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.

 

Fast Food Strike May 15!

shortlink here:  http://wp.me/p2w2NH-yp

mnemonic link here:  http://urlet.com/worthwhile.defects

Fast-food workers are planning a global strike for better pay and working conditions, with actions set to take place in 150 U.S. cities and 32 other countries in a bid to exert pressure on multinational companies.

Strikes are planned for May 15 across five continents in countries including Morocco, Japan, India, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and New Zealand, where workers will stage a protest at the McDonald’s headquarters in Auckland, according to a statement by activist group Fast Food Forward. Other strikes will target Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC.

The actions were announced Wednesday in Manhattan, New York, at a meeting during which fast-food workers and union leaders detailed how they intended to expand a movement that began with a walkout in November 2012. On that occasion, some 200 workers went on strike in New York City, demanding a pay increase of $15 per hour and the right to unionize without retaliation.

 

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/7/fast-food-workersuniteactivistsannounceglobalprotest.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-chicago-fast-food-worker-strike-20140508,0,804807.story

googlenews realtime http://urlet.com/put.cases

http://fastfoodforward.org/

https://twitter.com/fightfor15

#fightfor15 #luchapor15 #fastfoodglobal

http://fightfor15.org

http://15now.org

http://www.15now.org/upcoming-fast-food-strikes-in-150-cities-and-33-countries/

Fair Wage Folks Meet TONIGHT May 6 Labor Temple Eureka 6:15 PM

 

We meet tonight at the Labor Temple Eureka 9th and E at 615 pm. Look for us upstairs or in the basement.

GET INVOLVED IN A NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE!

Our next Fair Wage Café is scheduled for Saturday May 17.

VOLUNTEER CALL OUT! We need musicians, cooks, bottle washers, clean up specialists, event personnel, drivers, your skill set is needed! Call

707 442 7465 or info@fairwages.org

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Fair Wage Cafe – Jan. 11 @ Labor Temple in Eureka! Noon – 5 Family Event!

shortlink here http://wp.me/p2w2NH-t1

FAIR WAGE CAFE, SATURDAY Jan 11th
@ the Labor Temple, Noon to 5pm

Come on down to the Fair Wage Cafe, Saturday, January 11th! The Cafe is open from 12noon to 5pm at the Labor Temple in Eureka: 840 E Street, 9th & E. Bring friends and family for live music all day, coffee, tea, juice, lunch and snacks. There’s games for kids, fabulous live local music, and everything is Free!

FairWageCafeJan11,2013 (2)

This Cafe is open for relaxation and community building. If you or your organization want to set up informational tables, please do.

The Fair Wage Cafe is brought to you by the folks who wrote the Eureka Fair Wage Act. Family-friendly event. This is our exciting kick off for a successful year which will end in the people winning a higher minimum wage! Live music from local talents including Sarah Torres, Mad River Rounders, and Bill Holmes! Also, Chris Kerrigan, who will replace Frank Jager as Eureka mayor (hallelujah!) next year will speak.

Please share the FACEBOOK EVENT:  https://www.facebook.com/events/555247401229721/

For more information call (707) 442-7465, email info@fairwages.org or check out fairwages.org

See you there!

The Fair Wage Folks

The Rising Wage Tide

excerpt from an editorial in the Springfield Oregon Register-Guard

“California’s bold move is helping to build momentum for higher base wages in other states across the country. In New Jersey, voters could make their state the fifth this year to boost its minimum wage if they approve a measure on Nov. 5 that increases the hourly rate by $1 to $8.25.

Prodded by organized labor and anti-poverty organizations, states as politically and geographically varied as Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts and South Dakota are pushing to put minimum wage hikes on state ballots in 2014. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are leading the way in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

The raises that these lowest-paid workers receive result in increased consumer demand. Fast-food businesses that complain about minimum wage increases often fail to mention that their own businesses are among those that reap the greatest benefits.

In Oregon, minimum wage increases have been a welcome boost for the state’s economy and provided an increase in the wages and well-being of the state’s neediest citizens — tangible benefits achieved without any government spending.”
the rest of it:

Fast Food Workers Strike in National Action for Economic Justice – Aug. 29, 2013

shortlink here:  http://wp.me/p2w2NH-oo

New York City, via gothamist.com http://gothamist.com/2013/08/29/fast_food_workers_walk_out_to_fight.php 🙂

“Fast food workers are walking out on their jobs today to once again protest low wages, demand the right to unionize and fight for better working conditions. The strikes are occurring in 50 cities including New York City, where there are multiple walk-outs plus a rally planned.

The first walkout was at the McDonald’s at 341 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn was there, as was City Council Member and Public Advocate hopeful Letitia James. James invoked Martin Luther King Jr., quoting the civil rights leader, “It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.””

Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-restaurants-strike-20130828,0,3586222.story

“NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fast-food workers staged strikes at McDonald’s and Burger Kings and demonstrated at other stores in sixty U.S. cities on Thursday in their latest action in a nearly year-long campaign to raise wages in the service sector.

The strikes spread quickly across the country and have shut down restaurants in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Raleigh and Seattle, according to organizers.”

LA Times:   http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-fast-food-protests-hit-los-angeles-thursday-20130829,0,7294893.story

Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-protest-chicago_n_3837419.html

the Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/29/fast-food-workers-low-pay-nationwide-walkout

KTVU San Francisco: http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/fast-food-strike/nZf4X/

NBC 5 Dallas- Fort Worth, Texas:  http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Dallas-Fast-Food-Workers-Join-Nationwide-Strike-221626461.html

Flint, Michigan:  http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/08/minimum_wage_protesters_in_fli.html

Chicago Fast Food, Retail Workers Go On Strike, “Fight for $15”

shortlink here: http://wp.me/p2w2NH-mQ  mnemonic here: http://urlet.com/anyway.too

Chicago Fast Food, Retail Workers Go On Strike For Higher Wages

2013_4_24_fightfor15
Photo credit: Ryan L. Williams
Hundreds of retail and fast food workers went on a coordinated strike this morning to call for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without interference.

http://chicagoist.com/2013/04/24/chicago_fast_food_retail_workers_go.php

Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago issues new report:  A Case for $15:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/115415149/A-Case-for-15

Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago / Fight for 15 – Lucha por 15 WOCC: https://www.facebook.com/Fightfor15

Fast Food Forward (NYC):  https://www.facebook.com/FastFoodForward

#strikefor15, #fightfor15, #fastfoodforward