Workers won a big victory this month in the little Washington town of SeaTac with the success of passing Referendum 1 and its signature issue to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The vote was certified, and it passed by 50.6% (77 votes).
The town is named for the airport located between Seattle and Tacoma. Most of the people who live in this diverse community are dependent on jobs in and around the airport. It is estimated that 6300 workers at 72 airport-related businesses in and around SeaTac will directly benefit from passage of the referendum.
The Teamsters have been trying for 13 years to organize baggage handlers and other non-union airport workers. The obstacles they had faced seemed insurmountable. They were constantly blocked by anti-union laws and regulations and the targeting of union activists. Every time they had an organizing campaign that looked successful, the rank-and-file leaders were fired or intimidated.
Airports are under the Railway Labor Act, which means unions are required to organize a certain number of airports at the same time—in this case, including Hawaii. A few years ago, they decided to go directly to the community with a workers’ rights referendum. They joined together with HERE, which was organizing the large hotels and restaurants near the airport, and SEIU, which was working to organize Seattle fast-food workers.
The current minimum wage in Washington is $9.19, which is the highest in the country. The new minimum wage will be indexed to inflation. The referendum states that the new minimum wage will take effect on Jan. 1.
In a joint Op-Ed for CNN, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and National Employment Law Project Executive Director Christine Owens remind us that in the past 15 years, all wage increases have gone to the wealthiest 10%.
Trumka and Owens write:
If the minimum wage had just kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.77 an hour today instead of $7.25. For tipped workers, the rate’s been stuck at a scandalous $2.13 for 20 years.
Congress is considering a proposal, called the Fair Minimum Wage Act, from Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California, supported by President Barack Obama. The act would raise the minimum wage over two years to $10.10 an hour and let it grow with inflation.
The Senate is expected to consider the proposal the week after Thanksgiving.
The classic image of the high-school student flipping Big Macs after class is sorely out of date. Because of lingering unemployment and a relative abundance of fast-food jobs, older workers are increasingly entering the industry. These days, according to the National Employment Law Project, the average age of fast-food workers is 29. Forty percent are 25 or older; 31 percent have at least attempted college; more than 26 percent are parents raising children. Union organizers say that one-third to one-half of them have more than one job — like Mr. Shoy, who is 58 and supports a wife and children.
Remember this next time someone uses the “But minimum wage jobs are just for teenagers” shtick when you mention you support a minimum wage increase.
An influential US lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses is seeking to avert a looming funding crisis by appealing to major donors that have abandoned it over the past two years following criticism of its policy on gun laws.
The Guardian has learned that the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which shapes and promotes legislation at state level across the US, has identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold under a scheme referred to in its documents as the “Prodigal Son Project”.
Alec was embroiled in the controversy surrounding Florida’s 2005 “stand-your-ground” law under which George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin, initially claimed self-defence. The Florida law was picked up by Alec, and, working in partnership with the National Rifle Association, used as a template for one of its "model bills", which was then taken up by other states across the country.
The Guardian has learned that by Alec’s own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.
The reference to the Prodigal Son Project is just one of many revelations contained in a batch of internal Alec documents that have been obtained by the Guardian. The documents, prepared for its most recent annual board meeting in Chicago in August, cast light on the inner workings of the group.
They show that:
• Alec has set up a separate sister group called the “Jeffersonian Project” amid concerns over possible government inquiries into whether its activities constitute lobbying – which would threaten its tax-exempt status;
• the network has suffered a decline in its membership among state-based Republicans and among big corporations following the Trayvon Martin controversy;
• its income raised from conferences, membership fees and donations has fallen short, leaving the group with a potential funding crisis;
• a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec’s chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;
• Alec also considered extending its remit to include the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, as a possible source of new members and revenue.
All the documents in question are available at the link, as well as the rest of the story.
In a document dump that includes private forum messages, emails, organization notes another other information the group found numerous connections between Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and A3P. According to the documents, all hosted here, Paul himself regularly met with many A3P members, engaged in conference calls with their board of directors and engaged in a “bridging tactic”between A3P and the Ron Paul Revolution
this isn’t the first time i’ve heard about ron paul associating with white supremacists either