This Labor Day and the Minimum Wage

In this week’s address, the President wished Americans a happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we’ve made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class.

To do this, the President reiterated that Congress should do right by hardworking Americans across the country and raise the minimum wage, and he praised the 13 states and Washington, D.C. as well as employers large and small who have heeded his call and taken action to provide their citizens and employees a fair wage.

The President underscored that America built the world’s greatest middle class by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead — an economic patriotism worth remembering this Labor Day, and every day.

Click here to watch this week’s Weekly Address.

Watch: President Obama delivers the weekly address.
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Women’s Equality DayThis past Tuesday, the White House celebrated Women’s Equality Day — commemorating the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, securing women’s right to vote. Although we’ve made a lot of progress in the decades since, there is still much work to be done.

Tweet: It's time to ensure Equal Pay for women.

Throughout the day, White House economist Betsey Stevenson also took over the popular “I Love Charts” Tumblr blog to tell the story of the progress we’ve made in closing the earnings gap between women and men, and the challenges women still face in the workforce. See her charts here.


Our Moral Obligation

President Obama traveled to Charlotte, NC on Tuesday to address the American Legion and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans from every corner of the country and every generation.

The President addresses the American Legion

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the American Legion’s 96th National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., Aug. 26, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President noted how his Administration has been working with the Legion to fulfill our moral obligation to today’s generation of service members when they come home:

The bond between our forces and our citizens has to be a sacred trust, and that for me, for my administration, upholding our trust with our veterans is not just a matter of policy, it is a moral obligation.


The Economy Continues to Grow

A new report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Thursday showed that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a 4.2 percent rate in the second quarter of 2014. The report affirms that second-quarter economic growth was strong — consistent with the recent string of solid job growth and improvements across other economic indicators.

Tweet: 2nd-quarter GDP increased at a 4.2% rate.

But we still have to do more to build on this momentum. That’s why the President is continuing to act on his own to encourage investment in American manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure, and to help improve the financial security of our nation’s working families.


As always, to see even more of this week’s events, watch the latest West Wing Week.

5 Cities To Watch On Labor Day


The fight to raise the minimum wage is going local.

Congress failed to raise the minimum wage for the fifth year straight in July. Today, the federal wage floor of $7.25 is worth 30 percent less than the minimum wage of 1968, which was only $1.60. But thankfully, states and cities are realizing the dire need for action. Here are five cities that are in heated battles over raising the minimum wage:

1) Seattle. Seattle made national news this summer when it voted for a $15 minimum wage. This is a marked increase from the statewide rate of $9.32, but is consistent with a living wage. However, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association have joined a lawsuit brought by the International Franchise Association seeking to halt implementation.

Most recently, an organizer asked for $1.1 million to stop the increase.

2) San Diego. The San Diego City Council raised the minimum wage this month, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the action. With a poll showing 63 percent support of the raise, the City Council fired back last week, overriding the veto and enacting the stepped increase to $11.50. Now, opponents are circulating petitions for a ballot measure to reverse course. While organizers need 34,000 signatures for their petition, there are allegations that the sponsors are misleading voters.

3) Los Angeles. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has reportedly circulated a proposed increase in the city’s minimum wage around to business leaders in recent weeks. Earlier this summer, the city saw debate over hotel workers’ wages. Garcetti is now expected to announce his plan on Labor Day: a gradual increase to $13.25 over three years, with annual inflation-based increases. Business leaders have yet to release their position.

4) San Francisco. San Francisco made history 11 years ago as the first city to raise its own minimum wage. Residents will again be asked to increase the wage this November, but this time to $15. In fact, there are several ballot initiatives throughout the Bay Area making similar increases. A recent report from researchers at UC Berkeley says that the $15 minimum would help almost a fourth of the city’s workforce.

5) Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is forging ahead and pushing for a citywide increase to $13. Though all Illinois voters will see a non-binding referendum on a $10 minimum wage, Emanuel now plans to take action regardless of the how the state legislature moves forward. 84% of Chicagoans support the increase to $13 and even among those who make over $100k annually, support is strong at 71%.

BOTTOM LINE: States and cities know that it’s time we have an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. They also know that the 13 states which saw increases in their minimum wage this year actually experienced faster job growth. This Labor Day, remember that our economy grows from the middle-out, not the top-down.

Finally! A candid exposé of Chevron’s dirty tricks

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A Candid Exposé of Chevron’s Dirty Tricks
It’s not easy to try to explain the saga of the decades long battle to hold Chevron to account for deliberately poisoning people and planet in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Rolling Stone does a very good job of it, however, in yesterday’s article Sludge Match: Inside Chevron’s $9 Billion Legal Battle With Ecuadorean Villagers by AlexanderZaitchik.The article skillfully explains how Chevron turned a straightforward case into a neverending legal battle – because winning based on the merits was never an option for the oil giant. From blaming the victim to threatening and pressuring their allies, Chevron’s tactics are as dirty as the crude they dumped in the rainforest. The oil giant has launched the greatest assault on corporate accountability to date, yet until now, mainstream coverage of that attack has been frustratingly scarce.

In fact, considering Chevron’s history of going after anyone critical of their actions in Ecuador, Rolling Stone should be applauded for aggressively investigating a story that few others have been brave enough to take on. Zaitchik confronts the sordid details of the false narrative concocted by Chevron to fuel its retaliatory RICO suit against Steven Donziger and the Ecuadorians, but unlike others reporters, he doesn’t let fear of Chevron’s army of lawyers or Judge Kaplan’s outrageously biased decision dilute his reporting or outweigh the facts.

Most importantly, Zaitchik reminds readers that, “it’s the farmers and the Indians, not the lawyers, who continue to struggle daily with the 50-year legacy of oil production in the region.” For their sake, it’s about time the media told the full story.

Read the article here »

Courage V Cowadice

Charles Erwin is a Vietnam Veteran suffering from a number of debilitating and life-threatening ailments resulting from his exposure to Agent Orange.

I’ve met, served with, and led men like Charles – service members with the courage to fight and willingness to sacrifice for their country.

But their courage stands in sharp contrast to the cowardice Mitch McConnell demonstrated when his Republican Senate Caucus blocked improvements to veterans’ health care during the crisis earlier this year.

So when I heard VoteVets was set to run an ad giving voice to Charles’ story and the role Senator McConnell played in blocking improvements designed to help him, I knew that I had to help.

Can I count on you to join me with your $10 contribution to help VoteVets expand their Kentucky ad buy?

I’ve been a proud supporter of VoteVets since their launch back in 2006, serving on their Board of Advisors from day one. Their work gives voice to veterans and military family members in all of the important issue and political campaigns of our time.

But this effort is especially important. Thank you for supporting it.

General (Ret.) Wesley Clark