May 2, 2014: Seattle’s Mayor has announced the City will phase in a new minimum wage of $15 an hour, the highest in the nation. As the battle over the minimum wage heats up, will the Teamsters Union mobilize and help lead the fight?
Seattle announced today that it will phase in a new minimum wage of $15 an hour. Businesses with more than 500 workers must meet that level within three years. That includes the UPS hub.
Businesses with fewer than 500 workers must raise pay to that amount over the next seven years.
After that, increases will be linked to the cost of living.
The labor movement, including the Teamsters, has backed the movement to raise the minimum wage in cities, states, and at the federal level. But in our union’s biggest contract at our most profitable employer, UPS, starting pay is frozen at just $10 an hour until July 31, 2018.
By then, the minimum wage in a number of states will be higher than starting pay under our biggest Teamster contract. Hawaii and Maryland have voted to phase in hikes to the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, along with a number of cities and counties elsewhere.
In the next couple of years, thousands of UPS part-timers, especially at urban hubs, will probably make significantly more than our contract rate, simply by getting the minimum wage.
Nationally, the President and the majority of the U.S. Senate are backing a hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 too. That bill is currently being blocked by a minority block of opponents in the Senate. But similar efforts are being taken up in other cities and States, with many aiming higher than $10.10.
The new contract was a missed opportunity for our Union to take on part-time poverty at UPS. But it’s not too late for our Union to put Teamster power behind the fight to win wage increases for millions of low-income workers.
The Hoffa administration needs to move from saying the right thing about the minimum wage, to mobilizing Teamster members to win.
The fight to raise the minimum wage and win living wages is every Teamster’s fight.
I have worked as a tipped server for 15 years and, not counting tips, I still make only $2.65 an hour.
I’m a divorced mother with three kids. I need to put food on the table. I need to put clothes on their backs. I need to make sure they have what they need for school. I want to make sure they can have a successful future.
Click here to read more at The Detroit Free Press.
April 3, 2014: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech in Memphis on April 3, 1968.
King was there to support sanitation workers striking to protest low wages and poor working conditions.
He was assassinated the next day.
Truckers at Port Metro Vancouver reached a deal to end a strike that began March 10, the Vancouver Sun reported.
As part of the deal the Canadian government agreed to increase trip rates for truckers by 12% over 2006 rates for all container moves, whether the moves are full or empty.
The government also agreed to regulate a minimum rate for hourly drivers, expected to be C$25.13 for new hires and C$26.28 for drivers with one year of service, the paper reported.
There also will be a new escalating fee arrangement for wait times at the port. After 90 minutes of waiting, owner-operators will be paid C$50, after two hours the fee increases another C$25, and after two-and-a-half hours another C$25 and every half-hour after that they’ll receive C$20, according to the Sun.
The deal also withdraws back-to-work legislation that included penalties of up to $400 per day for workers and $10,000 per day for the union.
“There are financial wins in the plan for truckers,” Port CEO Robin Silvester said in the statement. “It is in all of our best interests that truckers come out of this dispute with their issues resolved, because disruptions like this hurt each of us.”
Drivers who had their licenses suspended during the strike but who were not criminally charged will get back their papers.
I recently read that Gap plans to raise its wage to $10 by the end of next year. Yet, Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, has failed to act while many of its 1.3 million workers are barely scraping by. We all know Walmart can do better, but is choosing not to. That’s why I call on you to pay Walmart workers a minimum of $25,000 a year so they are not forced to rely on government assistance.Why Act Now:
Tell Walmart it can’t claim to be neutral on raising the minimum wage when despite its massive profits last year, it chooses to pay its employees so little that many are forced to rely on tax-payer programs. It’s time to take responsibility and start providing decent jobs.
For more than two years, workers at Walmart have been bravely standing up for change at the retail Goliath. The company has sought to silence these workers by targeting and firing many of those who speak out. Workers have bravely gone on strike to protest this retaliation and Walmart is now facing prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board for this illegal intimidation.
While workers have made significant progress at the store-level in many locations, Walmart corporate continues to focus on shiny PR ads about opportunity in the company, rather than creating quality job. By the company’s own admission, most workers make less than $25,000 a year. Most deal with erratic work schedules and inadequate hours on top of low pay.
Worst of all, Walmart can afford to do better, but it chooses not to.
