My Word: We need Measure R Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

Eureka Times-Standard Guest Opinion, posted online 9/4/14
printed in paper on 9/5/14, page A4

We need Measure R: Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

By Verbena Lea

“Poverty level wages are not a gamble, they’re a guaranteed loss for the community” — Working Families Party.

Working people are ripped off by misguided public policy which claims that giving more money to the already-wealthy creates jobs. This policy fails us because it is based on a lie. When government fails to meet the community’s needs, the people come together to craft a solution.

The solution to poverty level wages is to raise them. Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act, does just that. Larger employers will pay their workers a minimum of $12 an hour. Smaller businesses, those with 24 or fewer employees, can continue to pay the current state minimum of $9 an hour if they chose.

We have over seven decades of data about what happens when we raise the minimum wage. Employment and economic activity go up. Opportunities increase for everyone. In 2012, for example, San Jose residents raised the minimum wage for all workers $2 more an hour. Throughout the first year, unemployment dropped two points and 9,000 new businesses opened. Surrounding communities, including Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Berkeley, and Richmond, are raising wages to keep pace with the competitive, high-wage oasis that is San Jose.

Eureka needs Measure R.

Some believe that workers should be paid poverty wages for doing jobs of “unskilled labor,” even if their labor and time generate millions for their employers. First, there is no such thing as unskilled labor. Every person brings the skills of life experience, social interaction, and personal education to every task.

“When someone works for less pay than she can live on — when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently — then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.” — author Barbara Eherenreich.

The minimum wage was designed in 1938 — to alleviate poverty. Today, the minimum wage has lost so much buying power that families working full-time struggle to survive. When low-wage workers are paid more fairly, they will earn enough to live independent lives. They can save for their future and that of their children.

State and federal minimum wage increases are NOT indexed to inflation. Measure R is. If prices go up, wages will keep pace.

Since 1975, people receiving “fixed income” benefits have had yearly cost-of-living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. Before 1975, they had to wait around until Congress decided it was time for an arbitrary increase. This is still the reality for minimum wage workers in this country. If you’re going to call anything a “fixed income,” let the historical record show that it is the wage of the low-paid worker. We are no longer waiting for legislators to address economic realities. Measure R will result in a fair wage that’s finally indexed to inflation. The cost of living is always rising, and that is not a reason to keep your neighbors living in poverty.

We need Measure R.

Low-wage workers spend their money here at home. Measure R means people can meet their needs and afford leisure activities: go out to dinner and a movie; listen to live local bands with a beverage down at Siren’s Song; take their children to the bouncy house at Bayshore Mall.

More money circulating through the hands of local workers, then passing through local businesses rather than corporate headquarters, is vital to rejuvenate Eureka’s economy.

Measure R is the right thing to do morally. Being paid a fair wage for your labor is what gives dignity to work. Measure R is the right thing to do fiscally. We live in a demand-driven economy; you can’t drive demand on poverty-level wages.

“Someday low-wage workers will rise up and demand to be treated fairly, and when that day comes everyone will be better off.” — Ehrenreich, “Nickel and Dimed.”

We need Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act.  Demand Measure R.

Verbena Lea, one of the drafters of Measure R, resides in Eureka and submitted this “My Word” on behalf of the Fair Wage Folks, a committee of Measure R’s drafters and supporters.

 

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“Measure R: An overview of Eureka’s Fair Wage Act” / Times-Standard front page 9-4-14

By Will Houston  whouston@times-standard.com

from Editor’s Note:  This is the first story in a four-part series looking at Eureka’s Fair Wage Act, known as Measure R, which will be on the city’s Nov. 4 General Election ballot. ….

“…There are too many people living in poverty here — working, but can’t afford rent, working and going to school, but not spending money. City government does nothing to change that for the majority of Eurekans. Large profitable employers can afford to pay $12 an hour, a fair wage.”

Read the article here: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_26465327/measure-r-an-overview-eurekas-fair-wage-act

 

Take the poll on the left too! We voted $15 (Seattle!!)

