Current Wages, An American Dream Or A Nightmare

poor child poverty hunger

Every day millions of Americans wake up and go to work.  They are always chasing their own version of the American Dream:  that long-held ideal that if you work hard enough and long enough you can succeed.

For many, this dream is having the financial security to own that suburban house with the white picket fence.  Two little kids and the dog running through the back yard, while mom and dad are prepping for a barbeque dinner on the patio.

This Norman Rockwell vision of the American family has pushed people to always try harder, and to do whatever it takes to reach the ultimate goal of financial security.

Sadly for many Granite Staters, every day they go to work that dream is turning into a nightmare.  They slave at work for hours on end, while their paychecks are being stretched thinner and thinner.  Every day is a struggle to pay their bills and they are constantly falling further and further behind.  A $15,000 a year salary does not go very far when you have family.

Nobody who has tried to live on a minimum wage income would ever say that these people are lazy.  Just surviving on a minimum wage income is hard work.

Low-wage workers are not “just teenagers” as some may imply; they are adults. 70% of minimum wage earners in NH are over the age of 20, 36% of them are over the age of 30, and over 14% of them have at least one child. Many of them work two or three jobs just so their children do not have to go to bed hungry, every night.  Unfortunately going to bed hungry is a stark reality for too many children.

We are the richest nation in the world, yet we have children in our own country who are literally starving.  How is this even possible?  I do not have the answer to this question, but I know that we can do something about it.

Raising the minimum wage is a simple and effective solution to help millions of working families.  States across the country have pushed legislation to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour, to $9.00 an hour. Some have even gone as high as $15.00 per hour.

When you are living in poverty, every penny matters.   For the 75,000 Granite Staters who are living on minimum wage incomes, an increase to $9.00 would add $300 a month to their take home pay.  I guarantee you that every dollar of that additional $300 would be spent right here in our local shops and businesses.  If you are struggling to pay your bills today, there is not much saving for tomorrow.

The NH Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire would add an additional $60 million to our local economy.

This is a political slam-dunk.  It is good for the 75,000 people who are living in poverty and trying every day to just survive.  It is good for our economy, because when low-income workers have money, they will spend it.  It is good politics, seeing that over 70% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage.

People do not want a hand out, they want to earn what they bring home.  They want to work for an honest pay that actually will pay the bills.  That is the real American Dream, and by raising the minimum wage, we can make that dream a reality.

*    *    *

If you are interested we will be holding a “lobby day” at the NH State House on Tuesday April 22nd.  Details here 

CEOs Paid 331 Times Average Worker, 774 Times Minimum Wage Worker

Executive Pay Watch

Executive Pay Watch

2014 Executive PayWatch exposes high paid CEOs in the low wage economy

www.PayWatch.org

While Congress has left for recess failing to fully address economic issues from the minimum wage to unemployment insurance and equal pay, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka unveiled the 2014 Executive PayWatch today. According to its data, U.S. CEOs – the highest paid in the world – pocketed, on average, $11.7 million in 2013 compared to the average worker who earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker.

Many of the CEOs highlighted in PayWatch head companies, like Walmart, that are notorious for paying low wages. In 2013, CEOs made 774 times more than those who work for minimum wage. And while many of these companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.

This year, PayWatch highlights five low wage companies through worker testimonials at Walmart, Kellogg’s, Reynolds, Darden Restaurants and T-Mobile.

“These companies are run by short-sighted business leaders, because people who earn minimum wage, for instance, can’t afford cell phones from T-Mobile or dinner at Red Lobster or the Olive Garden, both of which are owned by Darden Restaurants,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “America’s CEOs—as exemplified by the individuals of these companies—are cannibalizing their own consumer base. It’s wrong. It’s unfair, and it’s bad economics.”

PayWatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies. It offers visitors to the website the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives.

