While this article came out on tax day in the Washington Post in response to the national protests for a living wage, the facts still remain relevant until the issue is resolved, so we post the story here.
The facts speak for themselves; workers cannot subsist on the wages paid to most workers in the retail industries, including food service industry. We have become accustomed to the convenience and abundance of cheap goods and cheap food but at what price? While this article focuses on Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, two the highest profile retail marketers in the country, almost the entire retail sector relies on a business model that passes their payroll cost onto the taxpayer. Unlike the ideal “free market” of yore where companies compete on their own merits based on their pure wits and abilities, large companies have modeled their business enterprises on how well they can con consumers and con taxpayers into helping them to carry the burden of their cost of doing business — while they keep the profits for themselves.
By Ken Jacobs
The low wages paid by businesses, including some of the largest and most profitable companies in the U.S. – like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart – are costing taxpayers nearly $153 billion a year.
After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs goes to working families who need food stamps, Medicaid, or other support to meet basic needs. Let that sink in — American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work — most of them full-time (in some case more than full-time) because businesses do not pay a living wage.
Workers like Terrence Wise, a 35-year-old father who works part-time at McDonald’s and Burger King in Kansas City, Mo., and his fiancée Myosha Johnson, a home care worker, are among millions of families in the U.S. who work an average of 38 hours per week but still rely on public assistance. Wise is paid $8.50 an hour at his McDonald’s job and $9 an hour at Burger King. Johnson is paid just above $10 an hour, even after a decade in her field. Wise and Johnson together rely on $240 a month in food stamps to feed their three kids, a cost borne by taxpayers.
The problem of low wages and the accompanying public cost extends far beyond the fast-food industry. Forty-eight percent of home care workers rely on public assistance. In child care, it’s 46 percent. Among part-time college faculty—some of the most highly educated workers in the country—it’s 25 percent.
Ebony Hughes is paid $7.50 an hour as a home care worker in Durham, N.C., and has a second job at a local KFC. While the home care industry has the fastest growing number of jobs in America, these workers are some of the lowest paid in the country – earning, on average, $13,000 a year. To get enough hours to pay the bills, Hughes works from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. But she and her daughter still rely on public assistance to make ends meet.
UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, which I chair, has analyzed state spending for Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and federal spending for those programs as well as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Keep Reading at the Washington Post: Americans are Spending…
Another example of the struggle for equal pay.
Originally posted on Today in Labor History:
A one-week national strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers begins over wage inequality. The Canada Post Office’s new postal mechanization system was staffed with female postal code machine operators paid $2.94/hour compared to male postal clerks making $3.69/hour. In the end, an arbitrator awarded female postal coders the same wages as male postal clerks.
The sacrifices made in the cause of labor worldwide should never be forgotten.
Originally posted on Today in Labor History:
The military arrives to crush a strike by more than 6,000 gold miners – on strike over long hours, appalling working conditions, and starvation wages – along the Lena River in southeast Siberia, Russia. The entire strike committee was quickly arrested and when 2,500 workers marched to demand their release, soldiers opened fire on them, killing and wounding over 500 people. Anger over the mass murder fueled a subsequent wave of strikes across the country.
by Kathryn Talbert
I met with Maureen Mann this Tuesday at her house in Deerfield. She is running for state representative, Rockingham, District 32, Candia, Deerfield, Nottingwood, Northwood. We had a discussion about her past experience in the state house, why she wants to run now and some of the skills and passions she would bring with her to Concord if elected.
Nestled in a small house in Deerfield, Maureen lives with her husband, a retired machinist and electrician and two dogs. Taking advantage of the sunny spring weather we sat at a table in a three-season room that obviously serves as an office and study for the Manns.
What made you decide to run?
Maureen started by informing me that she had lost in November 2014 to Brian Dobson who resigned on the first day to work for Frank Guinta.
“I was so concerned when this guy resigned on the first day, it has cost the four towns together over $20,000 to run a special election. And this is from Republicans who are always talking about wasteful spending! So I decided to run.”
According to your bio you have served in the legislature before correct?
“I have been elected three times, the first one was in a special election to fill a resignation and then I was elected twice beyond that.”
When you were serving in the past, what were the issues that came up for you then?
“I came into the legislature with the idea that the state’s rep’s job is to represent the people of the district. I did not come into this job with all kinds of ideas of what I should do. But right down to it I’m a Democrat, I believe in basic Democratic values.
What I’m proudest of is that most of the legislation that I introduced was at the request of my constituents. One of the areas I worked on was trying to give local communities more control over their local resources. I introduced legislation dealing with the dam on Dennis Pond in Northwood and I got Pleasant Lake in Deerfield classified as a Class A lake, which means in an emergency it could be used for town water.