Despite its $17 billion in profits last year, it chooses to pay its employees so little that many are forced to rely on tax-payer programs. In fact, last November Fortune demonstrated how Walmart could afford to raise workers’s wages by 50% without hurting the business. Similarly, Demos concluded that Walmart could afford to give workers a “substantial raise.”
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You can blame the stagnant economy on a "handful of women and men" who run the country's largest companies. And that's according to a man who used to be one of those people.
Executive pay has gotten so out of hand, former AT&T Broadband CEO Leo Hindery told HuffPost Live on Thursday, that it has caused a "structural breakdown of the meritocracy of our nation."
Hindery pointed out that, even as CEO pay has skyrocketed in recent decades, it has not "trickled down" to workers, who must increasingly borrow money to finance their spending. That dynamic helped set the stage for the most recent recession and helps explain today's sluggish recovery.
Fortune 500 CEOs now make more than 200 times what their average workers make, according to Bloomberg data. That ratio has increased by 1,000 percent since 1950. As CEO pay has exploded, worker pay has stagnated: Workers have not had a real cost-of-living increase since the 1960s, Hindery argued.
And these CEOs are not exactly earning their exorbitant pay, said Hindery.
"It's a fraud," the former executive said. "It's born out of cronyism."
That cronyism is demonstrated in a new Huffington Post analysis of executive-pay data showing the compliance of corporate boards in approving CEO pay, regardless of corporate performance. Those directors are themselves well-paid for their vigorous rubber-stamping.
The problem, Hindery said, isn't just that the rich are getting richer. The tragedy, he said, is the rise of the low-wage workforce. Half of the jobs created in the past three years have been low-paying while the wealthiest Americans continue to capture record earnings.
The federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25, is worth much less today than was in 1968. And all recent efforts to raise it have been stalled by Congress.
It's no wonder most of us are feeling entirely fed up. Two-third of Americans think CEO pay is out of hand, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, which also found that a majority of respondents thing the government should be doing more to help the poor.
Hindery would agree. After all, rising income inequality is putting a damper on the economy as a whole.
"The only time the U.S. economy and any of the developed economies prosper is when there's a vibrant middle class that grows from the bottom up," he said. "We've trashed that whole principle."
Today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reintroduced a proposed rule to ensure a more streamlined and fairer union election process for workers. In response, Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Board’s decision to reintroduce this commonsense rule. This modest reform would streamline the drawn-out union election system, reducing a number of obstacles faced by men and women trying to form a union to better their workplaces.
“Currently, workers who petition for a union election encounter delays of months and even years before an election is held, and some never get to vote at all. The current protracted election process sacrifices workers’ rights to an election and, instead, incentivizes coercive and often illegal activity by employers. This rule would cut back on senseless procedural delays, closing the loopholes employers have exploited for decades.
“Let’s be clear, this rule will only address employers’ cynical procedural maneuvers and not their anti-union conduct or communications with employees. There are countless examples of major corporations—like Walmart, Home Depot and Target—that subject employees to preemptive, intimidating anti-union campaigns, starting as early as their first day of work.
“In today’s upside-down economy, any attempt to restore some balance for working people is a good thing. While the agency’s proposed rule is a basic step toward protecting workers’ rights, much more needs to be done to fully address the significant challenges people face when they try to come together for a voice on the job.”
Join Teamster Sisters and Brothers at this inspiring gathering of grassroots union activists, dynamic union leaders, and all-around troublemakers.
The conference is held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, near Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Meet Teamster reform leaders and activists working for change in our union. A Teamster meeting will be held on Saturday.
More than 100 meetings and workshops include secrets of a successful organizer, beating apathy, running for union office, winning contract campaigns, bargaining over technology, assertive grievance handling, and inside campaigns.
Learn how some unions are working with their communities to fight privatization, tax the rich, run ballot initiatives, bargain around the ACA health care reform, organize without collective bargaining rights, and organize along the global supply chain.
Schedule: Workshops and meetings begin 1 p.m. Friday, April 4, and end at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 6.
Registration: $130. Includes Saturday banquet. Also, get a discounted subscription to the monthly print edition of Labor Notes, just $20 when you register.
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Near Rosemont CTA train station (Blue Line).
Hotel Booking: Single/Double/Triple/Quad: $115 per night. Book at labornotes.org/2014/hotel or call the hotel at 877-337-5793. Mention "Labor Notes Conference" to get the conference room rate (guaranteed until March 12).
Air Travel: Fly to Chicago O'Hare (ORD). There is a free shuttle to the hotel.
Childcare: Available for a donation for children over 1 year old. Request by March 12.