“CEO Executive PayWatch calls attention to the insane level of compensation for CEOs, while the workers who create those corporate profits struggle for enough money to take care of the basics,” said Trumka. “This database is relevant to every community in the country. And we’ll use this data to organize and mobilize to lift millions of workers out of poverty and to strengthen the middle class.”

Raising The Minimum Wage Would Improve The Lives Of 4 Million African-Americans

Image via Wiki-Commons
Image via Wiki-Commons

Image via Wiki-Commons

A new study conducted by the AFL-CIO confirms 4,123,000 African American workers would benefit if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 per hour. The study, “Closing the Gap to the American Dream,” which uses information provided by the Economic Policy Institute, found that while African Americans make up 11% of the workforce, up to 14.8% of those workers would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would improve the lives of more than 4 million African Americans,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This pay raise is vital if we want to get our economy back to pre-recession levels. This is why the AFL-CIO has launched a Raising Wages campaign, to hold Congress accountable to the American people and demand that they raise the minimum wage for the dignity of workers and the sake of our economy and country.”

The report details the state of economic insecurity for many African Americans, who are much more likely to be paid lower wages than others. African Americans often have trouble finding a job, and if they are working, struggle to save for retirement. Hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 would greatly help African American workers across the country.

AFL-CIO Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Director Carmen Berkley said, “Raising the minimum wage is critical to African American communities across this nation. With national unemployment for African Americans still lingering in the double digits, any help from President Obama and Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for jobs that African Americans already hold would be welcomed and a boost to our economy.”

The EPI report also highlights that between 2000 and 2007, African American men saw a decrease in weekly earnings of 2.3% compared with white workers, while African American women saw a 3.2% increase in weekly earnings. From 2007 to 2012, the report found that African American women only saw a 1.5% increase in their weekly earnings, lower than white women, while African American men saw virtually no change in their weekly earnings.

Click here to view the report

For more information on the AFL-CIO’s Raising Wages campaign, visithttp://go.aflcio.org/ClosingTheGap

 

New White House Reports Shows Women Benefit The Most From A Minimum Wage Increase

Women and the Minimum Wage

The growing income inequality has become a major issue in the United States in recent years.  Much of this debate has surrounded by the failure of the minimum wage to keep up with the ever-growing cost of living.

There have been many studies done by numerous think tanks that show if we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour it will lift millions of low-wage workers out of poverty.  While the opponents of a minimum wage increase like to say that many of the low-wage workers are just teenagers earning extra spending money, the truth could not be farther from the truth.

“Most people who would get a raise if we raise the minimum wage are not teenagers on their first job – their average age is 35.  A majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women.  These Americans are working full-time, often supporting families, and if the minimum wage had kept pace with our economy’s productivity, they’d already be earning well over $10 an hour today.  Instead, it’s stuck at $7.25.  Every time Congress refuses to raise it, it loses value because the cost of living goes higher, minimum wage stays the same.”

- President Obama, Remarks at Central Connecticut State University, March 5, 2014

The wage gap between men and women has also come to the forefront of the low-wage discussion with recent political pushes for legislation like paycheck fairness and the Lily Ledbetter Act.

The fact is that women are the majority of low-wage workers, over 55%, of the people who would be effected by a minimum wage increase.  This is even more evident when we talk about the tipped minimum wage.  Women make up 75% of workers in tipped occupations.

Women and the Minimum Wage

Many states have a reduced minimum wage for tipped workers. For example the tipped minimum wage in New Hampshire is $3.27 an hour.  This means the employer, the restaurant, only has to pay employees $3.27 an hour provided the employee makes enough in tips to ensure that they are paid the state minimum wage ($7.25).   19 states have a tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, while six states do not have any reduced minimum for tipped workers.

Tipped Minimum Wage by State

The truth is that workers in predominantly tipped occupations are twice as likely as other workers to experience poverty, and servers are almost three times as likely to be in poverty.  It is glaringly obvious that workers who rely on tips are not making enough to support themselves or their families.

