Payup New York! Livestream on Minimum Wage

Pay Up CoverHow much does it take to make ends meet? Nationally, a single adult needs $16.87 an hour, and in New York they need $19.90 – just to meet basic needs and an occasional minor emergency. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 and New York’s minimum wage of $8.75 fall far short.

A minimum wage worker in New York would have to work 91 hours a week just to get by, and 93 hours a week nationally.

Join the Alliance for a Just Society for a briefing on our latest report, “Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss,” and a discussion on why it is critical that we abolish the tipped minimum wage and raise the wage floor to at least $15. Media, organizers, and activists will find out more about what it really takes to move beyond living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The livestream of our event will begin today at 11am (Eastern), on this page.

Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss

In recent years, a number of cities have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is significantly above federal and state minimum wages. These changes have prompted debate around the country regarding what constitutes an adequate minimum. This report contributes to that conversation by providing living wage figures, finding that current minimum wage rates are far too low to meet individuals’ and families’ needs.

Pay Up CoverBy Allyson Fredericksen

Pay Up! Report (pdf)

How many hours does a minimum wage worker have to put in to make ends meet?

Our table has the answer for all 50 states.

Collective Bargaining is a Valuable Tool for Workers to Make Ends Meet

Working full-time should allow workers to make ends meet; instead, many workers across the country continue to be paid wages that leave them living paycheck-to-paycheck. As we’ve shown in our Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series since 1999, a living wage is well above the minimum wage that too many workers are paid.

Our recent report, “Low Wage Nation,” shows that nearly half of new jobs are low-wage jobs. In October, we will release a new installment showing that a living wage across the country is well above the federal minimum wage, and above state minimum wages.

But, the question remains, what needs to be done so that workers are paid a living wage?

One policy recommendation is to increase the minimum wage nationwide, lifting the wage floor for all workers. Another recommendation is to strengthen unions and support collective bargaining efforts by workers, especially in occupations that have not traditionally been unionized or have seen resistance from employers, such as fast food and retail.

The Alliance for a Just Society believes that all jobs should be good jobs, and unions are strong tools for making that a reality.

Union members earn higher wages than non-union members, and the gender wage gap is less for unionized workplaces than it is for those that are not unionized. In addition, though, unions put upward pressure on wages for all workers – even those whose workplaces are not unionized.

Furthermore, collective bargaining can also help lower the cost of living, making it easier for working families to make ends meet. Union efforts have helped workers gain access to affordable health insurance and retirement funds, including pensions.

Benefits like paid sick leave and paid family leave make sure that workers are paid while they care for their own health and when they care for their families.

As worker-led organizing like the Fight for 15 and Our Walmart have shown, workers in fast food and retail face harsh opposition to higher wages, workplace protections, access to health insurance, fair scheduling, and more. It is no surprise that workers in the Fight for 15 movement trying to make ends meet now ask not only for a $15 wage – but for $15 and a union.

NY Fast food workers win $15 minimum wage

Fast food workers in New York are getting a raise!

Hard work by our affiliates Citizen Action New York and Make the Road New York – along with dozens of other allied organizations and unions, and thousands of workers who took to the streets and shared their personal stories – has paid off  in a huge victory.

Yesterday, the New York State Wage Board approved gradually raising the minimum wage for New York City fast food chain employees to $15 an hour by 2018. Fast food workers throughout New York state will gradually raise to $15 an hour by 2021.

“This is a huge victory for fast food workers, and for everyone working for low wages in New York,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “It puts pressure on employers in other low-paying industries to start paying their workers a living wage.

“I applaud the hard work of everyone who fought for this important moment,” said Hall.

Fast food workers are paid less than any other occupation, and fast food work is projected to be the second largest growing occupation (PDF) in the country, with more openings than nearly any other.

This momentous victory brings fast food workers in New York significantly closer to earning a wage that will allow them to support themselves. It will boost their own financial stability, their communities, and the economy for all of us.

In New York and many other states, $15 is still a modest wage. This increase however allows workers to come closer to making ends meet.

In the report “Families Out of Balance” by the Alliance for a Just Society, our research shows that a living wage for a single adult is $18.47 an hour in New York state and is $22.49 an hour in New York City.

A pay raise is long overdue for all our workers nationwide. Tomorrow marks six years since the federal government last raised the minimum wage – to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.

