Elizabeth Warren on Jobs
Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB
I'm pretty hard-core about this issue. The way I see it, no one in this country should work full-time and still love in poverty--period. But at $7.25 an hour, a mom working a forty-hour-a-week minimum-wage job cannot keep herself and her baby above the poverty line. This is wrong--and this was something the U. S. Congress could make better if we'd just raise the minimum wage. We could fix this now.
How does the guy in the stockroom sign up for auto-repair classes at a nearby vo-tech school if McDonald's won't give him his schedule more than a week in advance? Working two or three jobs is an economic necessity for them as they try to support their families, but with shifting hours in most places, it's hard for them to piece together schedules that will let them show up when called. Some say they look for all-night cleaning jobs so they can have their days free to take second and third jobs.
For decades, Republicans had been fighting unions on virtually every issue that touched working people--the minimum wage, paid family leave, fair scheduling laws, access to affordable health care, Medicaid, Medicare, and on and on. Republicans had also assaulted unions head-on by trying to shut down the National Labor Relations Board, which deals with companies that violate labor laws, and by attacking the Department of Labor's efforts to protect unions.
And there was another ugly problem: Guess who picked the regulators who had oversight responsibility for the individual banks? Often it was the banks themselves. The results shouldn't have surprised anyone: regulators often tried to outdo each other to be the friendliest, which shifted their role from watchdog to lapdog.
So credit regulation was a tangled mess, and enforcement was spotty at best. We needed an agency--one agency--that would be responsible for writing new rules, for updating the rules as lenders changed their practices, and for enforcing the rules. [That became the CFPA, Consumer Finance Protection Agency, chaired by Warren].
Often enough during the campaign, I would hear the phrase "corporate and labor influence in politics," as if "corporate" and "labor" were somehow two sides of the same coin. Really? Does anyone believe that an army of lobbyists fighting for tax loopholes and special breaks for one corporation is the same as the unions fighting for Social Security and equal pay?
She continues: "Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."
Congressional summary: Increases the federal minimum wage for employees to:
Proponent's argument in favor (RaiseTheMinimumWage.com): The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour remains decades out of date, and the federal minimum wage for tipped workers--$2.13 per hour--has not increased in over 20 years. The minimum wage of the past provided significantly more buying power than it does today. The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation.
Opponent's argument against: (Neil King in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2014): The CBO concluded that a jump in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could eliminate 500,000 jobs. For Republicans, the report provided ammunition that a higher minimum wage would kill jobs. Democrats pointed to the CBO's findings that the higher wage would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. But both sides missed a key finding: That a smaller hike from the current $7.25 to $9.00 an hour would cause almost no pain, and still lift 300,000 people out of poverty while raising the incomes of 7.6 million people.
Congressional Budget Office report: Once fully implemented, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3%. Some people earning slightly more than $10.10 would also have higher earnings, due to the heightened demand for goods and services. The increased earnings for low-wage workers would total $31 billion. Accounting for all increases and decreases, overall real income would rise by $2 billion.
Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Compass Group: Senate cafeteria workers are currently pushing for a union through the majority sign up process, but their employer, the Compass Group, has resisted the drive, even after the NLRB upheld charges against the company regarding discriminatory behavior. Although the Compass Group promised the NRLB they would end further unlawful intimidation, the Compass Group has discouraged their organizing campaign.
We request there that the Compass Group commit to reaching an agreement with the union seeking to organize these workers, and recognize the union as the worker's exclusive bargaining representative on the basis of majority representation of signed authorization cards.
OnTheIssues explanation: At issue is how the workers would unionize: the controversial aspect is the "majority of authorization cards," known as "card-check," which makes unionization much more likely.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Labor's Day is Over," Sep. 6/2009): Card-check would effectively abolish the secret ballot in workplace elections for union representation. It would also require employers to submit to binding government arbitration if they cannot reach an agreement with union representatives, forcing companies to submit to contracts that may imperil their very survival.
Opposing freedom argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Card Checks Block Free Choice," Feb. 21, 2007): Union activists argue that publicly signing a union membership card in the presence of union organizers, known as card-check organizing, is the only way that workers can freely choose to unionize. However, with card checks, union organizers know who has and has not signed up to join the union. This allows them to repeatedly approach and pressure reluctant workers. With this technique, a worker's decision to join the union is binding, while a decision to opt out only means "not this time."
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