Just like the minimum wage, the power of the tipped wage has eroded over the last 20 years since it was last increased.  Since 1991, the tipped minimum wage has declined by 40 percent in real terms.  Today, the tipped minimum wage equals just 29 percent of the full minimum wage, the lowest share since the tipped minimum wage was established in 1966.

 

Tipped wages lost value

Another major issue with the tipped minimum wage is that not all employees are making enough in tips to reach the minimum wage. When surveyed, more than 1 in 10 workers in predominantly tipped occupations report hourly wages below the full national minimum wage, including tips.

Raising the full minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage will help reduce poverty among women and their families, as well as make progress toward closing the gender pay gap.

  • About one-quarter (26 percent) of all workers who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 have dependent children, and 31 percent of female workers who would benefit have children.
  • 2.8 million working single parents would benefit from the President’s proposed increase in the full minimum wage, more than 80 percent of whom are women.
  • Research shows that raising the minimum wage reduces child poverty among female-headed households.
  • Increasing the minimum wage can also help women work their way out of poverty and into the middle class.
  • For every dollar that men earn, women earn just 77 cents. Estimates from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers suggest that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation could close about 5 percent of the gender wage gap.

Chances are that you know someone who works hard in a low-wage job who will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage will help workers lift themselves out of poverty and reduce the amount of money they receive from government assistance programs.   Raising the minimum wage is common sense. America needs a long overdue raise, and the time is now.

 

Read the full White House report: THE IMPACT OF RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE ON WOMEN – March 2014

 

AFL-CIO Leads Efforts To Raise The Minimum Wage Around the Country

AFL-CIO_Headquarters_by_Matthew_Bisanz2
AFL-CIO Headquarters by Matthew Bisanz

AFL-CIO Headquarters by Matthew Bisanz

(Washington, DC – March 18, 2014) In addition to the growing effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, working families across the country have been leading movements to raise wages at the state and local level.

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009 and wages for tipped workers have been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991.  Against that backdrop, workers, often led by local labor movements, are moving their own efforts to increase the minimum wage in several states, even where the state minimum wage is higher than the national. Coalitions across the country are working to raise wages in a variety of forms, some examples of local movements to raise wages are listed below:

Alaska: Over 43,000 signatures were collected in support of a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $9.75 over two years, with an annual adjustment for inflation. Alaskans will vote on the initiative in August.

Arkansas: A coalition including labor and community group are campaigning for a ballot measure that would eventually raise the minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 in steps over the next three years.

Connecticut: Labor groups applauded Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Student and community groups have testified in support of the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.  The bill would include tipped workers.

Iowa: Sen. Tom Harkin is the author of the federal legislation, and workers in his home state are also pushing for a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Community members have adopted the cry, “We can’t survive on $7.25!”

Idaho: Labor and community groups have joined together to spearhead a push to raise the minimum wage through the legislature in Idaho. The state has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country.

Los Angeles: The Raise L.A. campaign is focusing on raising the wages of hotel workers to $15 an hour. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has invited Pope Francis to come to L.A. to help champion economic equality for low wage workers.

Massachusetts:Last year, workers and community members joined together as the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition to collect 275,000 signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the 2014 ballot. This spring, they are organizing community meetings and lobby days to ask legislators to pass a minimum wage increase in addition to earned sick time.

Minnesota: An active coalition of faith, labor, and community organizations is working to pass a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015 with future increases indexed to inflation. In February, Working America held their Minimum Wage Challenge Week, in which five lawmakers struggled to live on minimum wage for a week.

Missouri: A bill to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour is currently active in the state senate. Low wage and tipped workers organized to turn out and testify at a critical hearing, helping the bill pass out of committee.

New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, the local labor movement has named raising the minimum wage one of their top priorities for 2014.  They are actively working with community allies to push a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

Pennsylvania: A coalition of labor unions, clergy, community and women’s organizations gathered at the state capitol just this week to launch the campaign to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Bills are currently pending in the state legislature. The coalition plans an aggressive grassroots mobilization to make minimum wage a center issue in the fall elections.

