I Give Thanks to Workers Standing Up to Injustice

The holiday season — a time of counting your blessings, spending time with your family, and abundance.

It is also a time for a huge portion of workers — unable to make basic ends meet — to be made painfully aware of how they are falling short.

About half of all full-time workers of color in the United States do not make $15 a or more an hour, a figure that actually is not a living wage for a single adult in most places. Read more

Ferguson Tragedy is a Mandate to Change Police Policies and Practices in Our Country

For Immediate Release

November 24, 2014
ALLIANCE FOR A JUST SOCIETY
Contact: Kathy Mulady,
Communications Director
(206) 992-8787
or Libero Della Piana,
Senior Organizer
Ferguson Grand Jury Decision in the Killing of Michael Brown

The Alliance for a Just Society joins with millions of people who are outraged and incredulous that no indictment was made of officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

An indictment is not a verdict, it is simply the acknowledgement that a life was wrongly taken and that a trial is necessary to review the evidence and to determine whether the officer is guilty of murder, manslaughter, or is innocent.

No indictment means no pursuit of the truth, and little chance of justice.

“The tragedy that happened in Ferguson is a mandate to change the policy and practice of policing around the country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “Let’s end a system that allows police to take the lives of young black men, any person of color, or anyone’s child without facing the consequences.”

There have been far too many distortions, reversals and changed stories from the Ferguson Police Department about the incident. The public still doesn’t know everything that happened that day, nor do we know Darren Wilson’s version of events.

We are also disturbed by the preparation for violent conflict and confrontation by the local police in Ferguson and the State of Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a State of Emergency last week in advance of the Grand Jury decision and ahead of predicted “violent protest.” The fact is that protests in Ferguson, the surrounding area, and around the country have been largely peaceful. The governor’s decision and stockpiling of riot gear sets a dangerous tone for police.

Tension rose in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in large part due to police violence and excessive response towards protesters. Journalists, local clergy, bystanders and protesters were locked up, tear-gassed, beaten, harassed and arrested over the past three months.

In this moment of miscarried justice we must all take action.

  • We call on the police and other authorities to respond responsibly and peacefully to the legal and rightful protest of the Grand Jury decision. We have a right to march, protest and to call attention to the prevalence of police violence and brutality in communities of color in this country.
  • We call for demilitarizing the police and a stop to federal programs that provide subsidized or free military equipment to local authorities.
We cannot let Michael Brown’s death be in vain.
# # #

 

Ferguson Mandate: Time to Change Police Policies and Practices

The Ferguson grand jury has announced its decision in the killing of Michael Brown.

The Alliance for a Just Society joins with millions of people who are outraged and incredulous that no indictment was made of officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

An indictment is not a verdict, it is simply the acknowledgement that a life was wrongly taken and that a trial is necessary to review the evidence and to determine whether the officer is guilty of murder, manslaughter, or is innocent.

No indictment means no pursuit of the truth, and little chance of justice.

“The tragedy that happened in Ferguson is a mandate to change the policy and practice of policing around the country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “Let’s end a system that allows police to take the lives of young black men, any  person of color, or anyone’s child, without facing the consequences.”

There have been far too many distortions, reversals and changed stories from the Ferguson Police Department about the incident. The public still doesn’t know everything that happened that day, nor do we know Darren Wilson’s version of events.

We are also disturbed by the preparation for violent conflict and confrontation by the local police in Ferguson and the State of Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a State of Emergency last week in advance of the Grand Jury decision and ahead of predicted “violent protest.” The fact is that protests in Ferguson, the surrounding area, and around the country have been largely peaceful. The governor’s decision and stockpiling of riot gear and materials sets a dangerous tone for police.

Tension rose in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in large part due to police violence and excessive response towards protesters. Journalists, local clergy, bystanders and protesters were locked up, tear-gassed, beaten, harassed and arrested over the past three months.

In this moment of miscarried justice we must all take action.

