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Labor Report

Most Likely, You're Not a Contractor

Because more workers are complaining that their employers are not treating them as employees – and shifting the cost of employment to them – the U.S. Labor Department said this week that most people who work for a company are, indeed, employees.

WorkersRead more in the Washington Post.

The “guidance” is apropos because it falls on the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act.

“Under the NLRA … a worker’s fundamental right to organize and collectively bargain became the law of the land. And to enforce that law, Congress created an agency dedicated to resolving disputes and preventing unfair labor practices,” Roll Call reported on Tuesday.

In other words, the opposite of protecting workers is happening now, what with so many states – including Pennsylvania – trying to become so-called “right to work.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers opposed to unions will, no doubt, be fueled by a recent Lancaster County decision against the PSEA.

The Fairness Center advocated for the plaintiffs – school teachers who objected to paying union dues on religious grounds – and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation was also at play here. reported that the teachers wanted their union dues to be donated to charities of their choosing but the PSEA rejected those requests.

Minimum Wage Tom Foolery

If columnist Tim Worstall had his way, there would be no minimum wage and bliss would rule the land. Despite his constant nay saying about the base hourly rate, real-world examples continue to confound him, and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

This week, Worstall cited a United Kingdom study that poo-poos a “national living wage” because it would spark higher prices and, you guessed it, job loss.

However, on this side of the pond, a Seattle online news organization reported that a higher minimum wage isn’t hurting fast-food restaurants (like every critic warned it would) because McDonald’s is hiring.

WomenReal world example #2 is more like a creative minimum wage boost. M’lady’s Records of Portland, OR, announced that it is now offering a wage gap discount to women, since we, on average, earn 77 percent of what men are paid for performing the same job.

Brilliant, I say! Read NPR’s interview of the company’s Brett Lyman, here.

RWE#3 comes courtesy of Starbucks and many of America’s biggest job creators. They announced their plans Monday for the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative” to find jobs for 100,000 of the country’s unemployed 16 – 24 year olds.

Bottom line: These companies want to pay the higher minimum wages they are now paying their employees … to 100,000 more workers!

The arguments against an increase in the minimum wage – no matter who utters them or where they live have – historically and currently – fallen flat.

Pennsylvania lawmakers and industry “leaders” who kick and scream in opposition to a long-overdue hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 can only repeat unsupported conjecture.

InequalityBut here are some sobering realities of the minimum wage, thanks to the World Economic Forum:

When taxes are deducted from the U.S.’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a worker’s purchasing power falls to $6.26 an hour, which places us 11th behind countries like Australia (1st at $9.54), France (5 at $8.24) and Canada (9th at $7.18).

“However the ranking would look quite different if each country’s minimum wage was compared to its median wage. In that case Turkey would be top, with its minimum standing at a little under 70% of the median. The United States would be near the bottom, at just 37% – marginally ahead of Mexico and the Czech Republic,” the World Economic Forum reported.

And one more thing:

The World Economic Forum is also reporting that income equality is also a growing problem.

The U.S.’s ratio of the average income of the richest 10 percent to the poorest 10 percent is now 3rd in the world at 18.8. Only Mexico and Chile are worse, and that’s nothing in which to be proud.

“The evidence shows that high inequality is bad for growth. The case for policy action is as much economic as social. By not addressing inequality, governments are cutting into the social fabric of their countries and hurting their long-term economic growth,” said Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

Sen. Bodack, RIP

You might not remember Sen. Len Bodack, but I do. Sadly, he died July 9. Len fought tirelessly for workers and the unemployed. I know we would be working side-by-side on the minimum wage if he was still with us.

Rest in peace, senator.