Metro - February 13, 2013, by Alison Brown - They are working full time, but they are living in poverty. ...
Metro - February 13, 2013, by Alison Brown -
They are working full time, but they are living in poverty.
One day after President Barack Obama said America should not be a place where people working 4o-hour weeks are still in poverty, New York workers said that reality exists all too often.
During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama said a family with two kids earning minimum wage lives below the poverty line.
“That’s wrong,” he said. “In the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.”
Obama suggested raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.
New Yorkers want even more – raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour would give full-time workers an annual salary of $20,000, according to a report released today.
Right now, about 1.7 million New Yorkers are trying to live on about $18,530 for a family of three, according to the report. Meanwhile, unemployment increased from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 9.7 percent now, the report noted.
And more than 110,000 full-time workers live in poverty, according to the report, authored by groups The Center for Popular Democracy and UnitedNY.
Many of these are in the low-wage industry, like car wash workers, who often work more than 60 hours a week but make less than $400 per week.
And some are tasked with important services, like airport screening. The report said a survey of 300 airline employees found them paid barely more than $8 per hour.
Last year, many rallied outside their workplaces, with retail workers standing outside the Fifth Avenue Abercrombie & Fitch to demand higher wages. JFK workers also threatened to strike before the 2012 holiday season. And fast-food employees went on strike in November to demand nearly doubling their salary to $15 an hour.
“You can’t even afford to get sick, “ McDonald’s worker Linda Archer told Metro while striking.
The report referenced the struggle to pay New York City prices on a retail or car-wash paycheck.
“After working as a cashier at Abercrombie & Fitch for over a year, I ended up with an average of just 10 hours per week,” one worker said. “That’s not enough to live on and go to school.”
A car wash worker in the report added, “I came to this ‘land of opportunity’ with so many hopes, but I have become disillusioned about being able to help my family.”
The Village Voice - February 14, 2013, by Jason Lewis - When a worker in this city has to endure a three-hour walk to...
The Village Voice - February 14, 2013, by Jason Lewis - When a worker in this city has to endure a three-hour walk to work because his minimum wage salary doesn't allow for him to afford public transportation, that's a problem.
Low-wage workers across the city have stood up in the past year to demand that such insecurity be eradicated and to pressure employers to finally begin to provide them with just compensation for their labor.
Building on the progress generated by these worker-led movements--in industries such as retail, fast-food, airline security and car washing--UnitedNY, the Center for Popular Democracy and other advocacy groups held a symposium and released a report yesterday analyzing the state of the city's low-wage worker movement.
"It's very difficult to try and make ends meet on $7.25 minimum wage in New York City," Alterique Hall, a worker in the fast-food industry, said during a news conference following the event. "Some nights you want to lay down cry because you [feel] like 'what's the point of going to work and putting all of myself into a job, [if] I'm going to be miserable when I get off work, miserable when I go home...and don't want to wake up and go to work the next day...to get disrespected, treated poorly and paid poorly.'"
Hall, who's been active in the push for fairer wages in the fast-food industry, is the worker who is often forced to embark on the three-hour treks to work. Hall said that his boss will sometimes said him home as a penalty for his tardiness--without considering the ridiculous journey he has to travel just to get to there.
"Working hard, and working as hard as you can, isn't paying off for them," mayoral hopeful and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, said during the news conference. "They're being underemployed, They're being underpaid. They're being taken advantage of. They're being ignored. They're becoming a permanent underclass in the city of New York."
The UnitedNY and CPD report lays out four specific initiatives that workers and advocates must pressure the city to implement in order to help better the plight of low-wage workers. The reports calls on the city and employers to :[Raise] standards for low-wage workers. [Regulate] high-violation industries where labor abuses are rampant. [Establish] a Mayor's Office of Labor Standards to ensure that employment laws are enforced. [Urge] the State to allow NYC to set a minimum wage higher than the State minimum--due to the higher cost of living in the City.
The report pays close attention to the need for City Council to pass the paid sick-leave bill, and increase the minimum wage in the city to $10/hour--a salary that would net a worker with regular hours about $20,000/year in earnings.
"We can't continue to be a Tale of Two Cities, where the path to the middle class keeps fading for thousands of New Yorkers," said New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "We must break the logjam and pass paid sick leave in the City Council. We have to protect low-wage workers fighting union busting employers. We can't tolerate inaction any longer. It's time for real action to fight for working families."
During one of the symposium workshops, a panel of labor experts discussed the obstacles facing low-wage workers in their fight to obtain such rights.
"[We've] shifted from a General Motors economy to a Wal-Mart economy," Dorian Warren, a professor of public affairs at Columbia University, said during the discussion. "[The job market is filled with] part-time jobs, low wages, no benefits, no social contract, no ability to move up in the job the way 20th century workers were able to."
Warren says that the quality of jobs in the American economy will only decline if something isn't done. He noted that 24 percent of jobs were low-wage in 2009. By 2020, that number is expected to nearly double and hit 40 percent. To make matters worse, technological "advances" are expected to increase unemployment rates by 3-5 percent moving forward.
"We're looking at an economy only of low-wage work in the future, but also of high and permanent levels of unemployment," Warren said.
The panel was moderated by acclaimed labor reporter, Steven Greenhouse of the N.Y. Times and included Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, M. Patricia Smith, the solicitor of labor for U.S. Department of Labor and Ana Avendano of the AFL-CIO.
