Where To Shop To Support Workers This Black Friday

About one in four American workers will have to go to work this year on a holiday, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day. Given that no American worker gets the guarantee that they can take a paid holiday off, their options are limited. Employees at Kmart and Target even tell ThinkProgress that they aren’t allowed to ask for holidays off and face being fired if they don’t come in.

CREDIT: ADAM PECK/THINKPROGRESS

CREDIT: ADAM PECK/ THINKPROGRESS

But consumers have options about whether or not to support stores that open. While 12 brands have decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, requiring millions of workers to miss out on time with friends and family, 18 others have decided to stay closed. Follow this link to read more from Think Progress.

$10.10 for Louisiana is Fair

“In his 2015 budget presentation to the New Orleans City Council this month, Mayor Mitch Landrieu introduced a minimum wage hike for city employees that would bring them to the $10.10 figure — which, if approved, will add $596,000 to the proposed $537 million budget. Last month Landrieu signed his name to a letter addressed to Congress supporting passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would set the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour. 

“But if it’s good enough for New Orleans city employees, why not the rest of us? Unfortunately, no Louisiana city can make that change because Louisiana law forbids municipal governments from setting their own minimum wage. The New Orleans City Council passed a resolution in January urging Gov. Bobby Jindal and state legislators to raise the minimum wage statewide, but it was largely a symbolic act. This year, then-State Rep. Jared Brossett’s bill to make the state minimum wage $10.10 an hour was rejected in committee, as was another proposal to let local governments set alternative minimum wages.

Poll-Results

“Any change in the state or local minimum wage, therefore, will have to come at the federal level. A $10.10 minimum wage would mean a pay raise for more than 500,000 workers in Louisiana. The Louisiana Budget Project (LBP) estimates a higher minimum wage would pump $689 million into the state’s sluggish economy by giving workers more spending power. Critics of a higher minimum wage say it would discourage employers and lower employment, while the LBP cites the example of Oregon, which lured eager Idaho workers with a minimum wage of nearly $2 per hour more. Both sides can point to statistics, but it’s worth noting that states with no minimum wage laws, like Louisiana, are some of the poorest in the nation — and the most dependent on federal aid.”

Read more in the Gambit here

Low-Wage Workers Demand $15 Wage in Several Protests

Last Thursday, protestors “took to the streets in New York, Washington and Phoenix to draw attention to their campaign to change labor practices in retailing and other low-wage industries like fast-food restaurants. By not paying their workers a living wage, the activists say, such businesses squeeze the very people they hope to sell to.

“I can’t afford anything,” said LaRanda Jackson, 20, who earns $8.75 an hour working on the sales floor at a Walmart in Cincinnati. “Sometimes I can’t afford soap, toothpaste, tissue. Sometimes I have to go without washing my clothes.”

Fourteen Walmart employees and 12 others were arrested and charged with civil disobedience Thursday. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Fourteen Walmart employees and 12 others were arrested and charged with civil disobedience Thursday. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

“Ms. Jackson was among 14 Walmart employees and 12 others who were arrested and charged with civil disobedience Thursday after staging a protest outside the Manhattan residence of Alice Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune, demanding that Walmart set a base pay of $15 for all its workers — much like the demands of the fast-growing movement of fast-food workers.” Read more by Hiroko Tabuchi and Steven Greenhouse of the NY Times here.

Tipped subminimum wage leads to more sexual harassment

“Workers who rely on tips to make a living experience twice as much sexual harassment as those earning minimum wage. Laws that allow employers to pay tipped workers below the minimum wage lead to increased sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a new report, which shows that female restaurant workers who virtually live off tips are in a ‘uniquely vulnerable position.’

Help Wanted: Sexual Harassment and the Restaurant Industry

Help Wanted: Sexual Harassment and the Restaurant Industry 

Glass floor, a term coined by ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Commission), refers to a system that exacerbates the already poor job security of low-wage workers by layering on a sexualized atmosphere. If workers feel expendable at their workplace, they are more likely to ignore sexual harassment, the report said. Researchers found that tipped workers in states where subminimum wage is permissible are three times as likely to be told to wear sexier or more revealing clothing than those where such payment practices are barred. The United States is the only industrialized democracy that has a two-tiered minimum wage.” Read more here.  

Wage Theft Costing Low-Income Workers Billions

“Nearly $1 billion was recovered in 2012 by lawyers or regulatory agencies acting on behalf of workers who were paid below minimum wage, not paid for overtime or other wage and hour violations, according to a first-time analysis conducted by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. And the problem is growing, EPI analysts say.