A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and in the House by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

If the wage can be raised in Seattle and New York and Los Angeles and so many other cities, it can be raised nationally – and we can do it.

Congratulations New York! The struggle continues!unnamed (4)

Fast Food Workers in New York are Getting a Raise!

Hard work by our affiliate Citizen Action of New York – along with dozens of other allied organizations and unions, and thousands of workers who took to the streets and shared their personal stories – has paid off  in a huge victory.

Yesterday, the New York State Wage Board approved gradually raising the minimum wage for New York City fast food chain employees to $15 an hour by 2018. Fast food worker wages throughout New York state will gradually raise to $15 an hour by 2021.

“This is a huge victory for fast food workers, and for everyone working for low wages in New York,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.  “It puts pressure on employers in other low-paying industries to start paying their workers a living wage.

“I applaud the hard work of everyone who fought for this important moment,” said Hall.

Fast food workers are paid less than any other occupation, and fast food work is projected to be the second largest growing occupation in the country, with more openings than nearly any other.

This momentous victory brings fast food workers in New York significantly closer to earning a wage that will allow them to support themselves. It will boost their own financial stability, their communities, and the economy for all of us.

In New York and many other states, $15 is still a modest wage. This increase however allows workers to come closer to making ends meet.

In the report “Families Out of Balance” by the Alliance for a Just Society, our research shows that a living wage for a single adult is $18.47 an hour in New York state and is $22.49 an hour in New York City.

A pay raise is long overdue for all our workers nationwide. Tomorrow marks six years since the federal government last raised the minimum wage – to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.

A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and in the House by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

If the wage can be raised in Seattle and New York and Los Angeles and so many other cities, it can be raised nationally – and we can do it.

Congratulations New York!

 

Los Angeles is Biggest City to Enact $15 Minimum Wage

Los Angeles has become the biggest city in the nation to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Los Angeles City Council members voted 13-1 today to more than double the federal wage by 2020.

Los Angeles City Council members signaled two weeks ago that they would raise the minimum wage, and took the final vote today at their regular meeting.

During the earlier meeting, Kevin Litwin of Main Street Alliance of California, spoke in support of raising the wage even higher.Watch his testimony here: https://youtu.be/C2kEs8D3ZIY

“I am the Chief Operating Office at Joe’s Parking, and a member of the Main Street Alliance. Together we are support raising the L.A. minimum wage to $15.25. When Joe’s Auto Parks was founded in 1959 minimum wage was just $1 an hour. We didn’t pay the minimum then, and we don’t pay the minimum now. For over 50 years we have been committed to offering fair wages and attracting the best and brightest employees to manage our locations. That’s how we grew to one of the largest operations here in downtown L.A. We strongly hope you pass this and raise the wage to $15.25,” said Litwin.

The Council chambers were packed with more than 100 residents of the city, the vast majority supporting the minimum wage increase, and dozens of workers and community leaders providing comment echoing Litwin’s support.

After hearing the support and concerns of those in attendance the Council turned in a 14-1 vote in favor of raising the city’s wage to $15 gradually over the next 5 years. The full council vote next week before being written into law. The first wage bump will occur in July of 2016 when wages will rise to $10.60 an hour annually on their way to $15 by 2020.

Los Angeles joins Seattle and San Francisco, cities that recently passed laws to phase in a $15 minimum wage over several years. Chicago passed a minimum wage increase that plateaus at $13.

Cities and states throughout the country are discussing and debating minimum wage increases, including Maine, where Maine People’s Alliance is circulating petitions for a minimum wage referendum.

 

Job Gap Research is Key as New York Groups Fight for Fair Wages

Fast food workers in New York took another big step toward winning fair wages two weeks ago when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the convening of a new Wage Board to examine and make recommendations about increasing the minimum wage in the state’s fast food industry.

Cuomo’s office has now announced the next steps in the Wage Board process, including plans for four public hearings in June – in Buffalo, New York City, Long Island and Albany – to take public testimony.

Alliance for a Just Society salutes the broad coalition of community and labor groups in New York. Their disciplined organizing, savvy strategizing, and major mobilizations demonstrating strength in numbers, have raised the public demand and built the grassroots momentum to make this progress possible.

Alliance affiliates Citizen Action of New York, Make the Road New York, and Restaurant Opportunities Center United of New York have all played important roles in the ongoing organizing for fair wages in the state.

