump Agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday Donald Trump announced that women in this country should be “punished” if they get an abortion — before recanting, using the same language anti-choice groups have been using for years to whitewash their true agenda, which is taking away a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions and control her own body. But the truth is that Donald Trump’s comments only pulled back the curtain on what the GOP has already been doing for years: punishing women through draconian laws and restrictions on their right to have an abortion. Republicans can try to spin that reality any way they want, but they can’t deny the truth. Punishing women is and always has been the point of their extreme policies. Despite all of this, vulnerable Republican Kelly Ayotte still refuses to denounce Trump or say she won’t support him as the Republican nominee putting the extreme anti-woman agenda they both share into the spotlight.

“Donald Trump is leading the GOP charge to prevent women from making their own health care decisions,” said EMILY’s List Communications Director Marcy Stech. “First Ayotte and Trump supported an unconstitutional abortion ban that would criminalize doctors, and now she’s standing by the Republican frontrunner who said he wants to ‘punish’ women who get abortions. Elections matter, and Kelly Ayotte is linking arms with Donald Trump at the expense of New Hampshire women and families.” 

The Ayotte-Trump Agenda

Both Trump and Ayotte Supported An Abortion Ban. Trump supported a national abortion ban and said pro-choice policies “goes against our core values.” In September 2015, Ayotte voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that “would have banned abortion nationwide after 20 weeks ‘post-fertilization,’ or about 22 weeks’ gestation […] Opponents of HR 36 attacked the bill on the grounds that it is unconstitutional; violates the rights of women in desperate situations, including rape and incest victims; and threatens doctors with criminal penalties for trying to do what’s best for their patients […] Opponents of HR 36 attacked the bill on the grounds that it is unconstitutional; violates the rights of women in desperate situations, including rape and incest victims; and threatens doctors with criminal penalties for trying to do what’s best for their patients […] Under the GOP-backed bill, rape and incest victims would have to further delay abortion care by seeking counseling from doctors who do not perform abortions, or who do not even share an office with a doctor who does. Incest victims under the age of 18 would also have to file a police report.” The bill failed in the Senate 54-42 with 51 GOP voting for it. [HR 36, Vote #268, 9/22/15; RH Reality Check, 9/22/15; CBN News, 7/22/15]

Both Trump and Ayotte Opposed Raising the Minimum Wage. During the fourth Republican presidential debate, Trump insisted that wages were “too high,” and he was opposed to raising the minimum wage. In 2014 and 2015 Ayotte voted against increasing the federal minimum wage. [New York Times, 11/11/15; S. 2223, Vote 117, 4/30/14; S.Con.Res.11, Vote 93, 3/26/15]

Both Trump and Ayotte Would Deny Women Equal Pay At an October 2015 convention in New Hampshire, Trump said of equal pay, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Ayotte has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act four times. In June 2012, Ayotte voted against a procedural vote to move forward with S. 3220, Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (also known as the Equal Pay Act), “to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.” The Paycheck Fairness Act would require a clarification in reasons for differences in wages paid to men and women doing the same work. The motion was rejected 52-47. In April 2014, Ayotte voted against a motion to address the Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Congressional Quarterly the vote was a “Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to the bill that would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women with similar qualifications and in similar jobs have a business justification. It would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information and authorize the Labor secretary to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action. The bill also would require the Labor Department to provide training and collect wage information.” The motion was rejected by a vote of 53-44. In September 2014, Ayotte voted against a bill to strengthen federal equal pay laws for women. In March 2015, Ayotte voted against Senator Mikulski’s proposal to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to amending the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to allow for punitive damages, limit the any factor ‘other than sex’ exception, and prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information.” The amendment failed 45-54. [S. 3220Vote #115, 6/05/12; S 2199Vote #103, 4/09/14; S. 2199, Vote #262, 9/15/14; S. Con. Res. 11, Vote #82, 3/24/15]

New Report From UC Berkeley Says Minimum Wage Increase Will Boost 5 Million Workers

Coffee Barista Malcom (STEN Flicker)

If the California Legislature approves a $15 an hour minimum wage, the UC Berkeley’s Labor Center estimates workers would see an average boost in pay of $2.19 an hour. (Image by Sten on FLICKR)


Berkeley — A proposed gradual increase in California’s minimum hourly wage from $10 to $15 by 2023 would raise wages of 5.6 million workers by an average of 24 percent, according to a brief released today by the University of California, Berkeley.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced a deal Monday between union and state legislative leaders to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2022, for businesses with more than 25 workers and by Jan. 1, 2023, for smaller businesses.

