ALEC and the Minimum Wage

ALEC and the Minimum Wage
By Seth Sandronsky

The American Legislative Exchange Council is against raising the
minimum hourly wage. We turn to Missouri’s statehouse. Lawmakers there
passed bills barring every past and future law to hike the minimum
wage recently.

“By enacting legislation today to prohibit all past and future local
minimum wage laws in Missouri, the Missouri state legislature dealt a
blow to democracy and workers in the state,” said Christine Owens,
executive director at the National Employment Law Project.
“Legislators have stripped Missouri communities of their long-standing
rights and taken away all hope for cities like St. Louis of addressing
low wages that deny people the opportunity to support themselves
through work.”

Missouri’s anti-minimum wage legislation mirrors a bill that Iowa
state lawmakers passed. In Iowa, that bill reverses local minimum wage
hikes that counties approved, while prohibiting cities and counties
from changing the standards for wages and benefits.

What is going on, and why? According to the NELP, state legislatures
are responding to popular sentiments to increase minimum wage rates.
Over 40 cities and counties have enacted increased minimum wages.
However, 24 states have approved laws to roll back these minimum wage
increases. Continue reading

Historic Minimum Wage Hike in California

raisewagecityhallSteven Mikalan
(updated) March 31.
California is on track to become the first state to officially raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. On March 31, California’s official celebration of labor leader Cesar Chavez, Democratic legislators agreed to raise the wage from its current $10 hourly mark to $10.50 beginning January 1, 2017, followed by continuous upticks that will result in the wage leveling off at $15 an hour by 2022. (Businesses employing fewer than 26 workers would get an extra year to institute the increases.) Governor Jerry Grown has said he will sign the bill  on Monday.
After that the minimum can rise – but not fall – according to inflation. The agreement includes a provision giving workers three days of paid sick leave annually; it also permits California governors to freeze the wage in times of extreme economic downturn.
The movement toward a $15 wage has not followed a straight line, with individual city electorates or governments passing ordinances raising local wages higher than the state minimum (which cities will still be allowed to do under the proposed law), but making little headway outside of California’s liberal coastal belt. The issue has recently been complicated by the emergence of two competing union-sponsored measures that have sought placement on this November’s state ballot.
At a media teleconference held Monday afternoon, labor leaders and others hailed the coming pay hike.
“No one who works hard should live in poverty,” said the event’s moderator, Laphonza Butler, who serves as both president of the Service Employees International Union’s state council and as co-chair of the Los Angeles Fight for $15 committee. And, in a sign that labor is not taking its apparent victory for granted, she added that until the legislation passes, unions would not cease their efforts to put the matter of raising the wage before voters. Continue reading

San Francisco Workers Aim High Nation’s Top Minimum Wage

by Carl Finamore

On the steps of City Hall (photo: Carl Finamore)

On the steps of City Hall (photo: Carl Finamore)

In a very unusual political combination seldom seen nowadays, San Francisco’s mayor, city officials, business, community and labor leaders have jointly agreed to place a proposition on the November ballot that will give a big raise to virtually all low-wage full time, part time, sub contract and temporary workers of big and small businesses alike.

San Francisco already has the country’s highest minimum wage which currently stands at $10.74.

But, if this proposal gets approved this Fall as expected, an estimated 100,000 workers will get an extra boost after six months to $12.25 an hour with additional annual increases until the minimum wage finally jumps to $15 an hour in July 2018.
Continue reading

“People Make Up Our City”: Why Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Is a Sign of Things to Come

by Amy B. Dean

Activists at an April demonstration demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle  (15 Now Seattle)

Activists at an April demonstration demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle (15 Now Seattle)

For 100,000 working people in Seattle, a newly passed citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour will mean an increased standard of living – and recognition of their contributions to the local economy. “It’s going to help me and a lot of other people,” said Crystal Thompson, 33, a Dominos Pizza customer service representative who currently earns the city minimum wage of $9.32 per hour. “They [the corporations] have been making money off us. I’ve had the same job for five years and [am] still making minimum wage. I open and close the store. I pretty much run the store and do manager shifts and still get paid minimum wage.”

The basic argument behind these campaigns is that a person working full-time shouldn’t have to live in poverty, a precept that has been popularly accepted.

While Seattle is often associated with technology-driven firms such as Microsoft and Amazon, service workers like Thompson provide a critical backbone for the area economy – a trend that also holds nationally. Over the past 20 years, community and labor organizations have united in a living wage movement to raise the floor for these employees and to make sure that prosperity is widely shared throughout the economy. Even as efforts to increase the minimum wage nationally have encountered resistance in Congress, this movement has made great strides at the local and regional levels.

The Seattle victory – part of the national Fight for 15 drive – represents the latest landmark achievement for living wage advocates. The efforts to secure the win over past months, as well as ongoing efforts to protect it from state-level attacks, hold important lessons for the rest of the country.
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The Minimum Wage is Really an Efficiency Wage

by Oren Levin-Waldman

Oren Levin -Waldman

Oren Levin-Waldman

Market Purists are steadfast in their belief that increasing the minimum wage will lead to lower employment. The standard textbook model holds that as workers lower their wage demands, employers will demand more of their services. A wage floor only prevents workers from accepting lower wages in exchange for opportunities to work. Therefore, fewer workers will be hired, with the result being lower employment. But opponents of minimum wage increases are only citing half of the model.

What the model really says is that a minimum wage if it is effective will do either one of two things: it will either result in the layoff of those workers whose value is less than the minimum or it will result in an increase in productivity among low-efficiency workers. Of course, one way to increase efficiency would be to substitute technology for low-skilled workers. But given that most low-skilled workers are concentrated in the fast-food and retail sectors, that option may have limitations. Another way to increase productivity is for employers to invest in the human capital of their workers by providing them with the type of training that will enable them to become more productive.

Continue reading

“Raise the Federal Minimum Wage” Resolution Adopted at National Jewish Communal Affairs Gathering in Atlanta

Jewish Labor Committee

hhttps://i2.wp.com/engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/images/Homepage/povertygrey.jpg New York — The Jewish Labor Committee is pleased to report that a resolution we cosponsored in support of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10, as well as raising the wage of tipped workers, was passed by an overwhelming majority of 250 delegates, from 60 groups across the United States, at the annual conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, meeting two week ago in Atlanta, GA.

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, noted that passage of the resolution on raising the Federal minimum wage is part of a broader campaign that must be waged community by community, and across the United States.

Continue reading

The Social Costs of Paying Low Wages

Oren Levin -Waldman

Oren Levin -Waldman

The recent release of the Congressional Budget Office’s report that an increase in the minimum wage could lead to a loss of as much as one million jobs by 2016 has created quite a stir. Those on the right hailed it as proof that an increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea precisely because we are still plagued by long-term unemployment. Meanwhile, those on left hailed the report as a vindication that the minimum wage would result in at least 16 million Americans getting a raise, which in turn would benefit the economy through increased spending.

On one level, the controversy over the CBO report only highlights the narrowness of the minimum wage debate to date: adverse employment effects v. anti-poverty benefits. But on another level, it is typical of the type of cost-benefit calculus, which itself is too narrow. The only costs really considered are employment, specifically among low-skilled workers. Meanwhile, the only real benefits considered are those that accrue to the low-wage labor market earning either the minimum wage or wages around the minimum. And yet, there is a broader calculus that needs to be taken if we as a political community truly seek to formulate policy that truly reflects the collective will of the people. Continue reading