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Raising The Minimum Wage Helps Seniors And Boosts The Social Security Trust Fund

Alliance For Retired Americans

Testimony On Raising The Minimum Wage From Lucy Edwards, President of the NH Alliance For Retired Americans

The following statement was e-mailed to the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee for the hearing on the minimum wage bills.

While retirement security may not be the first thing that you consider when you think about the minimum wage, it should be part of your decision making. New Hampshire is an old state, and getting older, and the health of our economy depends on the economic security of all our citizens. We retirees have a long experience with the working world, and none of us has seen a business succeed, no matter how great their product or service, without enough customers with money to spend. Demand is the main driver of successful business.

So how does the level of the minimum wage in New Hampshire affect retirees?

First: Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings.

Second: the ability to save for retirement outside of Social Security depends on earnings as well.

Third: the minimum wage is NOT only the wage paid to teenagers on their first jobs. Many adults work one, or two or three of these jobs, attempting to support their families. FICA taxes are taken out of minimum wage jobs too! But if these jobs are the only ones that are available to too many of our citizens, they will be living in poverty in their old age. The much-too-low minimum wage goes on hurting in retirement. In fact, too many seniors end up taking minimum wage jobs to have enough money to live in retirement!

Fourth: raising the minimum wage would increase the funds that the Social Security Trust Fund takes in and would help to push off or completely remove any possible insolvency from the fund.

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans urges you to support raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

The mission of our Alliance is to strive for social and economic justice, and civil rights for all citizens to enjoy lives with dignity, personal and family fulfillment, and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities. Here in New Hampshire we represent approximately 13,000 members.

Granite State Rumblings: The 2016 Presidential Budget Is Released

Did you knowToday, as I write this newsletter, it is Groundhog Day and the snow is coming down fast and steady. Punxsutawney Phil has predicted another 6 weeks of winter. While I am an animal lover, I must confess that I have requested that my friends and relatives in Pennsylvania hunt down that marmot and check his eyesight. He’s been doing his prognosticating since 1887, so how good could his eyesight actually be at that age? And by the way, did anyone else notice that his prediction of six more weeks falls in line nicely with the Spring Equinox on March 20th? Hmmm, I smell a rat!

More importantly though, today President Obama released his budget for 2016. We are pleased to see that included in it are many substantial investments for children and their families. Here are a few:

  • New investments in pre-school education
  • Making childcare more affordable
  • Addressing college affordability
  • Permanency of key provisions in the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit
  • Increasing access to housing

Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, issued this statement today on the President’s 2016 budget:

President Obama is proposing a surprisingly ambitious budget that would make progress — in some cases modest, in others large — in various areas in which policy sclerosis has prevented the nation from addressing significant problems.  It would expand opportunity, especially for children; reform various programs and tax incentives to make them more effective; and help large numbers of middle- and low-income families while scaling back inefficient tax shelters that mainly benefit those at the top.

The budget should also strengthen economic growth.  It would curb tax-driven economic distortions and invest part of the savings in initiatives that should make the labor force larger and more productive, such as pre-school education and child care, improved college access, stronger tax incentives for people to work, and much-needed infrastructure investments.

Along with financing such investments, the plan would use some of the new revenue and program savings for deficit reduction.  It would make modest but useful progress here, providing more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years (not counting the savings from winding down overseas wars).  In essence, the plan reflects the judgment, with which we concur, that the nation faces two kinds of serious deficits — in the long-term fiscal arena, but also in crucial areas that need resources.

Despite its investments, however, this is not a “big-spending budget,” contrary to some claims.  Total federal spending over the next ten years would average 21.75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — identical to the average for the Reagan years.  In fact, despite the budget’s proposals to ease the sequestration budget cuts, discretionary spending would fall by 2019 to its lowest level on record as a share of GDP, with data back to 1962.  So would non-defense discretionary spending.[1]

Overall, the budget is rather bold, with an unusual number of major new proposals for a President’s seventh budget.  It includes major reforms in such programs as unemployment insurance and crop insurance, as well as in the tax code and immigration, and measures to push federal agencies to conduct more evaluation, collect more data on program effectiveness, and make more evidence-based decisions.

Economic Benefits

As noted, the budget includes substantial new investments in pre-school education along with program and tax reforms to make college more affordable for millions of middle- and low-income students, which should boost the skills and productivity of the future workforce.

