Tag Archives: minimum wage

Florida Unions Call for Living Wage

Amid calls for a $15 minimum wage, Florida will raise its minimum just 15 cents, to $8.25 in January. Meanwhile Target pledged to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Disney World’s largest union organization, the Services Trades Council Union, has asked for “acceleration toward a living wage for all workers.” About 8,000 of the union’s members are making $10 an hour. All three Florida Democratic candidates for governor support raising minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Meanwhile, national movements to raise minimum wage to $15 have stalled following victories in Seattle, San Francisco, and other major cities.

Risking Your Life for Minimum Wage

The dozens of fires that broke out across California in October shed light on the fact that about 20% of the fire fighters—entry-level first responders employed by the state department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire)—were earning just $10.50 per hour, minimum wage. Cal Fire firefighters also work 72-hour workweeks, which is 16 hours more than what local firefighters work. The entry-level Cal Fire firefighters are able to earn comparable wages, but only due to time-and-a-half earned on 19 hours of mandated overtime.

Until their most recent contract, Cal Fire turnover was high, as the pay scale for higher level positions had not been adjusted to reflect minimum wage increases and entry-level firefighters could earn more than their bosses. Also, the long hours are hard on the families of firefighters who often don’t see them for days or weeks at a time. The demands of the job continue to grow with the frequency, costs, and impacts of fires across the state.

On Labor Day Workers Demonstrated for Minimum Wage Raise

During Labor Day, the Fight for $15 movement organized protests in 300 cities across the US. In Chicago, hundreds of fast food workers, hospital employees, and airport workers advocated for higher wages and better benefits through a series of walkouts and marches. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrated with supporters of the national Fight for $15 movement. Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, arguing that it would negatively affect businesses and reduce jobs.

Fast food workers in Boston went on strike Labor Day to highlight their demand for a $15 minimum wage. In Massachusetts, the $15 minimum applies to home care workers and select companies that have chosen to offer it. A planned November 2018 ballot proposal would incrementally raise the minimum from $11 to $15 by 2022.

The $15 minimum wage has been implemented in New York City, California, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis.

Union Negotiates Raises for Hospital Workers

Members of the health care workers union have successfully negotiated a labor contract with Massachusetts Steward Health Care that will raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019 and guarantee workers access to affordable health insurance.

The agreement with Steward Health Care, the fifth largest employer in Massachusetts, is the latest victory in SEIU1199’s efforts to increase wages for members. Approximately 5,000 workers at hospitals that include Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan in Brockton, Norwood Hospital, and St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton. Recently, Boston Medical Center and South Boston Community Health Center have also secured agreements.

In Massachusetts, health care represents the largest sector of employment. Tyrék D. Lee, executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East says, “This will have a major effect in the workers’ ability to provide for their families.”  

Brazilian Court Makes McDonald’s Accountable

McDonald’s workers, labor leaders, and elected officials from five continents testified before a Brazilian Senate committee last week. The hearing comes as the fight for $15 per hour grows internationally. The workers, including one from Chicago, spoke about the companies labor practices.

Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim, who spearheaded the Senate hearing and chairs the Brazilian Senate’s Human Rights and Participative Legislation Committee said in a statement: “McDonald’s is one of the most recognized brands around the world, and this hearing makes clear that its corrosive business model spans the globe as well. Brazil can be the country that leads the way in holding this company accountable. Let this hearing mark a moment where governments around the world join together to demand that global companies like McDonald’s do better by workers and the public as a whole.”

minimum wage map

Why We Need to Raise Minimum Wage

The standard for measuring housing affordability used to be that your mortgage or rent should be about 30% of your income, leaving the rest to cover food, utilities, transportation, medical care, and other expenses. A new report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition shows that in 2015, working 40 hours at minimum wage isn’t even enough to cover the rent of a one-bedroom apartment in any state. In only 13 states and Puerto Rico, can you afford that apartment on less than 60 hours a week, with the lowest number of hours being in Puerto Rico (48) and South Dakota (49). At the other end of the spectrum, you’d need to work at least 100 hours in Washington, DC, Maryland, or New Jersey to afford a one-bedroom apartment on the minimum wage.

The full report, titled Out of Reach, is available on the National Low Income Housing Coalition website: nlihc.org. Thanks to www.aflcio.org there is an easy to read map showing where each state stands.

minimum wage map