I’ve worked with small businesses to help them get representation of local products in New Hampshire. Now that the Hooksett rest- stops are open, you can see the stores there sell only New Hampshire products; that’s what I was working for.
I was the prime sponsor of a bill for labeling GMOs. A local scientist in Deerfield really started educating me on GMO’s and transparency in labeling. When I was elected in 2012 I was the prime sponsor on legislation for labeling GMO’s. The issue will be introduced again in the upcoming session.
I also was involved in campaign finance reform and transparency in donations. I don’t know if you know about the article about the campaign financing of my opponent? My opponent has huge amounts of money coming from sources outside the state. What do they expect from her in return for this money?”
Tell more about your work on transparency and campaign finance reform.
“Well there are two different issues here; one was campaign finance. As a state rep, I have to disclose every donation in detail. And if I am a certain type of PAC, I don’t have to disclose anything; I don’t have to disclose who my donors are, where the money came from. So the question is, should these types of PACs have to disclose where the money is coming from?
Now you’re looking at people in the NH legislature are getting paid $100 a year. If people running for state senate for example, are raising $50,000 for campaigns, what does all this money mean? My donors for the most part are the residents in the four towns in my district.
The other bill was related to “model bills”. If I am prime sponsor, should I have to say, ‘This is the source of the bill and this is the agenda of that source, whether it is left or right.’ So basically I believe in transparency, about funding, about campaigns, even about meetings…”
What was it that you liked the most about serving?
“I liked the constituent services. The other thing was I was in the Public Works and Highways committee. One year we do the building budgets and the other the highway plan. I really enjoyed working with infrastructure. I’m interested in infrastructure and safety.
I think that also gets into making our state attractive to people and businesses to come here. Infrastructure development is important, do we have good roads? And also communication infrastructure that always comes up when companies say why should we move here? And not only that, but to retain our own young people.”
Yes what do you think we need to do make New Hampshire an attractive destination for young families?
“We need good communication infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, quality education and a good general qualify of life to offer.”
Tell me more about communication infrastructure?
“We’re not going to attract business without safe roads and businesses and without their employees having to sit in traffic for hours. We are not going to attract business without high speed internet. We are not going to be able to attract young people and families to New Hampshire and retain our own young people without infrastructure.
NH students already have the highest debt load in the country and we have the second most expensive state university system in the country. We need to fund quality education. Education is expensive, the fact is, and wherever you end up going to college is usually where you end up staying.”
What do we do to attract business to New Hampshire?
“What Republicans keep saying is, “Oh we have to cut taxes.”
But when you talk to businesses, they say “No that’s not on our agenda.”
We hear Republicans say a lot about the tax burden of business, do you agree that New Hampshire puts a high tax burden on business in this state and what could we change?
“New Hampshire has the eighth friendliest business environment in the country but I think the Business Enterprise Tax could be looked at.”
Let’s look at your opponent, Yvonne-Dean Bailey. One of the comments that I saw was in a Concord Monitor article of February 17th, where she says “past lawmakers have been writing blank checks” What do you think of that, is that true about New Hampshire lawmakers and can you answer to that?
“It depends. If you think that the state has no responsibility for the poorest among us, for those with disabilities, for education, for seniors, for veterans, then perhaps you think the state is writing blank checks, because you don’t believe that is the state’s obligation.
Otherwise I say, give me one specific example of these ‘blank checks’. It’s easy to use buzzwords and to generalize. How about providing a real example of profligate state spending and then I will take the criticism more seriously. I certainly think there could efficiencies in departments, of course there could be efficiencies in our households too. I bet every household could be more efficient, every government, every company could more ‘efficient’. But why don’t we start looking at certain inefficiencies instead of making general statements.”
Yvonne-Dean Bailey, she also said, “Our state adopted Common Core Standards”
Did the state adopt Common Core standards?
“That’s interesting, because I know individual towns are able to opt in or opt out. These four towns have all opted in. School boards, teachers and people who make those decisions decided to have Common Core. I am familiar with basically what it is, I know that it’s a not a curriculum.
It is a framework which local teachers can fill in in a way which is most appropriate for their students. But Common Core doesn’t tell you how to teach it, or that you have to have this method. People see it as something handed down from government and forcing schools to have something lock and step with the government. That’s not true. That state does not require any community to adopt Common Core, every community has the right to opt out.
Also, with Common Core you have to have assessments to provide results. We have always had assessment and any half way decent teacher uses assessment to figure out, ‘Am I teaching the students effectively? What do I do to achieve this?’ “Am I being effective in what I’m doing? Am I effectively teaching this and if not should I try a different way?”
