Workers Fight for a Living Wage
Today marked the “biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry,” as low-wage workers demanding a $15 per hour living wage walked off the job in 130 cities and related actions took place in dozens more.
CREDIT: Christopher Butterfield
One striking McDonald’s worker told ThinkProgress, “I’m hurting. I’m crying in my heart, my kids are starving. $8.25 is not enough to live in D.C., or anywhere for that matter, when the cost of living is constantly going up.” The $8.25 she makes at McDonald’s is not enough for her to support her two children. “I live in Capitol Hill and my rent is $1050. I work my butt off at work for a $300 check that I can’t even use to pay my rent. So, it’s saddening. It’s depressing, I’m seeing a therapist. It’s just a lot.”
The workers were joined by several Members of Congress, including Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL):
“We had a conversation last election about the makers and the takers, about the 1 percent and the 99 percent, and Barack Obama won that election,” she said. “They can be the makers if they have money in their pockets!”
Schakowski alludes to a very simple reality: it’s middle-class consumers, not the wealthy, who are America’s real job creators. Putting more money into the pockets of workers so they can buy things from businesses large and small creates a virtuous circle that grows our economy from the middle class out, not the top down.
As Pope Francis recently said, trickle-down economics has “never been confirmed by the facts.” Indeed, trickle-down economics has left decades of broken promises and growing income inequality in its wake. By contrast, raising the minimum wage would both help our economy and lift millions of the working poor out of poverty.
In addition to improving the lives of millions of families, raising the minimum wage would also reduce government spending on public assistance. Low-wage earners receive $243 BILLION in food stamps, Medicaid, and other public benefits every year. A recent report from the National Employment Law Project found that low wages at the top 10 largest fast food companies alone cost taxpayers $3.8 BILLION per year. By itself, McDonald’s, which recently advised its workers to find a second job and turn down the heat in order to make ends meet, is estimated to cost taxpayers $1.2 BILLION annually.
BOTTOM LINE: As President Obama said yesterday in his major speech on income inequality and upward mobility, “it’s well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office.”
Shawn Carter aka Jay Z: End all partnerships with Barneys New York By Derick Bowers Brooklyn, New York Sign Derick’s Petition Right as Jay Z prepares to roll out a new partnership with Barneys New York for the holiday shopping season, I’ve been disappointed to hear new allegations about how the retailer treats young black consumers.
According to The Post, following his purchase, he was stopped by police officers, allegedly called by a Barneys sales clerk, who believed the transaction was fraudulent. After being held in a precinct cell, Trayon was released with no charges.
Just days later, Kayla Phillips, a 21-year-old black woman, came forward with her similar story of discrimination. Kayla says that she was surrounded by police and questioned after she purchased a handbag from the store. She was also incorrectly accused of using a fraudulent card.
We can no longer tolerate blatant prejudice and discrimination. It is clear that the minority buying power is devalued by some. We must withdraw support to those who will not support us. I’ve been a lifelong Jay Z fan.
Jay Z is currently in partnership with Barneys New York for the release of his holiday collection — called “A New York Holiday” (or BNY SCC). Barneys lacks any connection with the black and hip-hop community. And without his vast wealth and brand power, they would see him the same as they see Trayon Christian. Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer.
Please join me in calling on Jay Z to withdraw his support from Barneys New York because of this discrimination.
For many years now, I’ve been passionately outspoken about the food justice movement, and low-wage workers represent a key front in the fight for fair and just food.
Those of us working in the food movement often speak of our economy’s unhealthy reliance on “cheap food.” But cheap food only seems cheap because the real costs of its production are hidden from us: the exploitation of food and farm workers, the brutalization of animals, and the undermining of the health of the soil, the water, and the atmosphere.
As a society, we’ve trapped ourselves in a kind of reverse Fordism. Instead of paying workers well enough so that they can afford good, honestly-priced products—as Henry Ford endeavored to do so that his workers might afford to buy his cars—we pay them so little that the only food they can afford is junk food destructive of their health and the environment’s.
If we are ever to right this wrong, to produce food sustainably and justly and sell it at an honest price, we will first have to pay people a living wage so that they can afford to buy it. Let’s start with the people who work so hard to feed us.
P.S. There are nearly 100 fast-food worker rallies at 12:30 p.m. local time all across the country today. Head over during lunch and show your support in person. Click here to find a rally near you.
Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:00pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of S.1197, the National Defense Authorization to allow the Chairman and Ranking Member to provide a status update on the bill.
At 5:00pm, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider Executive Calendar #327, the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett, of Virginia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, post-cloture. There will be up to 30 minutes of debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form. At 5:30pm, all post-cloture time will be expired and there will be a roll call vote on confirmation of the Millett nomination.
Last Floor Action:12/5
2:49:45 P.M. – The House adjourned
pursuant to a previous special order.
The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00
p.m. on December 9, 2013.