It also would help many struggling families by making child care more affordable and providing tax relief for second earners, making it easier for parents to work.  It includes measures to expand opportunities for retirement savings for many workers.

The budget makes permanent key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit that are scheduled to expire after 2017, thereby preventing 16 million people in low- and modest-income working families from being pushed into, or deeper into, poverty starting in 2018.  It also would strengthen the EITC for childless workers, as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has similarly proposed through a nearly identical proposal.  These workers are the sole group that the federal tax code now taxes into poverty.  Moreover, the EITC has been shown to raise labor-force participation rates among single parents, and many conservative and liberal experts alike believe a more adequate EITC for childless workers could have similar effects on many young adults.

Other tax changes in the budget also appear well-designed to help the economy.  The capital gains tax reforms would reduce inefficient tax sheltering as well as the degree to which investors “lock-in” (or hold) their investments rather than employ their investment capital in the most economically productive ways.  The budget’s fees on large financial institutions should discourage speculative behavior that could place the economy (and taxpayers) at risk.

In addition, the revenue raised by the budget’s transition tax on profits that multinational corporations hold overseas (which is part of the plan’s larger corporate-tax reform proposal) would finance long-overdue investments to modernize the aging U.S. infrastructure, which otherwise will exert a growing drag on growth.

For too long, policymakers and pundits have viewed tax reform as consisting solely of cutting tax rates and broadening the tax base.  That can prove economically beneficial.  But various other tax changes — such as proposals in the Obama budget to lessen tax-induced economic inefficiencies and invest the savings to strengthen human and physical capital — also would benefit the economy, while improving the prospects of millions of Americans.

Fiscal Responsibility

On the fiscal responsibility front, the budget does more than some initial commentary has assumed, in part because some of its proposals — such as its Medicare beneficiary changes (which are more significant than is widely realized) and its reforms in the tax treatment of unrealized capital gains — would produce savings that grow after the first decade.  The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the budget would slightly reduce the debt as a share of GDP over the first ten years and then stabilize it at least through 2040.  On the one hand, policymakers will ultimately need to do significantly more on this front.  On the other hand, stabilizing the debt over the next 25 years — a fiscally dangerous period in which the vast baby-boom generation will enter retirement, driving up costs for Social Security and Medicare — would represent no small accomplishment.

Some commentators have misunderstood the budget’s fiscal impacts.  In particular, some responded to last week’s disclosure that the budget would include relief from sequestration by arguing that that would violate past budget agreements and aggravate deficits and debt.  In reality, the budget would fully offset that relief through savings in entitlement programs and in the vast collections of tax deductions, credits, and other tax preferences known as “tax expenditures.”  Rather than violating the Budget Control Act (BCA), which put sequestration in place, the budget would do what the BCA originally intended — achieve deficit reduction through savings in mandatory programs and revenues rather than deeper cuts in discretionary programs.

Policymakers never intended for sequestration to occur.  They included it in the BCA as a fallback in case the congressional “supercommittee” failed to propose other deficit savings.  The Obama budget seeks to do what the supercommittee failed to achieve.

The proposal to ease sequestration is also consistent with the 2013 Murray-Ryan deal, which lessened the sequestration cuts for 2014 and 2015 and offset the cost through changes in mandatory programs and receipts.  And to the extent that sequestration cuts — which by their nature are temporary — are replaced with permanent changes in entitlement programs and revenues, the amount of long-term deficit reduction should increase.

As noted, the Obama budget proposes spending over the next ten years that would equal the Reagan-era average, even with the aging of the baby boomers.  In fact, under the Obama budget, total federal spending outside of Social Security, Medicare, and interest payments would drop from 11.7 percent of GDP in 2015 to 10.4 percent of GDP in 2025, well below its 11.9 percent average for the 40 years from 1975 to 2014.

Dead On Arrival?

Critics suggest that the Obama budget, like those of earlier Presidents, will be “dead on arrival.”  They also criticize the President for not heeding the results of November’s elections and moving more substantially toward congressional Republicans on fiscal matters.