  • We call on the police and other authorities to respond responsibly and peacefully to the legal and rightful protest of the Grand Jury decision. We have a right to march, protest and to call attention to the prevalence of police violence and brutality in communities of color in this country.
  • We call for demilitarizing the police and a stop to federal programs that provide subsidized or free military equipment to local authorities.

We cannot let Michael Brown’s death be in vain.

D.C. News and Views for Nov. 24, 2014

Heeee’s Back

Yours truly has returned to the helm of the Daley Weekly.

Big thank you and a round of applause for the work well done by Libero Della Piana over the last month filling in on the Daley Weekly.

Immigration

It would have been hard for you to miss the fact that President Obama went on national TV Thursday night to announce his long awaited executive order on immigration policy. Every one of you knows someone who has a parent or an uncle or a friend who just got a reason to smile.

It was interesting to watch the Republicans sputtering about it all Friday morning. The fact is that Obama put them in a box. There probably is not much they can do about it and most of the talking heads on morning TV found it difficult to disagree with the actual policies in the pending Presidential order.

They were left with objections to the process that they suggest should have included them. Why they have waited over 500 days to take up the bipartisan Senate immigration bill and now argue that they should be included in the process has got them twisted around their own axel.

They should have been objecting that the President did not go far enough – no guest worker program for agri-business, no revised visa policy for the high-tech crowd, no big appropriations for the fence builders and the private prison industry – lots of their friends left out of the deal.

And lots of deserving immigrants left out also, so the fight to do COMPREHENSIVE reform will have to go on.

The Perry Saga

The Weekly has reported before on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s criminal indictment for the abuse of power. Even though Perry has been trying to laugh it off, the Republican judge who is presiding at the trial refused to throw the case out on some technicalities that were raised by Perry’s lawyers. The trial will proceed.

The Empty Suit

How long have you been holding your breath awaiting the filing of the House lawsuit against the President? Your long wait at last is over. The suit was filed Friday. It does not actually name the President but sues the Secretaries of HHS and Treasury for unlawfully delaying the Affordable Care ACA employer mandate – a policy that the House itself has included in legislation that it has already passed.

Apparently the House has had some trouble finding a lawyer for their great test of constitutional politics. But last week a fellow named Jonathan Turley agreed to represent the House Republicans. He is a law professor at George Washington University in D.C.

Economics

The U.S. economy kept pumping out jobs last month, even though they continue to offer less than optimum pay and benefits. The jobless rate dropped to 5.8 percent, the lowest since the 2008 debacle.

Lots of fear in economic circles, however, that the austerity policies in Europe may pull everything back into retraction. Europe is on the brink of another recession and there is widespread unemployment.

The European Central Bank has signaled its intention to take additional monetary steps to help the struggling economies that use the Euro. But the Germans, the champions of austerity and the big economic gun, continue to be unwilling to make a break with their failed economic ideology.

Too Big to Jail

The currency-rigging case against some of the world’s biggest banks was partially settled when United Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, HSBC, and the Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to pay $4.25 billion in fines. A sixth bank, Barclays, withdrew from the settlement fearing that it would settle only a fraction of its potential exposure and is seeking a separate deal.

Even though none of the traders and none of the bank executives were charged with anything, there still are criminal investigations being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department. We’ll see.

Perhaps we should be taking a clue on all this from Iceland. A gentleman named Sigurjon Arnason, former chief executive of Landsbanki of Iceland was sentenced last Wednesday to a year in jail for his role in the 2008 financial crisis. He is the third of Iceland’s top bank executives ordered to do time.

I don’t know what Iceland’s prisons are like, but could they be any less confining than say the U.S. federal pen at Lompoc?

Appropriations?

There seems to be leadership interest on both sides of the aisle in passing an omnibus appropriations bill. This bill would wrap all of the various appropriations bills into one package and fund the government for a full year. The opposition to doing this comes from folks like Sen. Ted Cruz who wants to hold up the appropriations and to mess with them as retaliation for executive action on immigration.