STUDY: How a $12.00 An Hour Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers

shortlink:  http://wp.me/p2w2NH-7K

CONCLUSION

http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/retail/bigbox_livingwage_policies11.pdf

http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/research/walmart.shtml

Should policy makers consider supporting legislation that would raise wages at Walmart? Should they be concerned that low-income shoppers will bear the cost if Walmart is required to increase its minimum wage to $12 an hour?

Our data suggests that a $12 per hour minimum wage standard at Walmart would be effective in aiding lower-income families. If Walmart increased its minimum wage to $12 per hour, 41.4 percent of the income gain would accrue to workers with wages below 200 percent FPL. These low-wage workers could expect to earn an additional $1,670 to $6,500 a year in income.

If Walmart passed on 100 percent of the wage increase to consumers through price increases, which is unlikely, the impact for the average Walmart shopper would be $12.49 a year (Table 6, page 8). We estimate that 28.1 percent of the impact of the price increase would be borne by shoppers with incomes below 200 percent FPL.

Finally, we should consider the impact of a mandated wage increase on the economic viability of big box retailers. Some analysts suggest that Walmart could not just raise wages, and prices, given that it operates in a competitive environment. However, a living wage policy would require all large retailers to operate under the same standards.

Jacobs, Graham-Squire, and Luce | APRIL 2011 7

Defending the Community:

$12.00 an hour minimum wage for large employers in Eureka:

https://eurekafairwageact.wordpress.com

http://fairwages.org

info@fairwages.org  707-442-7465

STUDY: How a $12.00 An Hour Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers

CONCLUSION

http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/retail/bigbox_livingwage_policies11.pdf

http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/research/walmart.shtml

Should policy makers consider supporting legislation that would raise wages at Walmart? Should they be concerned that low-income shoppers will bear the cost if Walmart is required to increase its minimum wage to $12 an hour?

Our data suggests that a $12 per hour minimum wage standard at Walmart would be effective in aiding lower-income families. If Walmart increased its minimum wage to $12 per hour, 41.4 percent of the income gain would accrue to workers with wages below 200 percent FPL. These low-wage workers could expect to earn an additional $1,670 to $6,500 a year in income.

If Walmart passed on 100 percent of the wage increase to consumers through price increases, which is unlikely, the impact for the average Walmart shopper would be $12.49 a year (Table 6, page 8). We estimate that 28.1 percent of the impact of the price increase would be borne by shoppers with incomes below 200 percent FPL.

Finally, we should consider the impact of a mandated wage increase on the economic viability of big box retailers. Some analysts suggest that Walmart could not just raise wages, and prices, given that it operates in a competitive environment. However, a living wage policy would require all large retailers to operate under the same standards.

Jacobs, Graham-Squire, and Luce | APRIL 2011 7

Defending the Community:

$12.00 an hour minimum wage for large employers in Eureka:

https://eurekafairwageact.wordpress.com

MINIMUM WAGE FACTOID: 62% of Minimum Wage Workers are Women

“In 2011 more than 62 percent of minimum-wage workers were women compared to just 38 percent of male minimum-wage workers. Slightly more than 2.5 million women earn the minimum wage or less, while approximately 1.5 million men do. This imbalance is even more drastic once you consider that women were just 46.9 percent of all employed workers in 2011.”

http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2012/06/women_minimumwage.html

Study: California Families Need $63,000 Per Year To Meet Basic Needs

A family of four in California would need an average of more than $63,000 a year – nearly triple the federal poverty level – to cover its basic needs, according to an analysis of the state’s cost of living to be released today.

The 2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard, released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a national research organization, shows that in every county in California, the federal poverty level falls short of meeting basic needs: housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and other essential household expenses.

Taking all these costs into consideration, the standard calculates the minimum annual income required for 156 family compositions in each county. The pre-tax income needed to make ends meet for a family of two working, married adults; a preschooler; and a primary school-aged child ranged from $53,775 in Tulare County to $86,629 in Marin County. For a family of four, the 2011 federal poverty level, which is based on the cost of food alone and does not take into account regional cost-of-living differences in the contiguous United States, is $22,350.

more @ California Watch http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/federal-poverty-level-doesnt-meet-basic-needs-data-shows-12903