New report: The State of Working New Orleans

In 2016, visitors to New Orleans spent $7.41 billion in our city, an increase of 5.1% over the previous year, which had also broken records. We also hosted a record number of visitors – nearly 10.5 million people came to enjoy all New Orleans has to offer. But New Orleans workers are left out of this success. Low wages predominate across sectors of the economy – from accommodation and food service, to retail, healthcare, education, and construction.

In a new report, The State of Working New Orleans – the Industries that Sustain the Status Quo, the WJP builds a picture of the poverty among working people in New Orleans and sets out recommendations for the next mayor to raise the living and working standards for ALL New Orleans residents.

Read the full report here The State of Working New Orleans

 

Mayor Landrieu Signs Living Wage Ordinance for New Orleans City Contract Workers

On August 18, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law a new living wage ordinance for New Orleans’ city contractors and financial assistance recipients.

“If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” Landrieu said.

The ordinance was sponsored by Councilmember Jared Brossett. It will apply to city contractors with contracts worth at least $25,000 and to companies or organizations that receive more than $100,000 in financial assistance from the city, including subsidies and tax breaks, over a 12-month period. Covered businesses must also provide workers with seven days of paid sick leave annually.

Read more here: http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/13205062-123/landrieu-signs-living-wage-ordinance

Why struggles for criminal justice and living wage are uniting

“Black Lives Matter” doesn’t just refer to cops killing unarmed teens. Here’s why it’s expanding to mean much more. Black poverty is state violence, too. 

“For the second time in a week, the swelling protests against police brutality and an unequal criminal justice system coincided with planned labor strikes at low-wage employers yesterday, and for the second time, protesters joined forces, combining the struggle for a living wage with the struggle for the right to live free of police violence.

Members of Show Me $15 in North St. Louis (Credit: David Nehrt-Flores)

Members of Show Me $15 in North St. Louis (Credit: David Nehrt-Flores)

“Convenience store workers, airport workers, and home care workers joined the actions calling for $15 an hour and a union, broadening the movement still more, but what really gave Thursday its kick was the connection to the emotions (and tactics) of Ferguson activists and their nationwide supporters. Robinson and his fellow workers staged a “die-in” as part of their day of actions, in a North St. Louis convenience store, their bodies stretched between metal racks of chips and candy, clogging the space in an echo both of historic sit-down strikes (that Walmart workers also evoked two weeks back) and a reminder of the way Brown’s body lay in the street for four and a half hours after he was shot.

“Labor struggles have a long, checkered history with struggles for racial justice and particularly against violence. Black workers’ unions were central to the Civil Rights movement… Their struggle—remember the “I Am a Man” signs carried by the workers in Memphis—was always about more than just wages. It was and is about being seen as humans worthy of respect, respect they would demand if it was not freely given.”

Read more from Salon 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.

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.

The Fortune 500 can easily afford to give low-wage workers a healthy raise

If you went to your child’s nursery school and saw one toddler with 300 toys while most—including your own—only had one or two to play with, what would you think?

hoarding toys (image credit: nottheitgirls.com)

hoarding toys (image credit: nottheitgirls.com)

“This ugly picture is an apt metaphor for the pay practices at many of the largest U.S. companies today. While low-wage earners suffer most, there’s growing evidence that low pay harms almost everyone, hurts corporate profits over the long term, and stifles economic growth. But could U.S. companies afford to pay more – could they invest dollars in workers today — in order to reap longer term gains?

“A look at Fortune 500 data suggests that the largest U.S. corporations could improve the economy, their bottom lines, and the lot of millions of workers by increasing the wages they pay their employees… Nearly 85% of Fortune 500 companies with positive income could have paid every single worker $10,400 more and still finished 2013 in the black.”

Read more from the Fortune Magazine 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

The Minimum Wage Loophole for Waiters and Waitresses

“As it stands, only seven states require employers to pay tipped workers the same minimum wage as nontipped workers. The federal minimum wage for the latter is $7.25, but the federal minimum wage for tipped workers has remained stagnate at $2.13 since 1991, with no adjustment for inflation. Employers are supposed to make up the difference if tipped workers aren’t earning the regular minimum wage through their tips, but it doesn’t always happen. The Economic Policy Institute found in 2011 that tipped workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to fall under the federal poverty line.

tip-map_2

“The Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which Obama endorsed, would have gradually raised tipped workers’ minimum wage to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. But the bill has faced steep opposition from Republicans and the restaurant lobby. According to Open Secrets, the National Restaurant Association, which opposed the minimum-wage hike, spent more than $2.2 million on lobbying last year.”

Read more here

After Push by Obama, Minimum-Wage Action Is Moving to the States

 

““Nobody who works full time should be raising a family in poverty,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday as he campaigned for the minimum-wage increase in Michigan, where a coalition of labor and other groups is trying to collect signatures to force action by the Legislature or put the issue to voters in the fall.

“Mr. Obama praised the efforts of the states to raise their own wages. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island increased their minimum wages in 2013, while Delaware, West Virginia and the District of Columbia did the same this year, researchers at the National Conference of State Legislatures said. In addition to the efforts in Michigan, advocates in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico and South Dakota are all trying to push the issue with voters this fall, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.”

There is also an ongoing effort in Louisiana to enact a minimum wage. Currently Louisiana has no minimum wage.

Read the full NY Times article here.