Researchers from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education created a profile of workers who would benefit from the minimum wage legislation. Among their key findings:

  • Some 96 percent of affected workers are in their 20s or older, and nearly three-quarters of the workers who will receive raises are in their 30s or older. Of all impacted workers, 37 percent are parents.
  • On average, the workers’ wages account for half of their family income.
  • An estimated 55 percent of affected workers are Latino, compared to 38 percent for the workforce as a whole.
  • Retail workers account for 16 percent of affected workers and restaurant employees 15 percent.

Local minimum wage laws already in place will also generate pay increases for an additional 800,000 California workers. Together with the new proposal, 37 percent of the California workforce will receive higher wages.

“Based on our previous research, we expect the proposed law to have large positive effects on living standards for a large number of California workers and very small effects on employment,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center.

The deal needs to be approved by the state Legislature.

The brief was authored by Jacobs and Ian Perry, a Labor Center researcher.

Read the full report

N.C. Anti-Gay Law Suppresses Wages for all Workers, Union Leader Says

Bill prohibits localities from increasing minimum wage above federal, state minimum

WASHINGTON – The North Carolina law striking down anti-discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals also blocks cities and towns from increasing wages for the state’s lowest-paid workers, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“This is an undemocratic bill that not only discriminates against members of the LGBT community but suppresses wages for working class people who are struggling to make ends meet on $7.25 an hour,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr., who is a native of North Carolina.

 “The state legislators who passed this shameful bill are tying the hands of locally elected leaders and denying them the ability to pass laws that improve the lives of their own citizens. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. Alabama’s state leaders recently enacted their own bill that prevents cities from increasing the minimum wage above the federal floor of $7.25 an hour.

“If lawmakers in Charlotte believe that the state’s anti-discrimination laws don’t go far enough to protect their residents, they should be allowed to enhance those protections. If local officials in Birmingham want to raise the minimum wage so entry-level workers can afford to live there, they should be allowed to do that.

“Inaction at the state level is bad enough, but preventing local leaders from taking action on their own is undemocratic and un-American.”

A Significant Percentage Of NH Jobs Do Not Pay Enough To Meet A “Basic Family Budget” Threshold

New Report Examines Cost of Making Ends Meet in the  Granite State, Finds Many Jobs Lack Pay Sufficient to Achieve Economic Stability

NHFPI logo -Color-with-TagCONCORD, NH – New Hampshire’s official poverty rate of 9.2 percent was the lowest in the nation in 2014, but a new analysis underscores the failure of official poverty measures to present an accurate picture of the numbers of people struggling to make ends meet. The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today released a new research paper, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, which examines the shortcomings of the traditional poverty measures and offers a more comprehensive method of assessing what it takes to get by in the Granite State.

“The official poverty rate stands at odds with the economic anxiety many Granite State families continue to experience,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Traditional measures fail to account for New Hampshire’s high cost of living, which leaves even greater numbers of working families struggling to pay for necessities and puts financial stability far out of reach.” 

In Taking the Measure of Need, NHFPI examines the level of income necessary to secure basic necessities using the Basic Family Budget concept developed by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank. The Basic Family Budget approach accounts for regional price differences and attempts to assess the true cost of achieving a modest standard of living. This method reflects costs for housing, food, transportation, healthcare, child care (if applicable), taxes, and other necessities, such as clothing, in a particular area for various family types. 

The cost of living in Manchester illustrates the stark difference between the federal poverty measure and actual cost for basic needs. The official federal poverty threshold for a two adult, one child family is $19,055. Under the Basic Family Budget approach, the same family living in Manchester would need an income of $62,684 to afford a modest standard of living, a number that is more than three times the official poverty threshold. In fact, EPI’s Basic Family Budget assessment finds Manchester ranks among the most expensive places to live in the country. 

NHFPI’s research also finds that a sizeable percentage of jobs fail to pay enough for many families to achieve a modest standard of living in the Granite State.

“New Hampshire’s low unemployment rate obscures the fact that many of the jobs that are available do not pay the level of wages required for families to make ends meet,” said Jeff McLynch. “This mismatch leaves many working families with difficult choices, deciding whether to put food on the table or pay the rent, one car repair away from financial disaster. They work tirelessly each day, but remain unable to meet their most immediate needs, much less achieve their longer-term financial goals – saving for retirement, sending their kids to college, or purchasing their own home.” 