If there is going to be an omnibus bill, each House apparently has its version ready. Unfortunately, either version of the appropriations bill will cut into discretionary domestic spending, with the Senate doing so somewhat less than the House. The budget caps that were agreed to a year ago force at least some reductions in the value of capped appropriations as inflation increases costs and enrollments in programs change.

An analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy can be viewed here: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4231.

Black Friday

As we enter the season of spending and splurging, take a look at “Equity in the Balance” released last week by the Alliance for a Just Society. You are probably going to run into some of the folks mentioned in the report – they will be ringing up your purchases, serving you lunch, cleaning your office or caring for your children or aged parents.

The report documents the many workers who don’t make a living wage – especially women and people of color. Nationally, only 61 percent of all full-time workers earn $15 per hour or more, compared to 57 percent of women, 52 percent of people of color, and 42 percent of Latino workers. That leaves an awful lot of people not earning enough money even working full time to make ends meet.

One way to look at it: government doesn’t subsidize people, government is subsidizing corporations that don’t pay their employees enough to live on – so their executives can take home a bigger share of the profits.

Ad of the Weekly

A Kansas Independent candidate ran an ad accusing incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts of being the problem on immigration. It was a nasty attack and it didn’t work – Roberts overcame a 10 point deficit to win reelection.

We stole this one from a project on political advertising at American University. You can read all about the good, the bad and the inane in a Washington Post story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/drew-babb-the-best-and-worst-election-ads-of-the-2014-midterms/2014/11/18/0a3788ba-6e90-11e4-ad12-3734c461eab6_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1.

Musical Chairs

Both Sen. Harry Reid and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were reelected to their leadership positions, in spite of the outcome of the election.

Several Democrats were outspoken in their criticism of Reid’s leadership and apparently voted against him – Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/claire-mccaskill-harry-reid-opposition-112858.html#ixzz3Jv8fHBvu

Pelosi was reelected also without opposition but lost a “proxy” vote when her caucus rejected her effort to name Rep. Anna Eshoo, California, to be the ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Democratic Caucus voted 100 to 90 to name Frank Pallone from New Jersey as Ranking on the Committee.

Here are the House Committee Chairs for the next Congress:

Agriculture – Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.); Appropriations – Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Armed Services – Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.); Budget – Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.); Education & the Workforce – Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.); Energy & Commerce – Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.); Financial Services – Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.); Foreign Affairs – Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.); Homeland Security – Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.); Judiciary – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); Natural Resources – Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah); Oversight & Government Reform – Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); Science, Space, and Technology – Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.); Small Business – Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio); Transportation & Infrastructure – Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.); Veterans’ Affairs – Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.); Ways & Means – Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.); Administration – Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.); Ethics – Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.); Intelligence – Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.); Rules – Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.).

Senate Chairs are still in the works. Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi announced last week that he was going to contend for the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee against Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. Enzi actually has more seniority than Sessions. Whoever gets it, and we may not know until January, will have the happy task of dealing with Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders who will be the ranking “Democrat.” Sounds like great fun over at Budget.

Schedule

It looks like the House and Senate, now both in the hands of the Republicans, expect to be busy next year. Tentative legislative schedules were released this week.

Both the House and Senate will kick off work in the 114th Congress on Jan. 6 and neither Chamber has scheduled a “district work week” until President’s Day, the week of February 16.

The current Lame Duck Session is in a break for Thanksgiving and will return December 1 for another two weeks.

 

LeeAnn Hall’s Statement on Executive Action for Immigration

For Immediate Release

November 20, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady,
Communications director
(206) 992-8787

Statement from LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, regarding President Obama’s announcement on executive action for immigration:

“This is a great step forward for everyone in our country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “Now Congress needs to step up to enact real bipartisan immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the country, and that respects the dignity of all immigrants in the United States.”

The Alliance for a Just Society released numbers this week showing that non-citizens have significantly less access to jobs that pay enough to make basic ends meet, leaving them more likely to live in poverty and unable to fully participate in their local economy.While nearly two-thirds of citizens working full-time earn $15 or more, only one-third of non-citizens earn this much. That is 63 percent of citizens compared to 38 percent of non-citizens.