You’ve got twenty-five kids in a classroom, they are not all the same and they don’t all learn the same. A teacher deals with all those kids and comes up with a way to assess those kids. One of the things I’m adamantly opposed to is tying teacher’s salaries to test results.”
You were a teacher yourself right?
“Yes, I taught at Medford High School in Medford, Massachusetts for over thirty years. I’ve taught kids whose parents were faculty at Tufts and some who were living in cars. Kids with difficult economic circumstances verses a kid with a secure home environment will test differently. Teachers are doing the best they can and trying to deal with the needs of their students and to tie those teacher’s salaries to those kids’ performance on test scores is a system that doesn’t understand the realities of public education.”
Your opponent also retweeted a claim that you “don’t support school choice”
“I believe in public education. I had a good education myself, I was a public school teacher. I believe public education is the answer for so many children to get from where they are to where they want to go. I voted against public funding for non-public schools.
My opponent went to parochial school and to a very expensive and high quality private school. It’s wonderful that she’s fortunate to have those opportunities. But for the average student, a private school tuition is at an average of $40,000 a year and a voucher is for less than $2,000. That is not going take a kid living in poverty into an elite prep school.”
Do you support the Affordable Care Act because your opponent has expressed that she does not.
“39,000 New Hampshire residents, often working one or two jobs to make ends meet now have health insurance. I think it’s outrageous that they [the GOP] want to take it away from them.
So this current budget does not refund Medicaid expansion because people say the state will have to pay 10%. But the fact is that it’s far more expensive for people to not have access to healthcare such as regular check-ups. You are preventing problems that cause people without insurance to wait and then flood emergency rooms and take up space in hospitals that the taxpayer will have to reimburse. It’s as if those who are against the ACA believe that they or none of their families will ever fall on hard times.”
Would you take people’s guns away or do you want people to not be able to have guns?
“I am not opposed to the second amendment, that’s a ludicrous thing to say, it’s like saying I don’t support the constitution, but I have no problem with background checks.”
Why do you think the voters should come out and support you on May 19th?
“I have a proven record of support for my constituent’s needs. I have a proven record of being accessible to my constituents. I have a proven record of service to these four towns.”
For more information about Maureen Mann:
see her on Facebook at: Maureen Mann – NH House of Representatives
Some citizen-video on Vine
Some of Maureen’s editorials published in The Forum
Cuts to the Department of Transportation
The Real Cost of Public Education
Cuts to DHS Hurt All of Us: Part One
Cuts to DHS Hurt All of Us: Part Two
Expected to pull in some GOP heavy-weights, the GOP leadership apparently didn’t like how the Mayday pact went after their defeated darling Scott Brown in the last election. Apparently, contrary to Lessig’s assumption, the Mayday pact’s contribution to the Upper Valley moderate Republican Jim Rubens and Bedford libertarian group Stark360 didn’t win them any love with GOP leader Jennifer Horn.
One of the organizers told WMUR that the Executive Director for the NH GOP was “very, very sorry” for the misunderstanding and said they refunded NH Rebellion their $500 table fee. Apparently though, Jennifer Horn wasn’t “very, very sorry” saying to WMUR, “This summit is an event for Republican activists to hear from our potential presidential candidates, not a platform for the self-absorbed antics of a liberal Harvard professor. Professor Lessig and his friends are free to protest off the hotel premises with every other liberal group,”
Ouch, that’s gotta sting!
Possibly if Ray Buckley and others among the NH Democratic leadership could take some notes? Just imagine not having a Democratic house caucus full of Free Stater libertarians.
Across the country low-wage workers of all sectors went on strike demanding a raise to the minimum wage to $15/hour. From Boston to Los Angelos and even globally, low-wage workers were making noise on tax day.
David Moberg an award-winning journalist for In These Times reports:
A hand-lettered placard, reading “McDonald’s: Stop Fooling Around, $15 and a union,” caught the spirit of the crowd of at least 3,000 protestors in Chicago for a march to a McDonald’s restaurant in the downtown Loop area connected to the Chicago Board of Trade. In 236 cities in the U.S. and roughly 100 more around the world from Sao Paulo to New Zealand and from Glasgow to Tokyo, according to protest spokespeople, fast food and other low-wage workers joined together to pressure employers like McDonald’s to raise their workers’ pay.
Organizers claimed that it was the largest protest by low-wage workers in U.S. history. And it may very well rank as one of the broadest global worker protests ever undertaken against multinational corporations—one reinforced by recent investigations and lawsuits in Europe against the company for violations of labor, health, safety, tax and other laws.
