REgarding the NPR's stance that $15 an hour will cost jobs:
As we hear areas of the country heading for a Living Wage we see Seattle considering $15 an hour and Washington suburbs Mongomery County going for $12 while Maryland State Assembly can't even get off of $7.25. What is the difference in areas as to the need to impoverish workers? For Maryland, it is Johns Hopkins who leads in political power over the part of the state with the greatest poverty. It is Hopkins that has kept worker's wages lowest and it controls the Maryland Assembly with neo-liberal pols from Baltimore allowing wages in the city to stay at low levels through public policy. Seattle is a rich city and Montgomery County rich....so they are willing to bring their citizens out of poverty. Does that make Montgomery County a good guy?
NO.....IT IS MONTGOMERY COUNTY THAT MOVES THE WEALTH OF THE STATE TO ITS OWN COUNTY TO MAKE IT RICH. WANTING TO ALLOW YOUR OWN COUNTY RESIDENTS HAVE A LIVING WAGE WHILE CAPTURING BUSINESS ACROSS THE STATE PAYING BELOW MINIMUM WAGE DOES NOT MAKE FOR PROGRESSIVE POLICY!
Below you see an article that tries to give the Federal accounting of Living/minimum wage. If anyone lives in Seattle they know the cost of living would have the Living Wage as at least $15. Remember, MIT' Living Wage Calculator is Wall Street's idea of what costs would be......MIT = Wall Street. When it says Living Wage in Seattle is $9.64.....it is lying.
Living Wage was calculated after the 2010 Census by Health and Human Services to be $30,000 a year for a single person and for a family of 4.....$58,000 a year. The Federal Government uses poverty figures from the 1960s to reduce the standard of living in America. It does that because neo-liberals and conservatives are pushing for third world quality of life. The Living Wage of $15 moves us back towards the first world quality of life. In the 1960s the US had a thriving economy when people made strong wages and that is towards where we are moving now!
LABOR AND JUSTICE MUST RUN AND VOTE AGAINST NEO-LIBERAL INCUMBENTS TO MOVE THE NATION BACK TO FIRST WORLD STATUS!
Corporations in the US want to hold worker's hostage to job creation if we institute Living Wage. All that happens is a drop in profit and at billions each year.....we have lots of leeway to drop profit. IT YOUR POLITICIAN ISN'T SHOUTING FOR $15 AN HOUR....THEY ARE WORKING FOR WEALTH AND PROFIT AND NOT YOU AND ME!
Australian minimum wage $15.96 per hour
I thought a higher minimum wage is equated to higher unemployment.
There are students graduating college that are being told to state they do not want people without degrees making $15 because their jobs will not pay much more.....that is the point....college grads should be earning far more than just above poverty!
Fast Food Strikers Pushing for $15/hour Living Wage
By Michael Minkoff / 30 July 2013
People used to understand that “flipping burgers” was not terminal employment. It was assumed that a job at McDonald’s was a temporary fill-in-the-gaps-to-make-ends-meet kind of job. But apparently a huge number of employees for various fast food chains are going on strike in order to pressure their employers to raise minimum wage to what they call a living wage: $15/hour.
When I turned fifteen, I got a job bagging groceries at Kroger. I got paid minimum wage, which was $5.15/hour at the time. Between that and tips, I made about $175 a week. It wasn’t much, but I didn’t need to live off of it. I was just getting work experience and paying for little luxuries. After more than a year, Kroger gave me a raise—to $5.25 an hour. They also made me a cashier. Which meant I had more responsibility, but didn’t make any tips. My raise amounted to less per day than one tip.
So I quit. And got another job. I’m pretty sure Kroger didn’t care. The store probably had another young employee hired at minimum wage before the automatic doors could reclose behind me. And I didn’t care either. I didn’t expect to make a career working at a grocery store.
The mostly free market is a weird thing. When unemployment is high, companies can be more competitive with their wages. This helps them keep prices low. It helps them make money. Making money is the reason they exist, so it’s not a bad thing at all for them to make money if the rest of us count on them for a service.