They helped secure a $2.50 increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers through the Wage Board process in February, raising the tipped minimum wage to $7.50 an hour – and marking a major step forward for the One Fair Wage campaign to end subminimum wages. This victory was a big win. It has since proved doubly significant: by demonstrating the potential of the Wage Board process, it paved the way for the governor to employ that process again now.

These organizations mobilized hundreds of grassroots members to join Fight for $15 events in New York City and in cities across the state on April 15, elevating fast food workers’ demands for $15 an hour and union rights and building momentum in the ongoing push to raise wages.

They coordinated legislative strategies in Albany to pass a strong minimum wage bill (phasing up to $15 an hour in New York City and its suburbs, and $12.60 an hour statewide) through the State Assembly on May 4. These moves raise the stakes for the governor to take executive action on wages in light of the legislative gridlock in the State Senate.

As the new Wage Board convenes and as the coalition partners in New York organize to ensure that grassroots voices calling for a $15 wage are heard at every public hearing across the state, the Alliance’s research on what constitutes a living wage in New York provides an important benchmark for the Board’s investigation.

According to the installment of our Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series, the living wage for a single worker in New York State is $18.47 an hour. In New York City, with its higher costs of living, the living wage for a single worker is $22.49 an hour. For families with children, the living wage levels are significantly higher once child care costs are factored in).

Under New York State law, a Wage Board can recommend changes to the minimum wage in a specific industry if it finds that wages are insufficient to provide for the life and health of workers. Based on the Job Gap living wage research, that’s clearly the case with fast food wages in New York today. Looking at what it actually costs to make ends meet in New York, this much is clear: the time for a $15 wage floor is now.

The new Wage Board can make $15 an hour a reality for New York’s fast food workers. The coalition of partners in New York is gearing up to mobilize for the raise fast food workers need, pushing toward another big victory on fair wages.

But we know the fast food Wage Board won’t be the end of the fight for fair wages in New York. Instead, for organizers and grassroots leaders in communities across the state it’s the next landmark on the road to winning an increase in the minimum wage for all workers in New York.

LeeAnn Hall is the executive director of Alliance for a Just Society, a national organizing network with affiliates in 20 states.

Low-Wage Job Growth a Major Factor in Income Inequality. Patience is Not the Answer.

In response to the New York Times’ Jan. 27 Upshot piece, “Gains From Economic Recovery Still Limited to Top One Percent,” we appreciate the effort to report on the historic, staggering and blatant income inequality that has taken hold of America. This piece made some excellent points around the continuing inequality crisis. However, we have an answer to the question about the recent employment growth that has occurred in middle-class occupations:

“The puzzle is why robust employment growth over recent years — much of it concentrated in middle-class occupations — has not translated into larger income gains for the broader population. Perhaps we need to be patient, and the recent pickup in employment is yielding more broadly shared growth that will become evident when the data for 2014 are released.”

Yes, the unemployment rate is down from its Great Recession peaks. But it is still significantly higher than pre-recession levels. And, importantly, that job growth we hear so much about is primarily coming in low-wage occupations. Read more

“A Full-Time Job Should Lead to Financial Stability, Not to Poverty”

For Immediate Release     January 27, 2015

“A Full-Time Job Should Lead to Financial Stability, Not to Poverty”

Most of America’s job growth is taking place in low-wage occupations

 WASHINGTON – Half of all new jobs nationwide don’t pay enough for a full-time worker to live on – much less a single parent with a child. And there are long lines of job-seekers for the few jobs that do pay a living wage.

“Low Wage Nation,” released today, is the newest report in the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series produced by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report paints a sobering picture of just how hard it is to find a living wage job.

“This new report clearly illustrates the low-wage crisis in our country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of Alliance for a Just Society. “A full-time job should lead to financial stability, not to poverty.”

The top four occupations with the greatest number of projected job openings are in retail and food service. Those jobs pay between $8.81 and $10.16 an hour.

The Alliance was joined by executive directors from Good Jobs First and Washington Community Action Network for a live webinar today to discuss the findings of the report. A recorded version of the webinar is available here. 

“The reality is that we are living in a low wage nation, a country of workers putting in long hours, but still failing to make ends meet. And this report is the evidence,” said Ben Henry, senior policy associate and one of the report authors.