Seattle: Workers and community members in Seattle are aiming to replicate the success of neighboring SeaTac with an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the city.  Washington State has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour.  Hundreds have turned out to rallies and city council meetings to show their support for the measure.

South Dakota: The South Dakota AFL-CIO along with working families succeeded in getting a minimum wage increase on the ballot that will be voted on in November.  The measure would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and increase annually based on cost of living – it would also include an increase for tipped workers.

West Virginia– The West Virginia AFL-CIO led a successful campaign to increase the state minimum wage.  The bill has been passed by the legislature and sent to the Governor and would increase the state minimum wage to $8.00 to $8.75.  The bill will also include an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers.

Philadelphia Low Wage and Fast Food Workers Hungry for a $15 Minimum Wage

mcpoverty-cover-620x264

mcpoverty-cover-620x264

Guest Column by Sean Kitchen of the Raging Chicken Press (PA)

The low-wage worker campaign that has swept across the country since November 2012 is primed to make its Philadelphia debut.  The Fight for 15 movement began in November 2012 when 200 fast food restaurant workers across New York City went on a one day strike for the living wage of fifteen an hour.  Since then, the movement has spread to hundreds of cities across the United Stateschanged the national conversation on increasing the minimum wage and had a number of political victories.  In Philadelphia, a coalition is forming between the Service International Employees Union and local grassroots organizations and the Socialist Alternative, who had a successful minimum wage campaign in Seattle, Washington.

I Support Fight for 15 The labor coalition met in Northeast Philadelphia on Friday February 21 to discuss strategy and tactics and to fight for reforms to the the Commonwealth’s minimum wage and tipped minimum wage laws and several other policies affecting low wage workers. One person in attendance was State Senator and 13th District candidate Daylin Leach.  In an email exchange with the House candidate, Leach described the minimum wage fights as “among our most noble fights” and that “every worker has a right to expect, and to fight for, a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and a wage that enables people who work hard full time not to live in poverty.”  Senator Leach believes that $10.10 is too low and supports a minimum wage of $12.00, pegged to inflation, because it “would lift people above the poverty level.”  One of the biggest issues Leach has is with the tipped minimum wage.  He stated:

The tipped minimum wage is one of the most evil policies on the books at either the state or federal level, and we must address it at any and every level we can. At the federal level, the $2.13 tipped minimum wage has not been raised in 23 years. Many workers make far less than minimum wage on average, but their employers report them at minimum wage so the poorest workers pay taxes on money they aren’t even seeing.
Plus, employers are allowed to use tipped workers for non-tippable purposes (for example, cleaning out the freezer) for 20% of the work day. In other words, they get to pay their workers $2.13 for work they will never see a tip for.

On Saturday, February 15, the Philadelphia branch of Socialist Alternativeheld a meeting with speakers from New York and Boston and over 40 low wage workers from the Philadelphia area.  This effort is part of a nationwide effort by Socialist Alternative.  The organization had  major victories in Seattle last fall with their 15 Now campaign by electing socialist candidate Kshama Sawant to city council and forcing the Seattle mayor to take action on the issue.  Since being sworn in, Sawant has taken a hardline stance on “McPoverty Wages.” Justin Harrison, a union worker and Socialist Alternative member, stated “Philadelphia is one of the poorest major American cities, but our society has the resources to easily provide every worker a decent living. In Seattle, $15/hr is not a marginal issue anymore; it’s central to the city’s political debates. Today we join workers across the country to bring that fight to Philadelphia.”  Their first Philadelphia actions will be held March 8th and May 1st.

In November 2012, a couple hundred fast food and low wage workers launched a movement that flies in the face of the conventional wisdom surrounding our minimum wage laws.  The Fight for $15 is probably one of the most radical ideas to come out of the labor movement in decades and it has already changed the minimum wage debate.  The Fight for $15 forced the president to support a $10.10 federal  minimum wage, while others in Congress want a higher minimum wage, and has had victories in states and cities across the country.  In an age of social media and instant gratification, the resurgence of the progressive movement since  the Wisconsin Uprising and the formation and dismantling of Occupy Wall Street has scored major victories over the past three years.  It came out in full force when its backs were up against the wall in Madison, it unmasked the 1% and sparked a debate on income inequality and now it has put paid sick leave on the agenda and completely changed the way we think about the minimum wage.  The only remaining question is what comes next?

