Hillary Clinton Was Right in That Minimum Wage Fight and Her Rivals Were Wrong – By Helene Olen NOV. 15 2015 12:48 AM

Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley during the second official 2016 Democratic presidential candidates debate in Iowa, on Nov. 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley during the second official 2016 Democratic presidential candidates debate in Iowa, on Nov. 14, 2015.

Who is Alan Krueger and why did his name come up when Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley were arguing over the minimum wage Saturday night at the Democratic debate on CBS? And is he a Wall Street crony like O’Malley suggested, or a progressive economist like Hillary said?

Krueger, the former chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a professor of economics at Princeton University, published a paper in 1994—along with David Card at the University of California, Berkeley—looking at the impact on employment after New Jersey raised its minimum wage in 1992. The two men studied hiring patterns at fast food outlets located near the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a neighboring state that did not raise its minimum wage at the time. The result? No job loss for the New Jersey dining establishments. There was, in fact, a slight move toward more full-time work.

This was an unexpected result, to say the least. Economists believed jobs would be lost when the minimum wage was increased, because employers wouldn’t be able to afford to hire as much labor. Some have since performed other studies to show that raising the minimum wage does result in job losses. (As Annie Lowrey noted in the New York Times a few years back, “As always in economics, nobody seems to agree on anything.”) So, based on these other studies, the idea that job losses go up when the minimum wage does remains the conventional wisdom in conservative and Republican circles. Jeb Bush, for example, claimed a few months ago that an increase in the federal minimum wage would “make it harder and harder” for people to get on the “first rung” of the employment ladder. It was a big issue in the last Republican debate as well, with multiple candidates adamantly opposing minimum wage increases. (There is also the idea that a higher minimum wage will lead companies to send jobs to countries where they can pay employees less, which is what Donald Trump was referring to when he claimed “wages [are] too high,” in that debate).

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Hillary hints at support for $12 minimum wage – July 30, 2015, 03:55 pm

Hillary Clinton hinted Thursday that she’s supportive of legislation hiking the minimum wage to $12.

Clinton, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, has backed the concept of a wage hike on the campaign trail without specifying a figure — a reticence that’s been criticized by her closest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s pushing for a $15 rate.

But on Thursday, after meeting with leaders of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Clinton got as close as she’s come to endorsing a specific level, hinting that a $12 minimum wage proposal sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) might offer a viable path forward.

“Patty Murray is one of the most effective legislators in the Senate bar none, and whatever she advocates I pay a lot of attention to because she knows how to get it through the Congress,” Clinton told reporters. “Let’s not just do it for the sake of having a higher number out there, but let’s actually get behind a proposal that has a chance of succeeding. And I have seen Patty over the years be able to do just that.”

Earlier in the press conference, Clinton advocated an unspecified increase in the federal minimum wage — which has stood at $7.25 per hour since 2009 — and then allowing states and local governments to make adjustments as they see fit based on regional cost-of-living variations.

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Meet One Of The First Home Care Workers In The Country To Win A $15 Minimum Wage – BY BRYCE COVERT POSTED ON JUNE 29, 2015 AT 4:03 PM



Kindalay Cummings-Akers has been working as a personal care attendant, caring for the elderly and disabled in their homes, for nearly a decade. But she will soon be making $15 an hour for the first time ever after she and her union, 1199SEIU, reached an agreement with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) at the end of last week.

“I’m so excited, I am,” she told ThinkProgress with joy filling her voice. “I’m happy that we have opened the door. It’s a big thing.”

Home care workers have long been poorly paid, thanks in part to the fact that they are excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements. They make just $9.61 on average, while a quarter live in poverty and three in five rely on public benefits.

Cummings-Akers’s wages and those of her fellow attendants had stayed stuck at $10.84 an hour for years before a contract last year brought them up to $13.38. But after she and other home care workers joined up with the Fight for $15 movement, those in her union have become the first home care workers in the country to win such a wage level.

Despite the low pay, home care aides do tough work. For her client and his wife, who has dementia, Cummings-Akers gives them showers, lifts them and their wheelchairs, gives them medication, makes them meals, takes them to doctor’s appointments and talks with the doctors, does the grocery shopping, cleans their clothes, and even helps care for their cat. “It’s a lot of work, it truly is a lot of work,” she said. “When you do work like this, you have to be a very strong person.”


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Working at Chipotle Just Got Better for All Its Employees – By Alison Griswold JUNE 9 2015 1:47 PM

Paid vacation, even for part-timers. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Paid vacation, even for part-timers.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With labor movements gaining momentum, Chipotle is looking to stay one step ahead. On Tuesday, the fast-casual chain confirmed plans to improve benefits for all employees—including part-timers—starting July 1. Workers will get paid vacation time, sick leave, and 90 percent tuition reimbursement on the federal maximum of $5,250. Hourly managers and salaried employees will be eligible for the benefits immediately, while other restaurant crew will reportedly get the tuition perk after they’ve been with Chipotle for a year.

Chipotle’s move on benefits is the latest sign that companies have begun feeling obligated to make their workers happy. So far this year, WalmartTarget, and McDonald’s have been among the big names to raise wages for workers. McDonald’s also boosted benefits, saying that employees of at least a year would be able to accumulate up to five days of annual paid time off. Just last week, Walmart made a few other concessions: relaxing its dress code, varying its music, and easing up on the air conditioning by one degree.

The pressure on businesses to improve conditions for workers is both political and economic. Vocal campaigns like Fight for $15 have proven quite successful at coordinating major protests and drawing national attention to minimum-wage debates. In the last month, the broad-based push for higher wages won support from Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton. Initially out-there-seeming proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 have also started to go mainstream. In mid-May, Los Angeles voted to raise its pay floor to $15, becoming the third major city to do so.

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‘Fight For $15’ workers create recipe for change at convention – by E. Tammy Kim June 6, 2015 8:00AM ET

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at Jun 6, 2015 2.10

DETROIT — Some 1,300 low-wage fast-food workers have come from around the country for the second “Fight for $15″ convention. There’s a victorious buzz in the air, though most of these line cooks and cashiers are new to the labor movement. They are largely Latino and African American, organized by community groups and the Service Employees International Union, and drawn from every imaginable franchise — McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, Subway, Arby’s and regional chains like Hardee’s. The workers still want what they first demanded in the strikes in 2012: $15 per hour and a union.

Fifteen dollars seemed unattainable then, but much has changed. On Friday, New York state convened its wage board to consider raising minimum hourly pay for fast-food workers, and St. Louis was set to introduce a proposal for phasing in $15 across the board. Last week, Los Angeles passed a $15 minimum wage to take effect by 2020, following the lead of San FranciscoSeattle and Sea-Tac, Washington.

“Two years ago, wage inequality was not even being mentioned. Now, there’s talk of how all workers need benefits and a raise, and the benefits of joining a union,” said Terrance Wise, an employee of McDonald’s and Burger King locations in Kansas City and an oft-profiled member of the Fight For 15’s national leadership committee. He has helped coordinate seven strikes in Kansas City and came by bus to downtown Detroit with 150 fellow workers.

A full-time employee paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 lives just above the federal poverty level, which many argue is itself an outdated measure of wellness. According to a 2013 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, more than half of the households supported by front-line fast-food workers rely on public benefits, including Medicaid and food stamps. This, many economists say, is effectively a subsidy to corporations like McDonald’s, which reported nearly $5 billion in profits last year and has been condemned for pushing employees to apply for government assistance.


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