On the other hand, happy, productive employees are necessary for a profitable company. The most successful companies are the ones people actually want to work for. This is basic common sense. A potential customer would rather pay a little more for very good service in a clean, cheerful place than deal with surly grumps in a dumpy roach motel where you’re pretty sure spittle might be a main ingredient in the “special” sauce. Paradoxically, chasing after the bottom line as your only concern is not the way to fatten your bottom line. Companies that share some of their profits generously with their employees and don’t nickel and dime their customers will prosper. This prosperity might take some time to register. It’s not a quick buck. But it is sure.
All that said, I don’t agree with the idea of a minimum wage, so I certainly don’t think a living wage is right either. Companies pay what work is worth to them. Right now, unemployment is high, so jobs (like in the fast food industry) that require no skills, no experience, and no education are not going to garner high wages. Ever. The current minimum wage is not unfair to fast food workers. Which means that raising the minimum wage will just raise prices. If McDonald’s starts paying people $15 an hour to drop fries into oil, do you think any low-skill workers will be working anywhere else? Not if they can help it. So prices everywhere will rise. For the same people who got the higher wage. Which will result in the higher wage not being a living wage anymore.
Higher wages are paid for jobs that fewer people can compete for—jobs that require less common skills. If workers at McDonald’s want to get these kinds of jobs, they need to work for them. They need to pursue them. Because the right to pursue them is the only thing they’re promised.
Could Seattle Make Its Minimum Wage $15?
By Brandon Ballenger | Money Talks News – Mon, Aug 19, 2013 7:44 PM EDT
Fast-food workers protesting across the country have been calling for a $15 minimum wage, and people in Seattle seem to be taking the idea seriously.
In Washington state, the minimum wage is $9.19 – the highest state minimum wage in the country, The Associated Press reports. There’s an effort afoot in Seattle to push the city’s minimum to an even higher $15 an hour, and candidates for mayor and Seattle’s city council have said they are open to considering it.
One City Council candidate, economist Kshama Sawant, has made the minimum wage issue the focus of her campaign, the AP says. Seattle-based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer supports the idea, telling the AP raising the minimum “is a very simple and elegant solution” to falling consumer demand.
There are the naysayers, of course. Some business advocates suggest businesses won’t be able to survive in the city with wages that high, the AP says. They cite (what else?) Walmart, which was recently frustrated by a vote that would raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C., to $12.50 for some large retailers. The retailer had threatened to abandon building stores in the city over the increase.
Regardless of whether Seattle raises the minimum wage, some are taking the matter into their own hands — including a Seattle restaurant owner who doesn’t want the government to make that call, The Seattle Times says. Tom Douglas believes it should be up to the business owners, and he is raising the minimum wage for cooks and bakers at his 16 local restaurants to $15 an hour, and for dishwashers to $12 an hour. Douglas isn’t changing wages for tipped staff, and projects the raises will cost an extra $1.3 million in the first year.
The city’s typical hourly wage for food preparation workers is $10.51, MIT’s Living Wage Calculator says. A living wage in the city is $9.64 for a single adult, the calculator says, which works out to about $20,050 a year. Many around the country have to get by with thousands less.
“More than 15 million workers earn the national minimum wage, making about $15,080 a year — $50 below the federal poverty line for a family of two,” the AP says.
Regarding Baltimore's Anti-labor stance on this Labor Day:
Did you know that all across the country nurses are marching in the streets against the effects of health care reform and its taking away access of health care to patients and impoverishment of health care labor? You would if you were reading or listening to public media and not corporate 'public' media! The same thing that keeps quiet the revolution across the country of parents and communities against education reform privatizing public education is silencing the market-building of public health and Baltimore is ground zero for both.....
YET NOT A PEEP FROM PUBLIC MEDIA OR LABOR AND JUSTICE! ISN'T THAT CURIOUS?
Did you know that health care labor have deliberately been placed in a position to not be able to organize in Maryland hospitals? Did you know that O'Malley spent his career pretending to be against it until he was governor and now works to keep these labor conditions in place? O'MALLEY IS LABOR'S WORST NIGHTMARE AND HE LIED HIS WAY UP THE LADDER TO GET THEIR SUPPORT! It doesn't count when you hold collective bargaining over labor union's heads to get endorsements!