Photo credit Rising Tide.

Raise The Wage Coalition Calls For A Minimum Wage Increase

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

Raise the Wage Coalition Demonstrates Strong Support for HB 1403, Increasing the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members hosted a press conference in the LOB Lobby this morning, Tuesday, February 11th to introduce HB 1403, raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Three-quarters of Granite Staters – including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour, according to the Granite State Poll released last week. HB 1403 would raise the wages of 76,000 New Hampshire workers in the first two years, stimulating the economy and increasing consumer demand. Elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members spoke at the press conference immediately prior to testifying at the public hearing on HB 1403, where supporters of the bill outnumbered opponents 5 to 1.

Excerpts of statements are as follows:

Remarks by Prime House Sponsor, Rep. Sally Kelly

Seven years ago, as a freshman legislator, I began my service on the Labor Committee and I was proud to stand side-by-side with my Democratic and Republican colleagues as Governor Lynch signed minimum wage legislation into law.

It was the right time then and it is the right time now for both parties and both chambers to come together so New Hampshire citizens no longer have to say that every other New England state pays a higher minimum wage to its workers than we do.  As a state, we are so much better than that. As a retail executive, I am continually aware of the life of small business owners.  Today, our economy is on the rise and the timing for this moderate increase is just right.

Last week’s Granite State poll confirms that this legislation does just that; more than two-third of Granite Staters –76% – support increasing the New Hampshire minimum wage to $9 per hour. That includes 64% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 91% of Democrats.

 

Remarks by Prime Senate Sponsor, Senator Sylvia B. Larsen

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 1403, which would give New Hampshire working families a much needed raise. For the first time since World War II, wages have been declining in this country. Moms and Dads are working harder, but falling further behind. These are families who work hard and play by the rules. They should be able to afford to live with dignity and raise a family. All members of the Legislature talk about helping working families and growing the economy and this bill does just that.

Accelerating New Hampshire’s economic growth is only possible when individuals and working families are confident in their own financial situations. When that happens, their increased spending helps to grow our businesses and our economy. That’s why it’s vital that we restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage. By restoring and increasing the state’s minimum wage, we will help our economy by putting more money in the pockets of hard-working people of all ages. Increasing the minimum wage will go a long way to restoring hope in the American Dream, the faith that by working hard and playing by the rules, you will be able to responsibly support your family.

 

Remarks by Diana Lacey, President of State Employee’s Association, SEIU 1984

SEIU 1984 LogoEvery day, hundreds of state and municipal workers across New Hampshire talk with low-wage workers about the burden that working hard but living with poverty level wages brings upon their families. What they see rings true with the things that the late Nelson Mandela saw, and spoke of in a February 2005 speech on poverty in London’s Trafalgar Square. Mr. Mandela referenced the effects of poverty as being imprisoned, enslaved and chained in the prison of poverty.  His powerful words included this brief excerpt:

“They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

We are one of the wealthiest states in this country and we simply must do our part to lift working people up out of poverty. Passage of this minimum wage bill is an important start.  This is the right bill, at the right time. In lifting up our workers, we will lift up all of New Hampshire. Doing so is an act of justice, and a path to freedom.

 

Remarks by The Rev. William E. Exner

A number of faith leaders gathered for prayer this morning, right across the street from the State House at St. Paul’s. We prayed for a livable minimum wage to be voted into law in the state of New Hampshire, and we prayed for our neighbors who work hard every day, yet whose present earnings keep them locked in poverty and constant need.