Such criticisms are off base, however.  A President can reasonably outline where he thinks the country should go, rather than what might pass political muster in a fractious Congress.  Moreover, congressional Republicans didn’t move their budgets “to the middle” after Obama’s victory in 2012.  Both sides will face the true test of flexibility if and when they engage in budget negotiations (as I believe they will in 2015), not in providing their respective visions for the country at the outset.

Moreover, it’s in such negotiations — as well as when Congress writes appropriations bills — that policymakers will likely consider some of the proposals in the Obama budget.  For any President, the DOA label for his budget usually turns out simplistic and premature as, in the end, lawmakers consider and adopt more of it than the DOA prognosticators had assumed.

Finally, important aspects of this budget — with its ambitious proposals and array of reforms —  will likely become part of policy debates for a number of years as the nation searches for ways to tackle challenges that we have sidestepped for too long.

It is our hope that Congress will look at this budget with their minds on what is best for the American people and moving everyone forward, instead of simply on political ideology. Unfortunately, I probably don’t need a groundhog to tell me how that will turn out.

HELP RAISE THE NH MINIMUM WAGE

Tuesday, February 10, 1pm – 3pm, HB 163 Hearing – Establishing A State Minimum Hourly Rate, Representatives Hall

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

GROWING UP GRANITE

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization is currently being drafted by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. What has currently been proposed would effectively eliminate 21st CCLC afterschool/summer programming in 24 NH school districts.

The following is from our friends at the New Hampshire Afterschool Network (NHAN):

An Immediate Call to Action -
The Elimination of Dedicated 21st CCLC Funding has been Proposed

The draft Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill put forth by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) last week would eliminate the stand-alone, dedicated 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that currently reaches more than 1.6 million students through school-community partnerships.

We are asking you, your staff, your school administrators, community partners, parents and older youth to call or email Senators Shaheen and Ayotte immediately to tell them: 21st CCLC in NH serve students and families with the greatest need, improve students’ academic success and help families work. See below for further details and contact information.

As the Chair of the committee, Senator Alexander’s bill is a significant first step in the process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which includes the 21st CCLC Program. We need your voices to explain the value and importance of maintaining separate federal funding for programs that support young people when school is out. Please urge our NH Senators to weigh in against this proposal with their HELP committee colleagues.  A very strong show of support is necessary.

Senator Shaheen:
phone – (202) 224-2841 or (603) 647-7500
website for email – shaheen.senate.gov

Senator Ayotte:
phone – (202) 224-3324 or (603) 622-7979
website for email – ayotte.senate.gov

You can also create an email through the Afterschool Alliance website.

Senate staff record all phone calls and emails in support of or against pending legislation. All of our voices must be heard right now – even if you are not currently working in a 21st CCLC program.

21st CCLC Programs in NH:

  • Serve over 10,000 children and youth all over the state.
  • Serve students and families from communities in the greatest need.
  • Do not turn away students based on ability to pay.
  • Building stronger communities and community partnerships.
  • Improve student academic success.
  • Help working families.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me – lstanley@seresc.net  Thank you!  Lynn Stanley

AFT-NH Legislative Update 2-3-15: Kicking Off The Session

AFT NH Legislative Update

The 2015 session of the NH State legislature is underway and as always, there are many bills to follow and monitor.  Some legislative proposals will garner our support but others will earn our enmity and opposition as we defend the interests of our members and of working people in New Hampshire.  As we review proposed bills, we will determine our support or opposition based upon the basic legislative objectives listed below:

Education

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education

Retirement

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for universal access to secure retirement plans into which the state of NH and its cities and towns pay their required yearly contributions.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure all workers are covered by retirement plans that provide consistent and adequate income to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure earned retirement benefits are fully funded and safeguarded from market volatility or changes in employers’ economic situations.

Public employees

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for first-rate public services that support communities and keep them safe, healthy and vibrant.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure public employees are well-prepared and supported so they can provide the high-quality services our communities depend on.

Collective bargaining

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for collective bargaining laws in the state of NH and will work to defeat any and all legislation that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

Revenues

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.

Charter Schools Accountability

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

So far this session the House Education Committee heard testimony on HB 116: relative to the renomination of teachers. This bill reduces from 5 to 3 consecutive years of teaching required for a teacher to be entitled to notification and a hearing if the teacher is not reappointed. This bill would falls under our objective of “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.”