Some of the report findings:

  • Nationwide, 48 percent of job openings pay less than $15 an hour. (That percent ranges from 35 percent in Massachusetts to 61 percent in South Dakota.)
  • Nationally, there are seven times more job seekers than jobs that pay enough for a worker to make ends meet.
  • Two of the top five occupations with the most projected job openings are also in the top five in lowest pay.

What Is a Living Wage?

A living wage is one that pays high enough for a full-time worker to cover basic living needs for herself and her family, without having to rely on public assistance to get by.

“A living wage is not a poverty wage, and it is not simply ‘scraping by.’ A living wage provides a modest living, with a little left to set aside for emergencies,” said Allyson Fredericksen, policy associate and co-author of the Alliance report.

It’s a Jobs Crisis, Not a Worker Crisis

“This is about workers who show up every day and put in a full day so that their employer can make a profit,” said Jill Reese, associate director of the Alliance. “These workers should not be living in poverty, they should be able to afford – at the very least – to cover their basic needs.”

Recommendations from the “Low Wage Nation” Report

  • Increase minimum wage to a living wage
  • Eliminate the tipped minimum wage (stuck at $2.13 an hour for 24 years)
  • Establish work supports, like paid sick days and paid maternity leave.
  • Strengthen federal and state safety net programs
  • Increase federal and state revenue
  • Invest in good paying jobs, like those in the health care industry

“Jobs that once were good family-wage jobs are becoming poverty-wage jobs, and economic development programs are too often indifferent,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First.  “States giving out tax breaks usually fail to even disclose actual jobs created or actual wages paid.

“Low Wage Nation reveals the tremendous cost of those policies to our workers and their families,” said LeRoy.

The full report is available at thejobgap.org

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Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates that focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced Job Gap studies since 1999.

Minimum Wage Shouldn’t Force Workers to Live in Poverty

On New Year’s Day, 20 states raised their minimum wages. That leaves a lot of states that aren’t increasing the minimum wage — along with the federal government.

Even some of those employees who are getting increases don’t have much to celebrate. Workers in Florida might barely notice their 12-cents-an-hour raise. And the extra 15 cents an hour in Montana, Arizona, and Missouri will be wiped out with inflation and climbing costs before the first paycheck is deposited.

U.S. legislators have refused since 2009 to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour — not even close to enough for full-time workers to make ends meet.

To put it bluntly, minimum wage is a poverty wage. Yet only 29 states have minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate — and some just barely.

In last year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Although Congress turned a deaf ear, activists took up the challenge. “Fight for $15” movements across the country won among the most powerful progressive victories of 2014.

Cheers to cities like Seattle and San Francisco with minimum wage plans that will increase rates to $15 an hour in the next few years. Huge congratulations to voters in Oakland, California, as well in Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and others who voted for significant minimum wage increases.

But the truth is, while it’s a great start, none of these increases goes far enough, or lifts workers out of poverty fast enough. What’s needed is a living wage that allows full-time workers to cover their basic needs and have a little savings left over in case of an emergency.

The Job Gap Economic Prosperity series — a collection of research reports by theAlliance for a Just Society — shows that a living wage comes to over $15 an hour for a single adult in most states studied. A parent supporting a child needs to earn closer to $22 or $23 an hour.

Women and people of color are least likely to earn a living wage, with half or more working full-time and not making enough to make ends meet.

Poverty-level pay is taken for granted at restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, and major retailers like Wal-Mart, that would rather invest in government lobbyists to keep wages low than in their employees.

“If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” Obama implored Congress in his latest State of the Union address. “If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

The sub-minimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 an hour for 24 long years. Imagine going to work every day, hoping beyond hope that the tips will make up for the tiny hourly wage. No worker should be a second-class employee.

Refusing to pay employees a wage they can live on isn’t a business plan. Paying employees enough so they can shop or dine at your business or neighboring businesses and grow the local economy — now that’s smart.

A full-time job should lead to financial stability, not poverty. We must continue to push Congress to raise the federal minimum wage and abolish the separate tipped minimum wage.

In the meantime, keep up the “Fight for $15.” We know that we can motivate our mayors, city councils, and state legislators by speaking out, sharing our stories, and presenting the facts. Most importantly, we have to vote.

Let’s make 2015 the year for $15 — and really have something to celebrate next New Year.

LeeAnn Hall is the executive director of Alliance for a Just Society, a national research, policy, and organizing network striving for economic and social equity. AllianceforaJustSociety.org
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