We prayed for people like the 43 year old woman with two children who works at a fast food restaurant in our state. The woman’s husband is working, but not full time as his work is seasonal. To help make ends meet, she works her first job from 8 am to 5 pm, then works her second job from 6 pm to 2 am. She and her husband work so hard but still struggle to afford the basics for their family, and to cover the cost of much needed car repairs.

As faith leaders, we are here to urge a change for the better. It’s a moral imperative. The Book of the Prophet Isaiah in the Bible sets the standard when it states, “Look, you are serving your own needs while you oppress all your workers.” The Bible goes on to insist that we become ‘repairers of this unjust breach’, that we become ‘restorers of streets to live in.’ Life without a livable minimum wage lands one on quite another road.  As people of faith we are concerned for our neighbors who are paid at levels that relegate them and their children to poverty. In this state work ought not have poverty as its reward.

 

Remarks by Laura Miller, former Owner of Imagination Village

Miller was the owner of a retail business for 12 years that employed 5 people. She is now a member of the management team of a larger independent retail business that employs 18.

We have always made it a priority to pay a living wage – recognizing that in order to retain employees that help you reach your business goals, you need to pay them decently and give them opportunities to balance work, family, school and community lives. It only makes sense that if your staff is getting what they need, they will be able to focus on doing their best job for you. I am here today to support House Bill 1403, especially the cost of living increment. It is long overdue that we increase the base wage in this country. It is unconscionable that you can work full time and still live below the poverty level.

Increasing the minimum wage reduces the need for government funding of assistance programs such as the earned income tax credit and food stamps, by shifting profits back down to the local level. It keeps money in the local economy as workers need these dollars for housing, food, gas and other consumables. And I know, as other small business leaders know, that increasing the minimum wage helps businesses retain employees. In turn, quality employees can develop within a business, increasing productivity and therefore providing increased value to the enterprise, whether large or small. Raising the minimum wage helps all – it helps workers, the community, and small businesses.

 

Remarks by President Mark S. MacKenzie, New Hampshire AFL-CIO

MacKenzie was unable to attend due to a funeral. His written remarks are below and were read by NH AFL-CIO campaign coordinator Judy Stadtman.

NH AFL-CIO LogoFor New Hampshire’s minimum wage workers, and for all of us, this is about justice and dignity, and the promise of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Thousands of our friends and neighbors struggle to support families while earning the minimum wage. These workers are frequently forced to forgo basics—food, housing, clothing—and far too many rely on public assistance to survive in this economy.

It’s a myth that minimum wage jobs are held by teenagers. Today, less than a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers. Most are breadwinners in their families and work full time.  The median age of a low wage worker is 34 years old.  And most minimum wage earners are women. The fact is that minimum and lower wage workers in our state don’t earn enough to support a family. The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, these families have little or no hope of providing for a better life for their children. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

Passing this bill to raise employee wages would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and boost the New Hampshire economy. More than four out of five economists say the benefits of increasing the minimum wage would outweigh the costs. Further, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found raising the minimum wage would create jobs while causing no reduction in the availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth. Five of the six fastest growing sectors of the American economy are in low wage industries – home health aides; customer service representatives; food preparation and serving workers; personal care assistants and retail salespersons. To rebuild a strong middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, we must pay fair wages in these growing sectors.

————————————————-

HB 1403 was heard by the House Labor Committee. The bill can be found here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1403.html

About the Raise the Wage New Hampshire Coalition: The Raise the Wage coalition includes organizational members American Friends Service Committee, America Votes, Economic Justice Mission Group of the United Church of Christ-NH, Every Child Matters, Granite State Progress, Housing Action NH, Interfaith Voices for Humane Public Policy, National Education Association-New Hampshire, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, New Hampshire Child Advocacy Network, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, New Hampshire Kids Count, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, New Hampshire Women’s Initiative, State Employee’s Association of New Hampshire – SEIU Local 1984, and Women’s Fund of NH, in addition to elected officials, community advocates, and small business leaders.