Preliminary NHFPI estimates suggest that a substantial share of jobs in the state do not pay enough for families to afford to make ends meet. Based on New Hampshire Office of Employment Security wage data, roughly 64 percent of occupations in New Hampshire likely pay enough for a single person to afford their Basic Family Budget, while only about 56 percent pay enough for a two-worker family of four to do so. More importantly, only 30 percent of occupations pay enough for a single parent with one child to afford a modest standard of living.

Learn more in NHFPI’s paper, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, available online at:  http://www.nhfpi.org/research/state-economy/taking-the-measure-of-need-granite-state.html 

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at  www.nhfpi.org. 

In New York, Clinton Calls To Eliminate The Tipped Minimum Wage

 (image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

(image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

ROC United continues efforts to completely eliminate
the tipped minimum wage in New York.

This week, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, spoke to a capacity crowd at the Javits Center in New York, about increasing the minimum wage and ending the sub-minimum or tipped minimum wage.

DNAInfo New York was one of the first to report the news:

“Clinton, who has advocated for raising the federal minimum wage to $12, praised Cuomo’s fight to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and called out America as the ‘only industrialized country in the world that requires tipped workers to take home their income in tips, instead of wages.’”

Clinton has previously (2014) voiced her opposition to the tipped minimum wage calling it “deeply unfair.”

“In some parts of our country are jobs, like hairdressers or waitresses, where the minimum wage is $2.13 an hour. Because it is assumed they’re gonna make all this money on tips. There is a deep unfairness about that. And we need to make sure the minimum wage is raised so that working women and men have a chance not only to increase their income, but that means more consumers for New York businesses.”

Throughout the labor community this is more commonly known as the One Fair Wage initiative to end the tipped minimum wage and simultaneously increase the minimum wage.

The Restaurant Opportunity Centers United (ROC United) have been pushing candidates and elected leaders alike to support the One Fair Wage campaign. ROC United has been very vocal in the push to raise the New York to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“Today’s announcement from the New York wage board calling for a $15 minimum wage for New York’s fast-food workers is a crucial step forward in the fight for fair pay and a major indictment of the inadequacy of wages throughout the restaurant industry,” said Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director of ROC United, in July of 2015. “Governor Cuomo and the New York Wage Board’s leadership in responding to the outcry of restaurant workers across the country should serve as an example of the bold action that elected officials can and should take to prioritize the needs of the families they represent.”

However Governor Cuomo failed to include tipped workers in his call to increase the minimum wage.

Today, as Secretary Clinton affirmed her support for eliminating the tipped minimum wage, with Gov. Cuomo in the audience, Saru Jayaraman again called on Gov. Cuomo and the NY State Legislature to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.

“The tipped minimum wage is a destructive, archaic relic of the past that forces restaurant workers — largely women and people of color — to battle disproportionate rates of financial insecurity, poverty, discrimination, and sexual harassment,” stated Jayaraman. “Nearly 70% of tipped restaurant workers are women, 40% of whom are mothers, working in casual dining establishments, and barely able to make ends meet.”

“Governor Cuomo’s wage plan is a good start, but it is not enough. We implore New York’s legislature to not leave behind New York’s 270,000+ tipped workers. It’s time to eliminate the unjust, two-tiered wage system, and establish one fair wage for all New Yorkers,” concluded Jayaraman.

Not only would eliminating the tipped minimum wage help the 270,000 workers in New York but millions of low wage workers throughout the country.

Nationally tipped workers earn of average $9.13 per hour (including tips). Hourly these workers meet the state’s minimum wage requirements but because many of these workers are not given full time employment, tipped workers average just less than $15,000 a year.

Many of these workers are women, specifically women of color, face constant harassment from employers and customers. According to a national survey 66% reported sexual harassment from restaurant management and 78% from customers. These tipped workers are afraid to speak out against their employer because if they do management will move them to less desirable shifts, essentially docking their pay. If they speak out against a customer then the customer will not leave any tip, again resulting in lost wages. It is a lose-lose situation.

Guaranteeing that workers have a steady, livable wage that does not rely on tips will empower workers to speak out against harassment and the other issues that plague the restaurant industry.