AFT-NH believes that all teachers deserve due process when being non-renewed.  Due process is the right to a legitimate reason, or “just cause,” before a teacher can be fired and requires a notice and an impartial just cause hearing before termination. We are asking to be treated fairly and without prejudice.

A Red Issue Alert went out this week about the above bill and if you have not taken action there is still time by clicking here.

They are also many bills moving through both chambers in regards to Common Core and state assessments. These bills would fall under the objective of; “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education.”

If these Standards and assessments are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • We need to ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • We must develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
  • We need to make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • We must be certain that assessments are aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • We need to have professional development and training in the Standards, and
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

With regards to assessments, AFT-NH believes in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve.  Assessments should not be designed to deliver sanctions that undermine students, teachers and schools.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing itself.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on SB 1 reducing the rate of the business profits tax.This bill would fall under AFT-NH’s objective to “stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.” AFT-NH has concerns with this bill. We have heard over and over that there is a $30 million shortfall in this current budget. With a hole of $30 million why would you cut roughly another $30 million in this biennium budget? How will this amount be made up or where in the budget will cuts be made?

Keep in mind that the state of New Hampshire already underfunds catastrophic special education aid to district by capping it at 72%.  With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million onto communities.  There has been a moratorium on Building aid which has hindered many districts from complete upgrades, making repairs to buildings or building new schools. Remember:  50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Lastly, what are the assurances that by reducing the business profits tax jobs would be created?  I see this as only leading to reductions in the public services that all citizens of New Hampshire rely upon.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

An Argument For Eliminating The Tipped Minimum Wage

(Screenshot College Humor YouTube)

(Screenshot College Humor YouTube)

Every morning millions of Americans wake up and get ready to go to work as servers in restaurants, hoping that today will be a busy day, and that they will have extra generous patrons who tip very heavy. These workers must rely on the generosity of strangers because their employer only pays them $2.13 an hour.   That is right servers are paid far below minimum wage, and 43 states approve of this.

The restaurant industry is one of the fast growing markets in the entire country bringing in over $600 billion dollars annually, and that trend does not appear to be stopping any time soon. Even during the Great Recession the restaurant industry continued to grow by an average of 9%.

This thriving industry relies on the fact that they can legally pay workers below minimum wage, which in most cases barely covers their taxes. The time has come to end this antiquated idea that servers should not be covered by the same wage requirements as every other employer.

Would you pay an extra dollar for that Chicken Parm if you knew that the server was being paid properly even before your tip? Would you even notice if they increased all their prices a dollar? Did you notice that they most like already raised their prices from this time last year? Servers in California are paid at least $8.00 an hour and people still go out to eat regularly.

Before you freak out over the idea of eliminating the tipped minimum wage, consider these facts from the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United):

  • Above-average employment growth occurs in the seven states that have already abolished the subminimum wage (Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Minnesota, California, Oregon, and Washington)
  • Per capita restaurant sales increase as the tipped minimum wage increases. Growth in tipped restaurant worker as a percentage of total state employment tends to be higher in the states that pay tipped workers above $5 per hour, and is higher still in states that have abolished the subminimum wage.
  • Eliminating subminimum wage does not decrease employment. In fact, the restaurant industry projects employment growth over the next decade of 10.5% in the seven states without a tipped subminimum wage, compared to 9.1% in states with a subminimum wage
  • Since 2009, tipped restaurant workers have grown in importance as a percentage of total employed workers in $2.13 states, states where tipped worker wages are higher than $5.00, and states without subminimum wage—but growth of tipped restaurant workers as a percentage of total employment is highest in states without subminimum wage.

Eliminating the tipped minimum wage would boost our local economy and help lift millions of people out of poverty. Here in New Hampshire, Representative Jackie Cilley has proposed a bold new minimum wage increase that would eliminate the tipped minimum wage and raise the floor to $14.25 over the next three years.

Enough of my facts and statistics about the tipped minimum wage, watch this hilarious video from College Humor that shows exactly why we need to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.

View the video on YouTube

Warning: Language!

Jackie Cilley: It Is Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Jackie Cilley (FACEBOOK)

State Rep Jackie Cilley, Image from Cilley For NH on Facebook

An idea is rapidly gaining force around the country, finding support across the political spectrum. Red states Arkansas, Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska voted last November to join bright-blue cities like San Francisco and Oakland in its support. President Obama and Mitt Romney have both expressed support and Gov. Maggie Hassan added it to her agenda at her inaugural. Liberal icon Ralph Nader and the Pied Piper of the right, Grover Norquist, have even teamed up to advocate for this measure. All these forces aligning can mean only one of two things: the netherworld has indeed frozen over or a good idea transcends political ideology.