I have shouted these few years as to where the voice in health care labor as I do education labor and finally we are seeing labor gaining strength as communities and families are saying enough is enough with poverty wages, lost and stolen benefits, and loss of community control over public policy all tied to a too-powerful corporate control of government.
What Maryland has done is to create what was then one of the first quasi-governmental agencies from our University of Maryland Medical System. Think Baltimore Development Corporation and its mission. They pretend that it is legal to have institutions that can be categorized as public but have no public transparency or accountability. They do this because they want to capture all ability of the public to have a voice in public policy and to see where massive corporate fraud is taking 1/2 of Medicare and Medicaid and being used to expand what are simply businesses labelled as public institutions. Remember, health care fraud is the leading health care cost and Hopkins and UMMS are the leading caretakers of that population and neither have any transparency!
PRETTY NICE SETUP FOR MAKING YOURSELF RICH....ERGO POWERFUL AS THEY LIKE TO SAY!
This highlights the oppressive environment for labor in Maryland today and these categorizations of public private partnership are meant only to circumvent Rule of Law and access by the public to what is a public institution (although it is fast becoming a corporation).
We have not heard from health care workers in Maryland because labor unions are threatened and fearful of speaking out. While nurses and doctors across the country shout out against the health care reform and its affects on patient care and labor rights.....
WE HEAR LITTLE FROM OUR HEALTH UNIONS BECAUSE OF THIS OPPRESSIVE ENVIRONMENT.
THESE ARE NEO-LIBERALS WHO DOMINATE THIS POLICY!
U of Maryland Med Center Caregivers Stand Up for Their Rights
Mar 22, 2013 Heart of Baltimore.org
When Jason McPherson arrived at work at Baltimore’s University of Maryland Medical Center last November, there was the usual huddle of caregivers called by the head nurse to provide updates about patient care. But on that day, rather than discuss patients, the nurse announced that there would be a ban on mentioning anything about joining a union or union activities at the workplace.
Francine Fields, a cytotechnologist at UMMC, remembers the sense of surveillance by cameras and individuals when she and her co-workers wanted to explore collective bargaining options last year. “In many instances, the atmosphere was an atmosphere of fear, an atmosphere of uncertainty.”
Because of these kinds of violations of their labor rights, McPherson and Fields are among several UMMC workers who have stepped forward to provide testimony in support of the Equality for Maryland Caregivers Act. The legislation, which is being considered by the Maryland General Assembly, would grant caregivers at UMMC the same labor protections enjoyed by the vast majority of American workers and by workers at every other facility in the University of Maryland Medical System.
Currently, UMMC is a quasi-private and quasi-public institution and is not subject to rules of either the National Labor Relations Board or the Maryland Labor Relations Act. The board of the statewide hospital system is appointed by the governor, and the system receives 58 percent of its funding from public sources.
“This bill does not impose collective bargaining,” said Leonard L. Lucchi, 1199SEIU state legislative director, testifying in support of the bill before the House Appropriations Committee. “Rather, it gives workers at the University of Medical Center the same rights of redress as every other hospital in the State and the same rights to organize.”
This lack of labor protections at UMMC is often evident, according to workers. They report a variety of violations, including surveillance or the impression of surveillance as they attempt to explore collective bargaining options, threats with a diminishment of their work environment if they join a union and, as McPherson said, being told that they could not discuss a union at the workplace.
“The experience of caregivers at UMMC is proof positive of the need for this legislation,” said Vanessa Johnson, 1199 vice president for new organizing for Maryland/DC. “The University of Maryland Medical System must be more transparent and accountable to the people of Maryland." This means people like Fields and her co-workers. Five years from retirement, Fields says that she is taking a stand for the Equality for Maryland Caregivers Act so that younger workers at UMMC, who have their whole careers in front of them, have basic labor protections.
“I just want the University of Maryland Medical Center to consider that they have a number of great employees and that we rely on that institution for our livelihood,” Fields said. “We would like for that institution to recognize us as a part of them and not separate. “There are things we feel that, if a union was a part of our existence there, we could make better,” she added. “We could make the playing field fair.”
