Posts tagged Labor
Posts tagged Labor
Low wage workers rally in national call to #RaisetheWage
July 25, 2013
"Let’s get better wages in this country!" was the rallying cry Wednesday as workers nationwide took to the streets in demonstrations marking the four year anniversary since the last time the federal minimum wage was raised.
Currently set at $7.25 an hour, the national wage hasn’t had a boost since July 24, 2009 when President George W. Bush increased it from $6.55. Despite skyrocketing costs of living, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage is only making roughly $15,000 per year—far below a living wage in most parts of the country.
In honor of this ‘dispiriting anniversary,’—asHuffington Post’s Dave Jamieson writes—labor groups supporting a minimum wage boost have called for a National Day of Action with planned demonstrations in an estimated 30 cities across the country.
In Pittsburgh, protesters have reportedly shut down the street outside of a Target in the East Liberty section of the city. Other rallies are being held outside of a downtown McDonald’s and on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, among other locations throughout the city.
"Tell Panera bread we can’t live on bread alone," one protester, Pastor Battle, said before an assembled group.
Under the banner Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of groups are staging rallies outside the locations of 13 employers of low-wage workers throughout the New England state including Wal-Mart, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Papa John’s. Advocates are calling for a gradual increase of the wage from $8 to $11 by 2015 and are also pushing for paid sick leave for all workers.
Demonstrators in Cleveland are marching on a local Wal-Mart at noon on Wednesday.
"It is not ‘a Wal-Mart action,’ ‘It’s a ‘let’s get better wages in this country action,’" said rally organizer Pamela Rosado, who added that Wal-Mart was chosen because it is the top low-wage employer in the country.
"The problem is that these jobs don’t help people to meet their basic needs—not wants and desires or trying to keep up with the Joneses," she added. “We’re talking about basic needs: shelter, food, clothing and transportation."
Elsewhere, restaurant chains affiliated with the National Restaurant Association—or “the other NRA” as PR Watch’s Mary Bottari quips—will be receiving “surprise visits” by members of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) to protest the restaurant industry’s coordinated campaign to pass laws preempting local ordinances on worker wages and sick day benefits.
Throughout cities and communities across the country, thousands are expected to hit the streets today in similar demonstrations. A list of other actions is available on the National Employment Law Project (NELP) website.
National labor organizations such as NELP and SEIU are pushing for passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015. A new poll released Wednesday by NELP found that 80 percent of Americans support this increase.
Despite the national consensus, bills pushing to raise the minimum wage have largely stalled in the House and Senate.
During his 2008 campaign, President Obama stumped for hiking the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and tying it to inflation in perpetuity. During his State of the Union address earlier this year, he amended that to a lesser goal of $9.00 per hour.
If no wage increase becomes law during his second term, he will become the first president since Ronald Reagan who didn’t raise the minimum wage at all.
When there’s a fee to get your pay: Pre-paid payroll card fees mean paying up for getting paid
June 25, 2013
In the years since the financial crisis struck in 2008, it’s often been pointed out that gains for bankers have gone hand in hand with losses for workers. But few cases provide a better example of just how direct that relationship can be than that of Natalie Gunshannon, who says her employer put her in a situation that forced her to pay fees to one of the big banks just to access her wages.
Gunshannon, of Dallas Township, Penn., filed a class action lawsuit this week against a McDonald’s franchise where she worked, claiming that she and other workers were paid not through check or direct deposit, but through a pre-paid JPMorgan Chase debit card. Along with her card, her lawsuit alleges, she received a list of fees she’d incur when she used it: $1.50 for ATM withdrawals; $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals; $1 per balance inquiry; 75 cents for online bill pay and $15 if she lost the card or had it stolen from her.
“I need to receive all the money I earn,” Gunshannon, who was being paid around $7.44 an hour,told a local newspaper. “I can’t afford to lose even a few dollars per paycheck. I just think people should be paid fairly and not have to pay fees to get their wages.”
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Mike Cefalo of Cefalo & Associates and provided to In These Times by the firm, alleges that the cards violate the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act, which provides that “Wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check.” The suit further alleges that the fees reduce the actual wages workers receive—in some cases bringing them below minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania remains at the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour.
The lawsuit also notes that managerial employees were paid by regular direct deposit; only hourly workers were stuck with the cards and the fees.
In a statement, Albert and Carol Mueller, the owners of the McDonald’s in question, said that they could not comment on the case, and added, “We are committed to providing them the best possible work environment so [employees] can deliver the fast, reliable service that our customers expect.” (McDonald’s Corporation did not return a request for comment.)
These “payroll cards,” which after being loaded with wages work like a regular debit card, are growing increasingly popular as companies look for alternatives to paper checks and payroll services. Like most debit cards, payroll cards can be used to purchase goods, or they can be used to make withdrawals from banks or ATMs. JPMorgan Chase is one of several banking companies, including Bank of America and U.S. Bank, that offer them.
