Hey, surprise. When companies like Walmart and McDonald's pay low wages, their workers have to go on public assistance. And that means that low wages lead to higher public assistance use. In fact, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would save the government $7.6 billion a year
, because working people would be paid enough to live on:
- About half of all workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners (roughly anyone earning less than $10.10) receive public assistance in the form of Medicaid and the six primary means-tested income-support programs, either directly or through a family member. [...]
- Workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners receive over $45 billion in government assistance each year from the six primary means-tested income-support programs.
- Roughly half of all public assistance dollars from means-tested income-support programs that go to working individuals go to workers with wages below $10.10.
- If the minimum wage were raised to $10.10, more than 1.7 million American workers would no longer rely on public assistance programs.
- Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would reduce government expenditures on current income-support programs by $7.6 billion per year—and possibly more, given the conservative nature of this estimate. This would allow these funds to be repurposed into either new programs or expansions of existing programs to further leverage the poverty-fighting impact of this spending.
- Safety net programs would save 24 cents for every additional dollar in wages paid to workers affected by a minimum-wage increase to $10.10.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
A fair day's wage
- Huh. Another retail chain that pays its workers a living wage. Imagine that.
- In Find the boss's weak spot, or make one, Bill Street cites some creative tactics workers have used to leverage power:
And during first-contract bargaining at a small sawmill in Oregon, where the union had won the election by two votes, the company’s plan was clear: block and stall until the one-year mark, then try to decertify the union.
Read the whole thing—workers show some amazing creativity.
At a meeting, the only four female production workers onsite noted that they had no hot water in their port-a-potties—while the men had nice restrooms. Rather than report to the state health and safety department, they developed a different tactic.
The union sent letters home notifying spouses and girlfriends that, effective Monday morning, the four women were going to use the men’s bathroom, until such time as they had decent and clean restrooms.
In the letter they listed the plant manager’s home phone number. For the next four days the plant manager had nothing to do at home but deal with angry family members.
- Jeb Bush shows off his deep knowledge of the Paycheck Fairness Act:
- A FedEx Freight first: a unit of drivers in Philadelphia voted to join the Teamsters.
- Two NFL coaches recently trivialized concussions their players had suffered, and the president of the NFL Players Association is not having it.
- Dozens of Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in the fight for $15 an hour.
- Stunning assholery from sandwich chain Jimmy John's:
A Jimmy John's employment agreement provided to The Huffington Post includes a "non-competition" clause that's surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business's inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John's, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.
It's probably not enforceable, but what low-wage worker can afford the lawyer to ensure that they won't get penalized? Meanwhile, if you believe you're prohibited from working at many of the places in your area you might look for a job, you're less likely to protest bad treatment at your Jimmy John's job.
By signing the covenant, the worker agrees not to work at one of the sandwich chain's competitors for a period of two years following employment at Jimmy John's. But the company's definition of a "competitor" goes far beyond the Subways and Potbellys of the world. It encompasses any business that's near a Jimmy John's location and that derives a mere 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches.
- Ford is adding 850 jobs in Dearborn, Michigan, building F-150 trucks.
- Inspectors find 80,000 safety violations at Bangladesh garment factories. They've inspected 1,106 factories so far:
It found safety hazards in all of them, although Brad Loewen, the Accord’s chief safety inspector, said that “was to be expected.” He added, “The Accord team is now working intensively with factory owners, brands, and labour colleagues to ensure the safety findings are corrected.” The inspections identified more than 80,000 safety issues, ranging from the need to reduce weight loads to a failure to install fire doors and alarms, the failure to have protected fire exits, and the need to strengthen building columns.
Worse, in 17 inspections the structural integrity of the buildings was found to be below an acceptable level, leading the Accord to recommend a temporary evacuation. In another 110, it found that immediate actions were needed to bring the factories up to acceptable safety levels before workers could continue to work inside. All the other factories have been allowed to carry out production while the safety issues are resolved.
- David Dayen, a longtime reality TV worker, lays out the terrible working conditions in that industry:
Freelance employees like me get no health care or pension benefits. If production takes the day off for a holiday, workers don’t get paid. There are no sick days or personal days. If start times get pushed back, so does your salary. I have had start dates pushed back for weeks while I waited without getting paid for the time I expected to begin work. Lower-level workers are often unpaid interns, despite federal court rulings against the practice. And as networks try to squeeze more profits, budgets have shrunk over the years, with more responsibility placed on fewer employees to work longer hours at stagnant or even lower wages.
In a sense, I’m lucky to be in post-production: Field shoots can be downright brutal, working long days (I’ve heard up to 20 hours) under hazardous conditions. Crew members have told grim stories of toiling through hurricanes, production assistants paid $600 per week suffering from heat exhaustion, and myriad other safety threats.
- The resurgence of the Public Education Nation.
- Setback for privatization: Massachusetts may not authorize any new charter schools this year.
- Philadelphia students shut down a screening of an anti-union, pro-privatization film hosted by the city's evil School Reform Commission. One of the students speaks out about their actions.
- Education in Philadelphia under Gov. Tom Corbett:
Money is so short at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, a public middle school here, that a nurse works only three afternoons a week, leaving the principal to oversee the daily medication of 10 children, including a diabetic who needs insulin shots. On the third floor filled with 200 seventh and eighth graders, one of two restrooms remains locked because there are not enough hall monitors. And in a sixth-grade math class of 33 students with only 11 textbooks to go around, the teacher rations paper used to print out homework equations.
- Terrible news: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is ill, with a brain tumor. Unfortunately it means Rahm Emanuel won't face a challenge from her for mayor, but more broadly, Lewis has been a great leader. Best wishes to her.
- Poster child for tenure: Why teacher Agustin Morales really lost his job.