“Gig” Or “On-Demand” Workers Should Be Considers Employees Under The Law

AFL-CIO Asserts that Gig Economy Workers Are Employees

Read Gig Economy Council Statement Here


One example of the “gig” economy workers are those who drive for UBER

(Washington, DC) –The AFL-CIO Executive Council affirmed that working people in the gig economy share a single common designation: employees.

The Council further affirmed that working people deserve the full benefits that come with that status. On-demand economy companies are increasingly leaving workers without the full rights and protections of regular employees. 

Innovation and technological progress have bolstered productivity, yet too many working people have not reaped the benefits of their labor. In a statement passed by the council labor leaders noted that:

“Making the right policy choices begins with ensuring people who work for on-demand companies enjoy the rights and protections of employees.  Under current law, only workers who are defined as ‘employees’ are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and enjoy minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and family and medical leave.”

“Unions have long been fighting back against employers who misclassify working people and create precarious, vulnerable work. This is what we do.  The AFL-CIO is committed to ensuring new technology – and new forms of employer manipulation – do not erode the rights of working people. Rest assured that if employers get away with pretending their workers aren’t employees, your job could be next.”

For decades, precarious and vulnerable work – such as part-time and temporary work with few benefits – have been the reality for a significant part of the workforce, especially for people of color, women and immigrants. The council is calling on companies to accept their responsibilities as employers and provide jobs that pay enough for working people to sustain themselves and their families.

“The AFL-CIO is committed to working with our allies, businesses and community partners to enact policies that will prevent gig economy workers from falling through the cracks,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “If we act now, we can build a future of work that promises working people a better life.”

To read the complete statement, click here.

Making Ends Meet Conference Explores Solutions to Enhance Economic Stability for New Hampshire Families

nhfpi-budget-policy-conference-illoCONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today convened Making Ends Meet: Enhancing Economic Security, Fostering Shared Prosperity to examine a range of policy solutions that can help to ease the struggles New Hampshire’s working families face.

“New Hampshire has one of the higher costs of living in the nation, leaving many working families to face a substantial gap between what they earn and what they must spend on essentials — from housing and groceries to health care and child care,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “New Hampshire should pursue a comprehensive strategy that addresses both sides of the equation, boosting stagnant incomes and bringing the cost of basic necessities within closer reach.”

The event opened with a review of basic family budgets for New Hampshire, presented by David Cooper, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute.

“For most regions of New Hampshire, costs for housing and child care alone exceed what many low wage workers bring in,” said David Cooper. “In Concord, a single parent with one child faces costs that are more than twice what they would earn working full time at $10 an hour, forcing untenable choices between food, rent, heat, and basic necessities.” 

The first panel discussion examined low wages and workplace policies that make it difficult to care for family needs. Panelists outlined an array of strategies that can boost wages and incomes, from increasing the minimum wage and ensuring access to paid leave to creating an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increasing financial assets. Panelists included Holden Weisman, state and local policy manager, CFED; Ben Zipperer, research economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; and Jeffrey Hayes, program director, job security and income quality, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

A second panel of state and national policy experts examined New Hampshire’s high cost of housing, child care, and health care and discussed policy changes that can make these basic necessities more affordable. Panelists included Helen Blank, director, child care and early learning, National Women’s Law Center; Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Elissa Margolin, director, Housing Action New Hampshire.

“Access to affordable health care is essential for families to achieve economic stability,” said Judith Solomon. “The reauthorization of New Hampshire’s Health Protection Program would ensure individuals have the ability to address health concerns before they become serious conditions and increase the chances that they can remain in the workforce.” 

The event concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Katherine S. Newman, provost of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a distinguished author, researcher, and lecturer who has dedicated much of her career to the study of poverty, inequality, and economic opportunity in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Newman is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America and Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.

“For far too many families across this country, the economic downturn accelerated the steady erosion of their economic security and sent them into a downward spiral toward poverty,” said Dr. Newman. “There is no single solution to reverse this trend. We should take a systems approach to addressing their challenges, so that working families have the ability to provide a solid foundation for their children and increase their access to economic opportunity.” 

The event’s nearly 140 attendees, which included New Hampshire legislators, business owners, nonprofit and community leaders, and concerned citizens, were provided with an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the numerous financial challenges facing low-wage earners and policy changes that can enhance their economic stability.

NHFPI’s third annual policy conference, Making Ends Meet was made possible with the support of presenting sponsor National Education Association-NH (NEA-NH), supporting sponsor Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and the following partner organizations: Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, New Futures, Full Circle Consulting, and Kieschnick Consulting Services. 

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

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