Several panelists stressed the need to combat attacks from right-minded forces seeking to erode worker wage and benefit rights. Falcon says that those fighting for worker rights must correct popular narratives, many of which categorize wage and benefit increases for workers as business-killers.
"When we talk about the minimum wage, the immediate response from business is, we're going to lose jobs because, we're only going to be able to hire a few people. We have to have an answer to that objection," Falcon said. "Through raising the minimum wage, you create job growth in terms of people being able to put more money into the economy. You're [putting] less pressure on social welfare systems...the system is still subsidizing business [when the public provides] welfare and other social services."
Warren* argued a similar point.
"I think we have to be much more explicit about targeting the right the way that they've targeted us. There's a reason why the right has gone after public sector unionism," Warren* said. "They know that's where the heart of the labor movement is in terms of funding and in terms of membership. We have to get smarter about which parts of the right do we target to destroy ideologically, organizationally so that we can advance further our movements."
NY1 - A forum was held Wednesday at the CUNY...
NY1 - A forum was held Wednesday at the CUNY Murphy Institute on a new report by United New York and the Center for Popular Democracy that recommends increasing the city's minimum wage to $10 an hour.
It also calls for earned sick leave, schedule predictability, and passing legislation that allows the city to adjust its own minimum wage above that of the state.
The report focused mostly on service industry jobs.
"This is a moment in New York City where we can finally demand that this be a city that stands up for low-wage workers and doesn't shy away from that role," said Deborah Axt of Make the Road New York.
"If we are to maintain our progressive reputation as the bright shining star, then New York City really needs to claim a lot of the recommendations that came out of this forum here today," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, whose district covers part of Brooklyn.
The report said that the city's unemployment rate rose from 5 to 10 percent since 2007, while its homeless population has doubled since 1992.
It also found that real median income is down $3,000 since 2008.
The left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Federal Reserve...
The left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Federal Reserve, seeking to shine light on the central bank’s president selection process.
The lawsuit, filed under the Freedom of Information Act, is a product of the “Fed Up” campaign to strip private bankers’ influence from the Fed’s top rungs and increase transparency in its leadership selection. The suit was filed after the Fed ignored a FOIA request filed in August seeking information on president selections in 2015 and 2016, the group said.
“The leaders of the twelve Reserve Banks are among the most powerful and influential actors in shaping the nation’s monetary policies, yet the process by which they are chosen is completely non-transparent,” the group wrote in the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The lawsuit comes as Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, prepares to leave the bank in February.
“The public has a right to obtain records about how the Federal Reserve’s leaders are selected, and there is no justification for the Fed’s withholding of basic information about its governance,” said Connie Chan, an attorney representing Fed Up, in a statement. “The fact that Fed Up has to bring this FOIA lawsuit is itself further evidence of the Fed’s lack of transparency.”
By Tara Jeffries
After nearly two months on the job, the new head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is reaching out to the community...
After nearly two months on the job, the new head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is reaching out to the community — to bunch of community, labor and consumer organizations that have repeatedly asked to be heard.
Dallas Fed president Rob Kaplan tomorrow will met with a variety of representatives of the national Fed Up Coalition for about 90 minutes, according to the regional bank.
The group was unhappy with the Dallas Fed’s “cryptic” search process to replace replaced former chief Richard Fisher, who retired in March, and with its lack of transparency. I wrote about it. Fed Up members in Texas and nationwide also have called for Federal Reserve to focus on full employment and higher wages for blacks and others in poor neighborhoods who have been left out of the economic recovery.
In August, the Dallas Fed named Kaplan, a former Harvard business professor and investment banker, as president and CEO starting Sept. 8. As one of 12 Fed regional bank presidents around the country, Kaplan helps set the nation’s economic and monetary policy, such as interest rates, that affects people everywhere.
The day after Kaplan’s announcement, the Texas Organizing Project’s Dallas County director Brianna Brown suggested that one of the first things he should do when he got to Dallas was to meet with her group and working families in the area. I wrote about that.
Earlier this year, the Texas Organizing Project and Fed Up asked to meet with Dallas Fed board members to seek more openness and participation in the search process. The Dallas Fed also has faced criticism from other corners for a lack of transparency and the lengthiness (nine months) of its search.
The coalition’s request was denied back then, and instead a meeting was arranged with the bank’s general counsel and senior vice president.
Now, there’s another chance.
“We want to represent the coalition in the same way that the coalition has met with other Fed presidents around the country to encourage them to keep interest rates low to help people in the communities,” Brown said today. “We’re trying to figure out a way that the coalition can be part of the process around Fed policy. How we can collaborate and work together.”
Brown said it’s not a “pie-in-the-sky” idea. She noted that a Fed Up meeting with Chicago Fed president Charles Evans led to him touring a low-income neighborhood in September.
Nearly a dozen people representing Fed Up will attend tomorrow’s meeting at the Dallas Fed. They include: Brown; representatives of the Dallas AFL-CIO, Texas AFL-CIO, Center for Popular Democracy and Economic Policy Institute; Dallas Faith leader Wes Helm; and a Walmart worker. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins also will attend as a guest of Fed Up, said Daniel Barrera, a Dallas organizer for the Texas Organizing Project.
Jenkins and John Patrick, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, did not end up attending the meeting. I wrote a follow-up story on Nov. 5 about the results of the meeting.
The Dallas Fed will have four people present: Kaplan, senior vice president Alfreda Norman, community development officer Roy Lopez and spokesman James Hoard .
“We want to obviously listen to what they have to say, provide any information and answer any questions they have,” Hoard said today about the meeting.
Source: The Dallas Morning News