Congress Considers Gutting Minimum Wage for One Million Workers
(To download a printable PDF version of this LegAlert, click here.)
H.R. 5970, The Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006, recently passed the U.S. House.
For years, the delivery company FedEx has claimed that its ground
drivers are not employees but independent contractors-- meaning the
company didn't have to pay for workers compensation, unemployment
insurance or extend a range of other worker protections.
By a vote of 35 to 14, the Chicago city council yesterday approved a new ordinance
requiring large retailers in the city to phase in a living wage for
their employees of $10 per hour plus $3 per hour in benefits-- the
highest minimum wage established for any industry sector in the
country. If signed by the mayor, the law would raise pay for tens of
thousands of workers in retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us,
Lowe's and Home Depot. A broad coalition of organizations including
ACORN, labor unions and church groups worked together for its passage.
The Massachusetts House is likely to approve a hike in the minimum wage following passage of the bill in the Senate. The bill, which increases the minimum to $8.00, does not tie the minimum wage to inflation in order to address cost-of-living adjustments in the future.
Governor Mitt Romney pledged in 2002 to support efforts to tie the minimum wage to changes in cost-of-living.
Following Chicago's lead, DC Councilman Phill Mendelson has introduced a bill to require
large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco to pay employees a living
wage of $11 an hour plus health benefits worth at least $3 a hour. The
bill also would give labor groups and the public access to public areas
of a firm to communicate with employees about their rights. As we
detailed in last week's Dispatch, a major committee and a majority of Chicago City Council members have endorsed a similar bill for that city.
Seriously, laugh at the next conservative who mentions "states rights."
Quite obviously -- at least to US Senate conservatives -- the issue of how to deal with day laborers being hired on our streets is outside the competence of state and local governments.
Which do you want to hear first? The bad news? OK, we'll get that out of the way and then talk about the good news, of which there is plenty.
The bad news: Georgia's senate adopted their heinous anti-immigrant bill that will be more punitive than effective. The bill still has to make it through the house.
The good news: Where to start?
Fully aware that their anti-worker policies are anathema to most Americans, corporate conservatives often posture and position themselves on worker issues to avoid bearing the full brunt of the backlash from their noxious positions and to try to fix blame on their opponents, who really are working for the common interest.
There is probably no better example of this toxic behavior than what is happening in Ohio.
Following the defeat of a 'right-to-work' bill in Indiana only weeks ago, Kentucky is poised today to defeat anti-worker legislation, including a right-to-work bill, as well as a bill to repeal the state's prevailing wage law.
A Republican Representative said that the bills, backed by Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, would likely face unanimous opposition from majority Democrats, as well as from