$15

Even with these efforts by lawmakers and labor groups, “I think wage theft is increasing,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president at EPI and one of the authors of the new study. “There really is not much state local or federal enforcement going on, particularly in the low-wage industries where you’re not going to get attorneys to bring those cases.”

“The money recovered is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. The EPI report says if the 2009 study were extrapolated to the entire country’s low-wage labor market, wage theft could cost workers more than $50 billion every year.

Read more from NBC News here

America Has More Low-Paying Jobs Than Any Other Developed Country

“The U.S. has more low-paying jobs than any other country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an economic group of 34 developed countries, according to a research note released by Morgan Stanley on Monday. The OECD defines “low-paying” as jobs that earn less than two-thirds of a country’s median income. On average, around 16 percent of jobs in OECD countries are considered low-paying. In the U.S., over 25 percent of all jobs qualify as such.”

Source: OECD Employment Outlook 2013, Morgan Stanley Reports

“The ranking reflects America’s problem with income equality. Even though the U.S. has one of the highest household median incomes in the world (about $44,000 compared to roughly $10,000 worldwide), there’s a wide gulf between those making much more than the median income and those making much less. According to the Morgan Stanley economists, income inequality is stifling U.S. economic growth because low-income Americans aren’t able to spend enough to boost the greater economy.” Read more here or here.

N.J. woman with three jobs eulogized as face of low-wage worker

“A New Jersey woman died earlier this week trying to catch a few hours of sleep between jobs, a chilling reminder of the struggle low-wage workers, particularly women, face making ends meet. Fernandes worked at multiple Dunkin’ Donuts locations. Dunkin’ Donuts confirmed that the outlets where she worked were owned by different franchisees and that the different owners didn’t know she was working at multiple restaurants. Fernandes worked as little as 10 hours a week at one franchise and as many as 40 hours a week at another.” With a minimum wage of $8.25/hour in New Jersey, full time work at 40 hours a week would gross an employee $330. 

“It is a very sad story and really tragic, and it shines a light on what is a real problem, particularly for low-wage workers, today,” said Elizabeth Watson, senior counsel and director of workplace justice for women at the National Women’s Law Center.

working-poor

“Fernandes, 32, died while napping in a parking lot in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on Aug. 25. She was apparently overcome by fumes from a gas can she kept in her car to be sure she wouldn’t run out of fuel on her way to her part-time shifts at Dunkin’ Donuts stores in three different New Jersey towns.”

Read more about this story and why American women make up a large percentage of the U.S. low-wage and part-time workforce here or here

How feel-good companies are navigating the minimum-wage fray

“Companies that wish to project a progressive image for their brands for being environmentally friendly or supporting organic farming represent an equally important social barometer for pay equity,” says Michael Santoro, professor of business ethics at Rutgers University.

Robert Caplin | Bloomberg | Getty Images Workers fill orders inside a Starbucks in New York, U.S.

Robert Caplin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Workers fill orders inside a Starbucks in New York, U.S.

 

“Can brands that cater to conscious consumerism extend their value proposition to help workers earn a living wage?” asks Santoro, who wrote about the widening disconnect between Main Street and Wall Street in his book, “Wall Street Values.” He added, “The days of grooving to your iPhone and not caring that a worker manufactured that phone in a substandard factory are over.”

Read more here

The Corporate Crusade Against Low-Wage Workers

“Wage theft is just one of a variety of weapons that private-sector businesses have deployed in order to cheat workers and maximize profits. Other tools include public policy instruments like so-called right to work laws that hamper union organizing; threats of deportation to keep unauthorized immigrant workers from asserting their rights; and lobbying to carve out loopholes in new worker-protection laws, among other devices.

Photo: Light Brigading / Flickr

Photo: Light Brigading / Flickr

“For the past few years, in metro regions and states, workers and their communities have galvanized around the problem of wage theft, standing together to sue and win back money that rightfully belongs to the workers who earned it and the local communities where they spend their paychecks. Additionally, low-wage and immigrant workers are seeking relief from abusive and exploitative working conditions by expanding the laws that defend their interests—raising the minimum wage, creating stiffer penalties for wage theft, and instituting paid sick days and other basic workplace protections. Their grassroots organizing—sometimes, but not always, conducted in partnership with unions—has been effective, and a growing number of cities and states are passing these new laws.”

Read more here.