“The president’s action takes us a step closer to reducing the economic racism which is at the heart of the immigration issue,” said Hall.

 

Only 52 percent of Full-Time Workers of Color Earn Enough to Make Ends Meet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 18, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications director
kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org

Only 52 percent of Full-Time Workers of Color Earn Enough to Make Ends Meet

Just 57 percent of women and 42 percent of Latino workers earn enough working full time to cover their basic needs

SEATTLE — During this season of abundance, many full-time workers across America don’t earn enough for a single person to survive, much less to support a family. The staggeringly low percentage of women and people of color who earn a living wage is especially troubling.

“Equity in the Balance,” a report by the Alliance for a Just Society released today, details just how few women, people of color, and non-citizens in the U.S., working full-time, make a living wage — that is, earn enough income to cover basic expenses.

Only 61 percent of all full-time workers earn a wage that allows a single adult to make ends meet. Only 57 percent of women, and just 52 percent of people of color make a living wage. Just 42 percent of Latino workers earn enough to make ends meet. Among non-citizen workers, only 38 percent earn more than $15 per hour.

“A system that unjustly and persistently leaves people of color over-represented in low-wage work is economic racism,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “Policies that keep women over-represented among low-wage workers is gender discrimination.

“It’s time to increase the national minimum from a $7.25 poverty wage to $15 an hour to ensure that full-time work pays enough to do more than barely survive, and so our families and economy can thrive.”

“Equity in the Balance” is a groundbreaking report, said Dorian Warren, associate professor of political science at Columbia University.

“No one in the country is talking about economic racism – and here, in this report, are the numbers that clearly illustrate its existence and its impact,” Warren said. “When people talk about poverty, race has disappeared from the conversation. The economy and race have become uncoupled in our country.”

Policies and practices in the U.S. have perpetuated low wages in jobs and industries where women and people of color primarily work. 

“ ‘Equity in the Balance’ provides a stark national picture of what we’ve been seeing over the past decade in the restaurant industry, one of the largest private-sector employers in the nation. Women and people of color bear the brunt of the country’s growing income inequality gap,” said Saru Jayaraman, director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

“Increasingly, the only jobs available to all people are low-wage jobs,” Jayaraman said. “The difference for women and people of color is that they are never able to move out of these jobs and into positions that will allow them to support their families.”

Women of color struggle even more, and are forced to make difficult choices to provide for their children.

“For the first time in history in the U.S., women make up half of the paid labor force.  Many of them are moms who are either the sole breadwinner or the primary breadwinner for their families,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising.

“Women’s incomes are essential to family economic security – and that economic security is critical to our nation’s overall economic health. That’s our modern reality,” said Rowe-Finkbeiner.

“Equity in the Balance” is the second report in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. Alliance for a Just Society has produced Job Gap studies on jobs and wages since 1999.

Data from the Alliance’s Job Gap Study figure prominently in debates on minimum wage, paid sick days, payday lending, Medicaid and other family economic issues.

Here is a summary of the recommendations in the report:

 

  • Increase the federal minimum wage. Wages should provide enough for workers to more than make ends meet. A $15 national minimum wage would approach  a living wage covers basic expenses and sets aside some savings for emergencies.
  • Eliminate the federal tipped minimum wage that has been stagnant at $2.13 per hour for over 20 years. That is not a formula for economic prosperity.
  • Invest in state and federal safety net programs, such as childcare assistance. Until there are enough living wage jobs to go around for all household types, families will continue to face tough choices.
  • Guarantee paid leave that includes maternity leave and parental leave to care for sick children. Many workers risk losing their jobs or income, if they are too sick to come to work or if they need to care for a sick child.
  • Unionize occupations and industries that pay the lowest wages, including fast food, home care and farm work to help women and people of color earn increased wages and benefits.
  • Prohibit pay secrecy and encourage transparency. When employers either formally or informally discourage or even forbid employees from sharing wage information, it leaves employees unaware that they are being underpaid.
  • Expand and Strengthen Social Security: Because women and people of color earn less, they are less able to save for retirement and forced to depend solely on Social Security.
 Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 14 state affiliates, that focuses on health, racial and economic justice.
# # #

Who Earns a Living Wage, and Who Doesn’t?