While our weather might suggest the former, it’s actually a good idea that’s shifting the political winds: The idea is that American workers deserve a raise, and that increasing their wage can achieve many of the shared concerns of both Republicans and Democrats.

After watching the Legislature during my four years away, I didn’t suffer any illusions about the challenges facing my most important piece of legislation this session, a House Bill to create a livable wage for our New Hampshire workers, including those who make tips. This bill will raise wages to $14.25 over a three-year period and set the tipped minimum wage to the same level over a four-year period. Every year thereafter, if this legislation passes, the wage rate would increase according to the Consumer Price Index. This will take thousands of workers out of poverty and save tens of millions of dollars in public services.

Although states have voted directly to raise the minimum wage from its paltry $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers) and support for an increase enjoys the support of over 70 percent of New Hampshire voters, there has been a deep political divide over this topic, stalling attempts at the federal level for more than six years while Speaker Bill O’Brien completely eliminated the New Hampshire minimum wage during the 2011-2012 session.

Consider for a moment why the creation of a livable wage can bridge the divide between the parties. Both sides want to create jobs. Both want to move folks out of poverty. Both want a robust economy with opportunities for all. In fact, many of the goals of Republicans and Democrats are the same. The divide is in how to get there.

This isn’t pandering. It is rational economic policy, well supported by numerous studies and concrete results from states that have raised their minimum wage. Every business owner worth his/her salt knows the simple formula to expanding business and to hiring new employees: more customers must have the ability and willingness to buy your product or service. Setting aside whether you have something to sell that folks want, the ability of a consumer to buy your product is in large part determined by his or her financial resources. This is why three out of five small-business owners support a livable wage.

Let’s face it: Nobody can actually live on the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Even worse is the $2.13 minimum wage that employers of workers who make $30 or more a month in tips are allowed to pay their employees. There are 27,000 tipped workers in New Hampshire who make up 10 percent of our workforce, working in six of the 10 lowest-paid occupations in our state. These workers are disproportionately women; one-third are single moms.

Tipped workers are twice as likely to fall below the poverty line. In fact, the median wage of combined tips and hourly wages for tipped workers in New Hampshire is $8 per hour. These workers are also three times more likely to require public services such as food stamps, housing assistance and fuel assistance, than workers who make a more livable wage.

The economic arguments of opponents of these measures have largely been debunked. Aren’t most people earning minimum wage teenagers doing their first job? Seventy-two percent are no longer in their teens and fully 36 percent are 30 or older. Fourteen percent of minimum wage earners are parents, and 59 percent are women. Twenty-one thousand children in New Hampshire have a parent who would get a raise if the minimum wage were increased.

There are no compelling economic reasons for failing to set a state floor of livable wages. It has not been academic studies, but facts on the ground in states that have raised their minimum wage that proves this. Most recently, economists at Goldman Sachs, hardly a liberal think tank, reviewed the data on 13 states whose minimum wage was increased in 2013.

What they found was that in states where the minimum wage increased, there was faster employment growth than in those whose minimum wage remained depressed. It makes simple economic sense – more people with more money in their pockets means more customers for more goods and services, most notably at the local level where we need it most.

For more information on how to help pass this important legislation, please contact your senator and representatives at gencourt.state.nh.us.

AFL-CIO Releases Youth Economic Platform, Leading Up to State of the Union Address

Platform to serve as foundation for upcoming nationwide actions

Today, the AFL-CIO Young Worker Advisory Council released its economic platform as part of an effort to build a nationwide youth economic movement for raising wages. The platform, which is being announced on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, is an agenda for action for the labor federation’s nearly 50 Young Worker Groups across the country—including in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Despite the economy slowly rebounding, young people continue to lag behind. The President’s community college proposal is a wonderful idea but it has to be part of a bigger plan to revive the American Dream,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “This document and its principles should serve as the outline of what the President embraces in the State of the Union when he talks about young people next week.”