Citation: UNH Survey Center, Granite State Poll, Winter 2014

http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2014_winter_issues020614.pdf

 

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry On SOTU

Image by Chet Susslin 
From National Journal


“It should not fall only on the president and Congress to make sure workers earn a decent wage. Our business leaders have a responsibility to help close the growing income gap, especially in an era of record profits.” – Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Image by Chet Susslin  From National Journal

Image by Chet Susslin
From National Journal

WASHINGTON, DC – After President Obama delivered his 2014 State of the Union address, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) issued the following statement:

“In his address tonight, President Obama made clear that he believes economic inequality to be the defining issue of our time. It threatens the state of our union and I applaud the president for beginning a broader discussion about how we achieve shared prosperity.

“One step forward is the president’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Bills exist in Congress that would raise the wage and we hope they are taken up and passed as soon as possible. We need to end the new ‘normal’ of workers stringing together low-wage jobs with no benefits that can’t support a family. As President Obama said tonight, ‘the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.’

“In addition, requiring federal contractors to pay their workers $10.10 is another step forward and we are encouraged that the president will use his executive authority to make it happen. When American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, the president shouldn’t have to wait for Congress.

“While raising these wages is a good start, it won’t solve the problem by itself. The best way for workers to thrive is by bargaining with their employers for better wages and a shot at a better future. However, it should not fall only on the president and Congress to make sure workers earn a decent wage. Our business leaders have a responsibility to help close the growing income gap, especially in an era of record profits.

“Simone Sonnier-Jang, a fast food worker from Los Angeles who sat in the House gallery tonight, is one of thousands of workers around the country calling attention to the crisis of low wages. Workers like her are making their voices heard and demanding $15 an hour and the right to form a union.

“Also of critical importance to achieving shared prosperity is action on commonsense immigration reform. The time is now – actually, it’s past due. Both sides need to come together to pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship and we urge the president to keep the pressure on lawmakers to pass real reform so that 11 million people can come out of the shadows and participate fully in our democracy.

“It’s important to note how important affordable health care is for Americans’ economic security. That’s why protecting the Affordable Care Act should remain a priority for this Congress.”

Raising The Minimum Wage, Increases Employment And One City Proved It

Minimum Wage 101

Minimum Wage 101Tens of thousands of hard working Granite Staters are currently working and doing their best to survive in minimum wage jobs.  The time has come to raise the minimum wage.

The debate over raising the minimum wage has been raging throughout the United States since the minimum wage was first instituted in 1938.  The debate has not changed in over 70 years. Proponents claim raising the minimum wage will help low-wage workers and will boost the economy because workers will have more spendable income.  The opponents claim that an increase to the minimum wage will cost jobs, therefore hurting the economy, leading to higher unemployment and massive inflation.

Both sides have merit, however the facts continue to prove that an increase to the minimum wage is far more beneficial to workers, employers and the economy.

Many states and large cities have already moved to increase the minimum wage above and beyond the federal minimum of $7.25.   San Francisco was one of the early leaders in pushing up the minimum wage. In fact the city raised their minimum wage in 2004 and indexed it to inflation.  Currently the minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.74, well above the federal minimum, and even more than the proposed $10.10 federal minimum wage increase.

The fact that San Francisco raised the minimum wage almost a decade ago has given us a real life test bed for how it will impact the local economy.  The results were staggering. In San Francisco between 2004-2011, private employment grew by 5.6%.  Neighboring towns also benefited from the increase.  The entire Santa Clara Country saw a 3% increase in private employment.

More importantly employment in the food service industry grew by 17.7%, debunking the myth that raising the minimum wage will cost low-wage workers their jobs.

That is not to say that there were not drawbacks to raising the minimum wage.  There was a minor (2.8%) increase in prices at local fast food restaurants compared to the surrounding areas.  This increase would mean that your $2.00 hamburger now costs $2.06.  This is hardly the massive inflation that some people claim.

The minimum wage increase in San Francisco also benefited low-wage employers.  According to Ken Jacobs, chairman of the US Berkley Labor Center, turnover in low-wage jobs “decreased by 60%”, which saves employers from having to spend additional money to hire and train new workers.