JPMorgan’s website touts its “Prepaid Card Solutions” as an efficient and cost-effective way to pay employees, calling them a “direct deposit alternative for unbanked and underserved employees.” Cost-effective, apparently, for the employer—who transfers the cost of the service to the workers themselves. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the government office founded by Elizabeth Warren to inform consumers of their rights when dealing with financial products—explains, employers make arrangements with the financial institution as to the terms of the cards, including “any fees that may be charged to [the employee].”
According to the CFPB, employers “typically” offer the card as one of several payment options and advise employees who opt for the payroll card to read the terms and conditions carefully. But according to Gunshannon’s lawsuit, when she asked if she could be paid another way, she was told, “If you don’t activate the card, there is no way for us to pay you.” She quit, and called a lawyer.
And the highest paid public employee in your state is…
Italy to join Greece, Portugal and Spain in European mega strike
November 8, 2012
Italy will join Greece, Spain and Portugal in holding strikes against austerity on November 14 in an unprecedented show of co-ordinated action on the continent.
The decision to take a four hour strike was announced Monday night by Italy’s largest trade union confederation, CGIL, which stated:
‘For many years, the European trade union movement deplores austerity measures…They are dragging Europe down into economic stagnation and recession. This results in stunted growth and unemployment that continues to increase.’
‘Cuts in wages and social protection are attacks on the European social model and exacerbate inequality and social injustice.
‘The ‘errors of judgment’ of the International Monetary Fund have had an incalculable impact on the daily lives of workers and citizens. The whole basis of the policies of austerity has to be revisited. The IMF must apologize. And the Troika must revise its demands.”
‘Twenty five million Europeans are out of work. In some countries the youth unemployment rate exceeds 50%.
‘The sense of injustice is widespread and social discontent is growing.”
‘We need to change direction towards a European social pact. The European trade unions are calling for a change of course.”
The European Trade Union Confederation, which has called a day of action on November 14, has been campaigning for economic policies that stimulates quality employment, ‘solidarity’ between countries and social justice.
‘It is time to end tax evasion, tax havens and tax competition between countries. A financial transaction tax should help repair the damage of unregulated capitalism,’ the CGIL added.
The CGIL’s strike was also called in opposition to a fresh set if austerity measures and neo-liberal reforms recently unveiled by the government of unelected prime minister and former Goldman Sachs advisor Mario Monti.
Spain and Portugal are planning on holding a second wave of general strikes on November 14 while Greece, Malta and Cyprus are also planning strike action on the day.
Its been a long road fighting for safer working conditions, fair wages and respect. Today we had enough of the retaliation against us for speaking out. Today we strike to make a change for our families and our communities.
Here is an excerpt from our press release:
“Workers at Walmart’s largest distribution center went on strike today to protest illegal retaliation and other labor abuses.
“This comes just days after workers at the California warehouse that supplies Walmart stores walked off the job to protest illegal retaliation and poor working conditions.”
We need your support now more than ever. Please sign our petition to Walmart CEO Michael Duke.
For those of you in the Chicago area, we’d like to invite you to join us on the strike line at 26453 Center Point Drive, Elwood, IL. Please also consider donating to our strike fund.
Here’s a little more background:
On Thursday September 13, workers for Walmart contractor Roadlink Workforce Solutions filed a lawsuit for non-payment for all hours worked, paying less than the minimum wage and non-payment of overtime worked. Shortly thereafter, intimidation and retaliations against workers escalated.
This comes just days after warehouse workers in Southern California walked off the job to protest their employers, NFI and Warestaff, for retaliation. The California workers also move Walmart goods. Follow this link for more information about the Southern California strike by workers at Walmart warehouses.
Walmart has been harshly criticized for the legal violations of its contractors and towards its store associates. In California, contractors at warehouses serving Walmart were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations of workers’ rights and a federal judge issued several orders and injunctions in favor of the workers, including an injunction stop the mass firing of workers who had filed the lawsuit. In Illinois, a total of six lawsuits have been filed against contractors operating in the Walmart warehouse for labor violations.
We thank you for your support as we struggle to make our warehouses a safer and better place to work.
Tens of thousands of teachers, students, parents, and supporters march through downtown Chicago after Day 1 of a 28,000-strong teachers strike across the entire public school system. (9/10/12)
“Frantic wives searched for missing loved ones, President Jacob Zuma rushed home from a regional summit and some miners vowed a fight to the death Friday as police finally announced the toll from the previous day’s shooting by officers of striking platinum miners: 34 dead and 78 wounded.
Police Chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega said that Thursday was a dark day for South Africa and no time for pointing fingers, as people compared the shootings to apartheid-era state violence and political parties and labor unions demanded an investigation. Phiyega took over in June after two police commissioners were indicted for corruption and other charges. She already had her work cut out trying to reform a corrupt and scandal-ridden force.
Thursday’s shootings are seen as a microcosm of the myriad problems facing South Africa 18 years after white racist rule ended, including growing inequality between a white minority joined by a small black elite while most blacks endure high unemployment and inadequate housing, health care and education.”
— The Washington Post, “Official Says South Africa Police Killed 34 Attacking Miners In Strike” (via inothernews)