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Labor Report

Veterans Day & Unemployment

Jobs and Employment for VeteransWith the call for employers to hire veterans, the unemployment rate for these brave women and men has fallen, but there’s more to do to honor the promises our federal government made to them when they enlisted. Veterans believe this and the statistics underscore how they are feeling.

According to a new survey by Disabled American Veterans, more than one-in-four veterans believes the government has broken promises made to them while 43 percent disagree or strongly disagree with the notion that “the federal government treats veterans well.”

The good news for veterans is more of them are finding work after taking off their uniforms. According to 2014 statistics, the national unemployment rate for vets 18 years old and older was 5.3 percent. In Pennsylvania, it was 4.7 percent.

However, for veterans who volunteered to defend our freedoms since 9/11, the unemployment rate for our soldiers is about 66 percent higher in Pennsylvania at 7.8 percent. Nationally, the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate is an unacceptable 7.2 percent.

The higher post-9/11 unemployment numbers points to something the Wall Street Journal reported today:

“Nearly two-thirds of veterans from recent wars said their qualifications don’t translate well to the civilian job market, and 59% said civilians don’t understand what vets are dealing with when coming home from war, a number higher than the 45% of Vietnam-era vets who said the same thing.”

vetsOn the eve of Veterans Day in America, if you are an employer, I ask you to redouble your efforts in hiring veterans. These brave women and men are battle tested, tough, determined, can work in a highly pressurized atmosphere, and are not afraid of deadlines. They’re also very willing to learn.

Thank you to all of our veterans. You are the reason we are living the lives we enjoy so much today.

Chunky Monkey® Minimum Wage

Time to Raise the Min WageIn my ongoing battle to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from its poverty-level $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, I take solace in reading about companies that demonstrate my argument that a higher base hourly rate is actually good for workers and for business, and does nothing tangible towards destroying … anything.

While we are bare-knuckling it in Harrisburg to deliver what might soon look like a token increase in the minimum wage, supporters of $15 floors – like the owners of Ben & Jerry’s – are stepping up.

The Vermont-based ice cream manufacturer is voicing its support of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his call for a $15 base hourly rate.

“We've paid a living wage for more than 20 years, sparing our employees the struggle of trying to make it on wages that don't even cover basic expenses,” Ben & Jerry’s Board Chairman Jeff Furman said today in the New York Post. “In return, our company is spared the cost of high employee turnover.”

ben & JerrysBen & Jerry’s now pays a minimum wage of $16.92, which is 133 percent more than what Pennsylvania requires its employers to pay.

True, not every company is Ben & Jerry’s, but every company has employees – people – who are worrying about how they are going to buy food and pay their bills while they are working.

And the call to increase the minimum wage to $15 – 106 percent higher than PA’s $7.25 an hour – continues today as fast-food workers in 270 American cities are picketing for the higher wage.

Labor Corner

No commentary here, just some labor-related news items from the week that I want to share:

Court to weigh class actions in Tyson Foods labor case

Vietnam agrees to U.S. terms on labor rights in Pacific trade deal

Chipotle Ordered To Rehire Fired Worker Who Joined Fight For $15

Pope condemns 'cancer' of exploitative labor