A living wage: the ability to make ends meet, to provide for necessities as well as to have some left over for savings and miscellaneous expenses. It sounds simple, but for a large number of workers across the country, it is far out of reach. For a staggering percentage of women and people of color, it is only an impossible dream

Today, the Alliance for a Just Society releases “Equity Out of Balance,” the latest installment in the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. The study shows that while nationally, and in 10 states and New York City, a significant percentage of all full-time workers fall short of earning enough to make ends meet, working women, workers of color, and non-citizen workers are especially less likely to earn enough for a single adult to support herself, let alone support a family.

This staggering disparity did not come about by chance; rather, a history of discriminatory policies laid the groundwork for the disparities that still exist today. When women were denied the right to vote or to keep their own earnings if they were married; Black slaves were sold as property and freed slaves kept in a system of slave-like conditions; Native Americans forced from their homeland to barren territory; and immigrants who were not free and white were prevented from becoming citizens, a system of economic racism and gender discrimination became entrenched in the nation’s culture.

Today, the results of such policies are shown in the over-representation of women and people of color in low-wage work. Women make up 60 percent of all workers in tipped occupations, and are 70 percent of all servers in the restaurant industry. In fact, across all industries, women make up 57 percent of all workers than earn at or below the minimum wage. Similarly, restaurants are the single largest employer of people of color, and the second largest employer of immigrants.

Increasing the minimum wage and abolishing the tipped minimum wage will disproportionately help women and people of color, but more targeted solutions can help advance pay equity. Equal opportunity statues and affirmative action should address these disparities and ensure that discrimination does not keep women and people of color at the bottom of the pay scale, but such statutes must be strengthened to ensure that they are actually effective. Additionally, unionizing sectors not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (like home care workers) and fast food and retail workers will help millions of workers across the country gain access to better pay, benefits, and worker protections, and will especially help the women and people of color working those jobs.

For over two hundred years, women and people of color have been subject to policies that keep them stuck at the bottom; it’s past time for that to change.

Groundbreaking Report Reveals Evidence of Economic Racism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady,
Communications director
(206) 992-8787
Groundbreaking Report Reveals Evidence of Economic Racism
Study: Just Half of Full-Time Workers of Color Earn Enough to Make Ends Meet
SEATTLE — Throughout our nation’s history, women and people of color have faced an uneven playing field. That lack of equity continues with a disproportionate share of women and people of color earning less than the living wage.
“Equity in the Balance,” the second report in the Alliance for a Just Society’s Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series, was released today. It finds that a staggering percentage of full-time workers aren’t making ends meet and can’t support a family. The vast majority of women and people of color working full-time do not earn enough to support a family.
“A system that unjustly and persistently leaves people of color over-represented in low-wage work is economic racism,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “Policies that keep women over-represented among low-wage workers is gender discrimination.
Dr. Dorian Warren, associate professor of political science at Columbia University, calls the report “groundbreaking.”
“No one in the country is talking about economic racism – and here, in this report, are the numbers that clearly illustrate its existence and its impact,” Warren said. “When people talk about poverty, race has disappeared from the conversation. The economy and race have become uncoupled in our country.”
We find that, nationally, only 61 percent of all full-time workers earn a wage that allows a single adult to make ends meet. Only 57 percent of women, and just 52 percent of people of color earn $15 per hour or more, and just 42 percent of Latino workers earn enough to make ends meet. Among non-citizen workers, only 38 percent earn more than $15 per hour.
Download the full report at http://thejobgap.org.
Alliance spokespersons are available for interviews.
Contact: Kathy Mulady, communications director
(206) 992-8787 or kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org