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Labor Report

Minimum Wage Doings

We are moving closer to reintroducing legislation that would finally increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. I plan to announce my new package of bills on Tuesday during Raise The Wage PA’s day of action in Harrisburg.

DollarI came across a couple of minimum wage stories this week that put a bemused smile on my face. Bemused because it truly is remarkable how twisted opponents of a higher minimum wage become as they try to articulate why higher base hourly rates won’t work.

The first story is about a comment made by California Republican Congressman Tom McClintock on C-SPAN:

Raising the base hourly rate, he said, “would rip the first rung in the ladder of opportunity for teenagers, for minorities, for people who are trying to get into the job market for their first job.”

Because …

“If your labor is an unskilled person just entering the workforce is worth say $7 an hour at a job and the minimum wage is $10, you have just been made permanently unemployable. That first rung of the economic ladder has been ripped out and you can’t get on it,” McClintock said.

If this were true, it would have happened during every one of the 22 times the minimum wage has been increased during its 77 year existence. The other significant problem with the representative’s theory is this: The typical minimum wage earner is not a teenager. Most are 20 years old or older and more than half (55 percent) are women.

The other gem this week came from a opinion piece by Don Susswein, who served as the tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, and is now a Principal in McGladrey’s Washington National Tax practice, who deduced that a higher minimum wage would force companies like Starbucks to fire all of its cashiers and replace them with machines.

Don came to his own conclusion by taking a comment out of context that was uttered by former Starbucks President Howard Behar.

Because Starbucks is one of the country’s unique, innovative companies and is farther ahead than most in implementing a cashless society, Behar said people “shouldn’t be surprised if Starbucks goes to all-cashless payments.” Don took license with that and followed it with: “because then Starbucks wouldn’t have to employ cashiers.”

Starbucks is the same company that turned heads when it announced last summer that it would pay two years of tuition to help its employees graduate from college. It’s also the same company that already pays its employees much more than the minimum! Don should pick a better example to prove his false point.

Meanwhile, in the real minimum wage world, I smiled a good smile when I heard this week that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants his state’s base hourly wage to be $10.50 by the end of next year. If it happens, it would mean New York will have the highest minimum wage in the country.

Hey, but if the opponents of a higher minimum wage are correct, maybe all of the companies that flee New York will move to Pennsylvania because saving $3.25 an hour would be so worth it? Please.

Philly Teachers' Union Wins

Commonwealth Court defended workers’ rights in a big way this week when it said on Thursday that the Philadelphia School District’s School Reform Commission cannot tear up its contract with its teachers’ union and declare its own terms.

EducationMuch of the financial issues experienced by the Philly school system were exacerbated by the Corbett administration, so the SRC, which holds many Corbett administration appointees, thought it could do what it wanted.

In its decision, Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough noted that the SRC did not have the proper authority to unilaterally act.

“To effectuate its desired means, the SRC must look to the General Assembly to enact legislation providing it with the authority to proceed with unilateral modifications that alter an expired CBA (or the status quo) in the absence of an impasse,” McCullough wrote in her opinion. “Because the legislature has not granted such authority, and in the proper exercise of judicial restraint, we must find that PFT established a clear right to relief on the merits which was sufficient to warrant the entry of a permanent injunction.”

I’m hopeful that the proper financial relief for Philly and all Pennsylvania’s troubled schools will come from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and the work the legislature is now doing to more equitably fund basic education.

Help WantedPA Unemployment

More people were working in December. The state Department of Labor and Industry said today the unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent in the last month of 2014.

Employment increased by 13,000 jobs.

Read more here.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

American Income LifeWhen you choose a product, it’s important to know the values and practices of the company behind that product. At the Hausman Agency for American Income Life (AIL), located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, not only are employees given the opportunity to determine their own salaries, but also, customers receive the high level of service and support they deserve from their life insurance company. And, now minimum wage earners can count on this company, as well, for support in their struggle to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage rate.

For more than 50 years, AIL has been meeting the supplemental life insurance needs of individuals belonging to labor unions and credit unions. By personalizing its services and catering to its customers, AIL is a breath of fresh air in an impersonal, corporate-driven world. While operating as a nationwide company, it has maintained a customer-oriented approach that allows individuals to feel content and secure in their life insurance choices. In fact, its customers are so pleased with its services that word-of-mouth is one of the most popular ways for new customers to learn about AIL.

AIL is a quality employer and a company you can trust for full support during some of the most difficult times of your life. For anyone who may be in the market for supplemental life insurance, remember to research the companies you are considering and don’t forget to check out the Hausman Agency for American Income Life as a top-notch business and a friend of workers everywhere.