Joe Biden said “…no one who works 40 hours a week in America should still live below the poverty line.” We agree. Call your senators today!

Action #1 – Tell your Senator that $15/hour minimum wage raise needs to be part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Whether this issue affects you personally or not, please make the calls because we are indivisible, and our country is in deeper trouble than we may realize…

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to fight to keep the $15/hr. minimum wage increase as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

More script if you want it: A true rescue plan leaves no one behind. However, previous pandemic relief bills have given little relief to our minimum-wage essential workers, while handing out forgiveable loans and sneaky tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations. Fully a quarter of us are now either jobless or earning poverty wages. There are food bank lines like from the Great Depression and a looming eviction crisis. The stress and inequity of living on the edge of financial disaster are destabilizing our country. A real rescue plan needs more than sporadic checks, welcome as they are. It must include true structural change – an hourly minimum wage that allows full-time workers to live in dignity and take care of their families’ needs, while boosting local economies hardhit by the pandemic. Despite dire predictions from the GOP, a UC Berkeley study found that minimum wage increases had no substantial impact on employment or hours. And more importantly, Americans from both parties, support the $15 minimum by a large margin. If this is truly an American Rescue Plan Act, make it count for us.

For more information, see the Economic Policy Institute’s testimony on increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour here.

Contacts

  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #2 – Thank your legislators for voting “YES” on H.R. 603 – Raise the Wage Act of 2021.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to thank Rep./Sen. [___] for cosponsoring and supporting [Rep. – H.R.603/Sen – S.53]- Raise the Wage Act of 2021.

  • Rep-check here – Brownley and Carbajal are both cosponsors!
  • Senate-check here – Feinstein and Padilla are both cosponsors!

Contacts

  • Rep. Julia Brownley: email(CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper dive – Economic inequality increases.

There is no excuse for any company in America to pay their workers so little that they need food stamps, and Medicaid and rent assistance. This is bulls***.” “That’s not capitalism. That’s socialism for the rich.” – Nick Hanauer

Full-time workers making the federal minimum wage bring home just $15,080 a year; all in all, 11 percent of American workers earn poverty wages. This is a straightforward product of policy, a chosen technocratic outcome. The federal minimum wage has languished at a measly $7.25 an hour since 2009. That leaves it roughly one-third lower than it was in 1968, in inflation-adjusted terms, despite the fact that the country is now much richer and the economy far bigger. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that workers earning the minimum wage make $7,000 less each year than their grandparents did half a century ago, in real terms. And this costs us.

The country’s very low minimum wage comes at a high cost. And for taxpayers, it adds up to more than $100 billion a year. However, despite evidence proving that a living wage doesn’t destroy jobs, and that workers in every county of the U.S., not just in places with a relatively high cost-of-living, need $15 per hour to maintain a modest but adequate standard of living, GOP and nervous moderate Dems like Sen. Manchin have inferior solutions to offer.

  • Seditionist Sen. Josh Hawley tweetedRaise the minimum wage for big business, not small business.” We’ve already given a huge handout to big business and pass-thru corporations with the 2017 Tax Scam. Now, he wants the government to repackage the safety-net payments that make up for corporations shirking their responsibilities to pay a living wage, with a four-times a year “Blue-Collar Bonus Credit” check from the government. It would be based on 50% of the difference between real wages and a pretend rate of $16.50 an hour, and putting a tremendous cost on government to keep track of it all.
  • Manchin – “$11 is the right place to be. Throwing $15 out there right now just makes it very difficult in rural America.
  • Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) released a $10 minimum wage plan on Tuesday, which, of course, includes an E-verify requirement, but were quickly met with criticism from Democratic lawmakers who felt that a $2.75 raise was far too low for struggling Americans.

Background on the minimum wage

When unemployment goes down, wages are supposed to go up. That’s just supply and demand. Quite puzzlingly, though, this mechanism seems not to be working today. Unemployment stands at a modest 4%, but paychecks aren’t growing. Although today’s is the best-educated workforce in history, employers just insist that workers need more training. In other words, they’re gaslighting us. Meanwhile, over decades, employers have built and maintained a massive collective political apparatus to hold down wages. To call it a conspiracy would be only slight embellishment.“(guardian)

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25/hr. since 2009. Corporation have been saying “Move along, nothing to see here” as they’ve taken a record and unfair share of America’s economic pie. They’ve suppressed unions, demanded “noncompetes”, manipulated shifts to avoid paying benefits, threatened to move jobs or bring in automation. They also are operating in local economies that have been reduced to the equivalent of mining towns. – one big employer and no functional union to counterbalance them. These “monopsonies”  – corporations with unnaturally concentrated local power, can hold wages below the “natural” level.

All this has tweeked the tradional economic bromide that wages generally increase with productivity – that workers were paid in line with the value of what they did. This worked from the end of the second world war to the 1970s, when productivity and hourly wages rose almost perfectly in sync. But according to research by the Economic Policy Institute, from the early 1970s to 2016 productivity went up 73.7%, and wages only 12.3%.

Wage growth used to inspire a rise in stock prices. Now, wage growth, and possible lessening of shareholder benefits, sends markets downwards. “In 2018 initial signs of wage growth in February sent the market spiraling over inflation fears – until it became clear that the reported wage gains were all concentrated among top earners. Then everyone calmed down and stopped selling.”

But the story of the corporate abuse of America is blowing up. Abigail Disney, granddaughter of the Roy Disney, has been publicly criticized the Magic Kingdom for a long time, especially since it’s CEO, Bob Iger, got a $65 million pay package, while his employees struggle to meet basic needs.

Big companies, like Amazon, and Target have already started to raise their wages to meet the $15 threshold. Amazon, valued at over $1 trillion and owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with a net worth of $165 billion, was criticized for paying workers an average salary of $34,123 and a median salary of $28,446. They have committed to giving their employees an hourly pay raise (minimum starting now at $11) in addition to 401(k) matching, healthcare and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave and career training opportunities to employees working more than 20 hours a week.

Companies that pay more “…puts a little more pressure on its rivals,” Peter Cappelli, an economist at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, tells Moneyish. “You can get a real benefit by paying [employees] a little bit more than others are paying. “One of the big differences now is that a lot of people are trying to live on these jobs as opposed to a generation ago when we thought it was mainly students or part-time people in retail,” notes Cappelli. Increasing the minimum wage at retailers like Amazon and Target could mean a slight price hike on products for customers. “It’s more likely to get passed on on to consumers. Say you’re raising their wages 10%, you might see a 1% increase in the cost of the things you’re buying,” he says. “I think that’s not such a bad thing that we have to pay slightly more for retail products. Higher wages means more consumption, that’s good for the economy,” he adds.

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