Below you see why Maryland is pursuing a private health system that is market-based and not public......even our so called public institutions have been made private and profit-driven.
Health care labor has been unable to organize and demand protection by labor laws because UMMS has been made a quasi-organization and as you see in this article....it wheels and deals with Wall Street without regard to commitments to serve the public. Under Maryland's new health insurance laws UMMS now turns away certain patients that now cannot access levels of care always given by public hospitals. That is because in Maryland it is all about profit in the health industry!
1199 Reveals Risky Finance Scheme, $180,000,000 Debt at U. of MD Medical System
Aug 13, 2013 SEIU MARYLAND
The University of Maryland Medical System, which receives 58 percent of its revenues from public funding, has a more than $180 million debt due to a complex financial scheme that Robert Chrencik executed when he was CFO, and which continued after he became CEO of the statewide system in 2008, according to a new corporation information campaign by the state’s largest healthcare workers union, 1199SEIU United HealthCare Workers East.
The debt, which has at times ballooned to more than $200 million, is a result of UMMS issuing variable rate debt and interest rate swaps. The value of this debt and swaps is tied to interest rates, which, like the spinning wheels of a slot machine, change frequently. In entering into these agreements, UMMS bet that interest rates will rise but it was a poor bet because interest rates are difficult to predict. This gamble has caused UMMS to pay more in interest than it would have paid absent the interest rate swaps. In addition, to cover the bets, UMMS is forced to post collateral. Thus, financial resources that could be used for patient care are instead being used to service this debt.
“Executives at the University of Maryland Medical System are gambling with patient care dollars, resulting in debt—and now they are laying off workers while still paying themselves millions each year,” said John Reid, executive vice president for the Maryland/DC region of the Union. “The people of Maryland deserve better use of our patient care resources. UMMS receives the majority of its funding from our tax dollars.”
In addition to releasing the results of research to the media, a corporate information campaign with billboard, radio, newspaper and online advertisements was launched on August 11 in the Baltimore area. The website for the campaign is www.UMMSCodeRed.org and the Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/UMMSCodeRed.org.
The fact that the University of Maryland Medical System, with 12 hospitals throughout the State, receives a majority of its funding from the public raises other important issues about whether UMMS should be engaging in risky financial transactions:
—The Potential Misuse of Charitable Assets.
UMMS is both an instrumentality of the State and a registered 501c3. In addition to receiving a majority of its revenues from public funding, it solicits and collects donations. We believe that their unique position warrants a more conservative financial stewardship.
--Proper Exercise of Fiduciary Duty by UMMS Executives
Executives who run charities have a heightened responsibility to ensure that monies entrusted to them are used in a conservative and appropriate manner. Compared to the other large hospital systems in Maryland, we believe UMMS took more ill-advised risks that have turned out poorly.
—The Use and Exposure of Taxpayer Funds in Risky Interest Rate Swaps
Unlike the other large hospital systems in Maryland, UMMS receives more state funding and is governed by the State. Also, due to its aggressive growth plans that are state-financed, Marylanders have an additional incentive to make sure that the healthcare system is being prudent with funds, especially as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. Both the State and its taxpayers are potentially on the hook for any losses resulting from the System’s variable rate debt and interest rate swaps.
While other large hospital systems in Maryland participated in these risky financial gambles during the economic collapse of 2008 and 2009, UMMS—which was in poorer financial health and, at times, has had a larger share of these bets—was impacted to a higher degree than its competitors by their use.
Like and share on Facebook: » www.Facebook.com/UMMSCodeRed.org
As you see here the problem for the city residents lies with having a corporation like Johns Hopkins in control of all public policy.....IT IS AN AUTOCRACY. While driving all workers to poverty it hand picks the people coming to the city to be hired into the few well-paying jobs. It starves city coffers with policy that allows money that should be paid in taxes be diverted through private non-profits that then send money back to these same corporate interests in ways to boost corporate profit.
WE SIMPLY NEED TO REVERSE THIS BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE. STOP ALLOWING THE DNC.....CAPTURED HERE IN MARYLAND AND BALTIMORE TO CHOOSE YOUR CANDIDATES. RUN AGAINST NEO-LIBERALS IN PRIMARIES!