New Hampshire is now at a crossroad, do we increase the minimum wage to benefit our local economy, or do continue to survive in this stagnant economy.  HB 1403 would incrementally raise the minimum wage in NH to $9.00 over the next two years, and then tie it to the Consumer Price Index.

Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.  The Quinnipiac University Poll showed that 71% support an increase.  The Washington Post Poll found similar results, 66% support an increase.  The Washington Post Poll went one step further by asking what the minimum wage should be.  The median response was $9.00 per hour.

The New Hampshire Legislature must do what is best for all Granite Staters and the local economy by raise the minimum wage.

11 Must-Know Facts About The Minimum Wage

Photo: Derek Gee/The Buffalo News/AP
Photo: Derek Gee/The Buffalo News/AP

Photo: Derek Gee/The Buffalo News/AP

Most likely you know some things about the minimum wage, however I would like to take three minutes to give you some quick facts about the minimum wage that you may not know.   I will assume that you already know that the current federal minimum wage is $7.25.  Right now there are multiple campaigns pushing for a higher minimum wage, they range from $9.00-$15.00.  The most powerful campaign is Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep George Miller’s (D-California) proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over two years, and then tie it to inflation so it will continue to rise as the cost of living rises.

  1. There are over 3.5 million workers who earn at or below the minimum wage. 1.55 Million earn exactly minimum wage and 1.98 million earn below minimum wage.
  2. Over 75% of all minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old! This is completely contrary to the myth that all minimum wage workers are teenagers. Additionally over 49% of all minimum wage workers are over the age of 25.  (Source BLS) Of all minimum wage workers 64% are women.
  3. Idaho has the highest percentage (7.7%) of hourly workers at or below the minimum wage. Idaho edged out Texas (7.5%), Oklahoma (7.2%) and Louisiana (7.1%) for this illustrious title. (Source BLS)
  4. 20.6% of all minimum wage workers are married. The majority (18.3%) of the married minimum wage workers are over the age of 25. (Source BLS) Additionally 27.9% of those effected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 are parents raise at least one child. (Economic Policy Institute)
  5. A full time minimum wage workers making $7.25 an hour or $15,080 per year. The federal poverty level for a single parent with one child is $15,825. This means that a single parent does not even meet the federal poverty level if they work 40 hours a week in a minimum wage job. (Economic Policy Institute)
  6. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would effect an estimated 30 million of the 70 million hourly workers. Almost 40% of all hourly workers would get a raise if we lift the minimum wage. (Economic Policy Institute)
  7. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would create an estimated 140,000 net new jobs and add $32 billion dollars to the United States GDP. (Economic Policy Institute)
  8. If the minimum wage had been tied to inflation in 1963, it would be almost double the current federal minimum wage. In 1963 the minimum wage was $1.15 per hour, adjusted for inflation that would be $13.00 per hour.
  9. If the minimum wage had kept up with the increase in worker productivity it would exceed $20 per hour. “Since 1968, however, productivity growth has far outpaced the minimum wage. If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after 1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012”.  (Center for Economic and Policy Research)
  10.  The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour and has not been raised sine 1991. The Harkin/Miller proposal would raise tipped wages by $0.85 cents every year until it reaches 70% of the federal minimum wage.  (Economic Policy Institute)
  11. Increasing the minimum wage does not lead to job losses. This is best explained by a quote from famed economist Paul Krugman: “Now, you might argue that even if the current minimum wage seems low, raising it would cost jobs. But there’s evidence on that question — lots and lots of evidence, because the minimum wage is one of the most studied issues in all of economics. U.S. experience, it turns out, offers many ‘natural experiments’ here, in which one state raises its minimum wage while others do not. And while there are dissenters, as there always are, the great preponderance of the evidence from these natural experiments points to little if any negative effect of minimum wage increases on employment.” Paul Krugman on Feb 2013 (NYTimes)