The platform includes a number of proposals that would help young people overcome many significant economic challenges. Among them: free high-quality public higher education, increased public investment to create jobs, stronger union rights, a heavier emphasis on combatting discrimination in the workforce, and policies that raise wages for all not just the wealthy.

“Unless there’s an election coming up, politicians far too often relegate the interests of young people to the backburner. To make sure that changes, young workers have told us they will fight for this agenda in the coming months,” said AFL-CIO Young Worker Coordinator Tahir Duckett.

The report can be viewed here: http://go.aflcio.org/nextup-future-economy

After Gov. Hassan’s Inaugural Speech The NH GOP Spread False Talking Points About The Minimum Wage

New Hampshire Republicans Double Down on Opposition to Strengthening Wages for Hard-Working Granite Staters

Republicans Use Debunked Claims About Effect of Minimum Wage on Job Creation;

Data Shows 2014 Job Creation Grew Faster in States that Raised the Minimum Wage

Concord, NH – Following Governor Hassan’s impassioned call for legislators to come together to finally restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, Republican leaders doubled down on their opposition to strengthening wages for tens of thousands of hard-working Granite Staters.

A WMUR Granite State Poll found that 76% of Granite Staters support raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents.

“As Governor Hassan argued passionately in her Inaugural Address, it is long past time for members of both parties to come together to finally restore and increase our state’s minimum wage,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Instead of recycling debunked talking points, Republican leaders need to listen to the voices of the people of New Hampshire and finally join with Governor Hassan to strengthen wages and move our economy forward.”

In her Inaugural Address, Governor Hassan stressed the importance of expanding opportunity and strengthening wages for New Hampshire families. But just moments after the Governor’s address concluded, Senator Jeb Bradley was already recycling the same old debunked Republican talking points, calling the minimum wage “a job-killer.”

The problem with such claims is that they’ve repeatedly been shown to be untrue. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that job creation in 2014 was faster in the 13 states that had increased their minimum wage on January 1, 2014 compared with those that had not. Another study from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found “strong earnings effects and no employment effects of minimum wage increases.”

Even more mind-boggling was the argument from Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, who told NHPR that New Hampshire should not increase the minimum wage because doing so “also raises the wage levels of everyone else up the line because if the minimum wage is raised, then other people are going to expect to get more money.”

“It’s ludicrous and just another sign of how completely backwards today’s New Hampshire Republican Party is that party leaders could argue that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea because it would help too many people,” added Buckley.

AFL-CIO Announces Raising Wages Summits in Presidential Primary States

 Expanded Campaign in Seven Cities

The first National Summit on Raising Wages definitively set the tone for political and economic action in the New Year. It generated an in-depth, diverse conversation and developed concrete steps for an expanded campaign to raise wages for working people. But above all, the summit proved America is beginning to rise up, come together and reject the idea that nothing can be done about falling wages.

The AFL-CIO’s national summit is just the beginning of the 2015 Raising Wages campaign. From today’s success, the campaign expands with two initial projects:

1)      State federations of labor will hold Raising Wages summits in the first four presidential primary states—Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina—beginning in Iowa this spring. These summits will bring together diverse voices to lay out the entire Raising Wages platform and establish state-based standards of accountability.

2)      The AFL-CIO will take the Raising Wages campaign to seven cities around the country: Atlanta, Columbus, DC (Metro), St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and San Diego. In each city, the labor movement will stand together with those already at work and bring important energy, ideas and resources to critical battles. These cities will be the starting points of a long-term effort to concentrate work where it can have the most impact.

In major speeches highlighting the summit, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez outlined the defining economic fact of the past generation: productivity has gone way up and wages have stayed flat. Concluding the summit, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka highlighted the enormous progress, remaining challenges and real steps the labor movement plans to undertake in order to create an economy based on raising wages.

The AFL-CIO also released a series of policy prescriptions that take on many of the challenges discussed. These bold policies provide a comprehensive road map to grow our nation’s economy in a way that works for everyone.

The core of the summit’s success was built on a panel discussion of workers, academics, business owners and progressive and political leaders. Through this conversation, panelists detailed how the raising wages agenda made great strides and confronted great challenges in 2014, including major organizing wins at American Airlines, multiple state legislative victories on the minimum wage and innovative campaigns conducted by carwash workers. The panelists also recognized, however, that right-wing billionaires’ extremist politics, a rapacious Wall Street and insufficient advocacy from political leaders thwarted further progress.

The AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages was attended by more than 300 progressive activists and union leaders, and was seen by thousands more through online live-stream video.

This summit is how the work begins. At its end, the challenges—but more importantly, the opportunities—are clear. Allies united behind the idea of a Raising Wages Agenda have come together in a collective voice, and are ready to go to work.

Progressive NH State Rep To Propose Minimum Wage Increase To $14.25 And Eliminating The “Tipped Minimum Wage”

Minimum Wage 101

Representative Jackie Cilley to introduce far-reaching minimum wage legislation

Fmr. State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate returns to Concord to pursue middle-class agenda

JackiePortrait(Barrington, NH) After a four-year absence from the New Hampshire General Court, newly-returned Barrington representative Jackie Cilley announced that her first piece of legislation – and her chief priority in the coming session – is to give New Hampshire’s struggling workers a raise with an increased minimum wage paired with the elimination of the so-called “tipped minimum wage.” This legislation would mark a return to a state-based minimum wage and move tipped workers into the economic mainstream with a raise from the current rate of $2.90.

Cilley, whose legislation would raise the minimum wage to $14.25 per hour over a three year-period and eventually tie the tipped minimum wage to the same figure, argues the move from both a matter of fairness and economic common sense.

“Most of use want to get paid what we are worth, what we contribute to the companies and organizations for whom we work,” notes Cilley.  “If the minimum wage had actually kept pace with worker productivity, it would be $21.72 today.  Instead, workers’ wages peaked decades ago because of partisan divide.”

“Conservatives and progressives should both want to see the creation of livable wages.  Set aside for a moment the argument of fairness to workers and just consider what each of us is paying to help an employer keep a worker at sub-livable wages.  These workers can’t actually live on those wages. They often need such support services as food stamps, fuel assistance, housing assistance and so on.   If the minimum wage were raised to just $10.10 per hour that would mean 1.7 million people across this country would no longer need public assistance, saving us $7.6 billion.  I don’t yet have the exact figures for this for New Hampshire, but simply pro-rating it per capita suggests a savings of more than $30 million.”

“This is long overdue: They were one vote away from making a substantial start in the last session and I want to keep that momentum moving, regardless of the partisan makeup of the new legislature,” Cilley said. “This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue – Mitt Romney supports an increased minimum wage, for example – but we have to make the case on economic, not just fairness grounds.”

“Bill O’Brien’s decision to put what New Hampshire businesses pay their workers in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, DC was terrible choice. We need to have a minimum wage that reflects the economy and values of New Hampshire, not DC – This legislation puts the decision back where it belongs, in New Hampshire.”

Legislation pushed by then-Speaker Bill O’Brien repealed the state’s minimum wage law in 2011 and handed jurisdiction to the federal government. Gov. Lynch vetoed the legislation, but O’Brien’s allies in the House overrode the veto. The National Employment Law Project’s Christine Owens said at the time that “given the fact that minimum wage workers spend every penny they earn in their local businesses, a strong wage floor is also vital to stimulating the consumer spending necessary for real and lasting economic recovery.”

These economic facts of life haven’t changed. A study released in March of 2014 by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute echoes Owens words.

“Most notably, raising the minimum wage will increase demand for the goods and services sold by businesses operating in the Granite State. Low-wage workers, out of necessity, typically spend every dollar that they earn. As a result, the increased wages they will earn from a higher minimum wage will almost certainly be spent – and most likely be spent quickly – in the communities in which they live and work.”

About Jackie Cilley: Born in Berlin, New Hampshire, Jackie Cilley was raised with four siblings in a third-floor walk-up tenement before graduating from Berlin High School. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNH and has served as an adjunct professor at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics since matriculating from there in 1985. In 2004 she ran for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and won, serving one term in the House before being elected twice to the  New Hampshire Senate, representing the 6th District from 2006 – 2010. In 2012, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor, losing to Gov. Hassan. She was re-elected to the New Hampshire House in 2014 where she serves on the Committee on Executive Departments and Administration. Rep. Cilley was recently named by veteran NH political reporter John DiStaso as one of the “‘Most wanted’ NH Democrats for the 2016 presidential campaign.”

My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

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The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org