Tuesday Mar 12, 2013 6:59 pm
For Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore Is A ‘Company Town’
By Bruce Vail Johns Hopkins' new $1.1 billion medical center, the biggest new investment in urban Baltimore in decades, is a potent symbol of Hopkins' wealth and power in the city. (Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System)
BALTIMORE—Unionized workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital finalized a new labor contract this week in an episode that highlights the stark economic power of wealthy Hopkins in a city badly wounded by industrial decline and municipal neglect.
Late last week, members of 1199SEIU—the East Coast healthcare division of the Service Employees International Union—voted to approve a one-year contract covering maintenance workers, kitchen staff, nurse aides and other workers, says Armeta Dixon, an 1199SEIU vice president with experience dealing with Hopkins and other hospitals in the area.
Though it provides a welcome 2.25 percent wage increase without any big concessions, the contract is problematic in that it also defers for a year the resolution of a difficult issue that could prove very damaging to union members; Hopkins wants to impose a new health insurance system that “would be an economic hardship” on members, Dixon says, and there appears to be little room for agreement between the union and hospital managers on how to handle the issue.
In an interview with Working In These Times, Dixon was reluctant to discuss the economics of the Hopkins proposal, but an earlier estimate from the union had pegged the additional cost at $1,800 a year for each member. If imposed by the hospital at that level, the new health care costs will eat up all the gains from the wage increase, and will actually reduce the take-home pay of the largely low-paid union workers.
The one-year contract, Dixon indicates, is essentially a stalling tactic that provides a little breathing room for further negotiation. Normally, Hopkins and two other Baltimore hospitals sign three-year contracts at about the same time, with similar wage and benefit provisions. But that pattern has now gone by the wayside, and the union faces an especially challenging year ahead.
Les Bayless, a Baltimore union activist who has worked for SEIU and other unions in the area, says that while the healthcare union has some real strengths, it is badly overmatched in its contest with Hopkins. As the second largest single employer in Baltimore—the university itself is the first—Johns Hopkins Medicine is a huge presence in the city. Unionized employees make up only a small portion of Hopkins Hospital employees, and the union has made no inroads at all into the well-paid technical and professional vocations that have made it famous at the national and international level.
Further, the hospital and its associated organizations have invested billions in medical facilities here in an era when industrial and commercial businesses have fled the city. Within the last year, the nearby Sparrows Point steel mill was closed permanently, and the city’s largest private corporation, Constellation Energy, was gobbled up by a Chicago-based conglomerate. In contrast, Hopkins Hospital opened a gleaming $1.1 billion medical complex in an economically depressed section of the city. Hopkins’ wealth and influence are unmatched in the region, Bayless says, and even the largest and strongest unions would be overpowered.
But Dixon says that this reality is not going to prevent 1199SEIU from fighting Hopkins over next year’s contract. Members are already “overburdened” with high heath care costs, she says, and have already begun mobilizing for a new contract fight.
All of this comes at a time when 1199SEIU is developing its “Heart of Baltimore” campaign, a long-term effort to increase membership with new organizing initiatives at non-union hospitals and other health care facilities.
The campaign was launched in 2010 with a low-intensity effort to build political support at the grassroots level. Among other things, the union wants local politicians and public institutions to support a “Free and Fair” code of conduct for healthcare employers that would prohibit aggressive anti-union campaigns. It has some backing from influential politicians, such as Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
A focus for organizing is the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), another large hospital that has long been in the union’s sights. UMMC spokeswoman Mary Lynn Carver confirmed that 1199SEIU organizers have been active recently at the Center’s facilities but declined any further comment. New organizing is never easy, Bayless observes, and it will be difficult for 1199SEIU to mount an effective UMMC effort with the Hopkins contract issue casting a shadow over developments.
But, Dixon says, the immediate next step for 1199SEIU is to reach new agreements with the two other Baltimore hospitals with union contracts, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Sinai Hospital. Existing contracts have expired with both hospitals and temporary extensions are in place, says Dixon, adding that negotiations have already started but there is no target date for completion of the new agreements.