With its intense public relations campaign, the campaign amplifies the actions of fast food workers—some of whom walk off their assigned shifts as in a traditional strike. For brand-sensitive consumer product companies, many organizers believe, such bad publicity can cost companies greatly—and potentially open up new organizing possibilities.
These protests have also changed the political climate, both locally and nationally. Seattle and Sea-Tac in Washington and San Francisco have raised their minimum to $15 an hour. The same change may be possible sometime soon in both Los Angeles and the District of Columbia. In Chicago, politically embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed under political pressure to raise the minimum to $13 over several years—far above what he would have contemplated a short while ago. The movement is likely to keep pressure over the coming year on Democratic candidates, even presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton, to advocate the higher pay levels.
For more click to In These Times: Fast Food Workers…
But there’s always a push-back when one pushes the powerful and nowhere is that more evident than right here in good ole America. A writer for Daily KOS connects the dots with the mysterious “plumbing issues” closings of Wal-Marts across the country. It seems that possibly, its not really plumbing that Wal-Mart intends to fix, but more likely, the “problem” of workers standing up for themselves:
In a highly unusual move Monday, Walmart closed 5 stores, citing plumbing problems requiring a 6 month closure being needed for repairs to be made. The closures were made suddenly with as little as 5 hours notice to many of the employees of the pending closures and layoffs. This is a highly unusual move by Walmart when you look at the work being done in the stores through renovations and upgrading to Walmart SuperCenters where contractors and employees were forced to work through the projects without store closures. This raises suspicion that the reason for the store closures may be something other than what Walmart is claiming publicly.
The stores closing are located in the southern tier of the US coast to coast. The stores are located in:
Pico Rivera, CA. 530 employees, were told they will continue to receive regular pay, and benefits for 60 days, along with possibly being transferred to another store.
Midland, TX. 400 employees, were told they would be able to transfer to other stores or, get the compensation packages. With 60 days pay due to the short notice of closing and are eligible will receive a severance pay of one week of pay per year of service. Upon reopening current employees who did not stay with Wal-Mart will have to reapply.
Livingston, Tx. 400 employees, employees will receive two months pay, with some being eligible for severance pay, and also a position at another store which isn’t guaranteed.
Tulsa, OK. 400 employees, employees will receive two months pay, with some being eligible for severance pay 1 week per year worked, and also a position at another store which isn’t guaranteed.
Brandon, FL. 400-500 employees, who will be able to receive two months pay, severance pay depending on length of service, and possibly a transfer to another store.
It should be noted that the 60 days pay is required by law in the event of a closure without notice and not the benevolence of America’s Richest Family. All of the affected stores have had at least 100 plumbing issues documented in the last year claimed by Walmart as the reason for closing. Despite that claim several news reports claim to have contacted local building officials asking if permits have been applied for or, plans have been submitted and none were noted as of yet. Building officials also stated that no building code violations were noted at the locations. In addition no contractors or repair services have been visible at any of the locations closing. Liberty Tax Service who had kiosks in many of the stores were also suddenly told to vacate the building along with the employees on April 13th, just 2 days before the April 15th, IRS Tax Filing Deadline.
But there’s more! Read on at Daily KOS: Wal Mart Temporarily Closes Stores
The House recently removed $4 million from the Governor’s Capital Budget that was reserved for beginning the next phase in expanding passenger rail in New Hampshire. This Project Development stage would enable the state to fully examine the costs, benefits and potential funding sources needed to expand rail.
NHRTA understands that lawmakers need to consider fiscal constraints as they compile the next two-year NH state budget, however, like many other infrastructure projects, it is necessary to fund a process that allows for deeper examination. The expansion of passenger rail is no exception. Rail expansion offers tremendous promise that shouldn’t be dismissed.
We have a chance to restore that funding in the Senate. Here’s how you can help:
Contact the Senate Capital Budget Committee:
The Senate Capital Budget Committee is meeting this Wednesday, April 15 at 2:00 pm in State House room 100. We need you to turn out and testify in support of restoring all or a portion of the $4 million in Project Development funding!
If you are unable to attend, please contact the committee members:
Sen. Gary Daniels – Chair – Gary.Daniels@leg.state.nh.us – (603) 673-3065
Sen. David Boutin – Vice Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com – (603) 203-5391
Sen. Jeanie Forrester – firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com – (603) 279-1459
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro – firstname.lastname@example.org – (603) 669-3494
Sen. Molly Kelly – email@example.com – (603) 271-3207
Excerpts from Bury Northern Pass: A monthly newsletter. This month Shaheen lays it straight about burying Northern Pass and the energy company’s foot dragging on the issue, Jeb Bradley’s next effort to help his friends in Big Energy falls flat and an opinion piece from a concerned citizen to the Colebrook Chronicle. Enjoy!