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Minimum Wage Letter from Ralph Nader to President Obama

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C.

September 4, 2014

Dear President Obama,

After years of advocacy by citizen and labor groups, your party has finally made raising the minimum wage for tens of millions of American workers an election issue for the coming midterms. The question remains, though: will raising the minimum wage simply be that ­­ an ‘issue’ with which to slam Republicans without any legislative effort ­­ or will it actually be a top legislative priority this

year?

If you and other party leaders are serious about raising the federal minimum wage, you will quickly move beyond rhetoric about raising wages and focus on the concrete pending legislative path to a modest minimum wage raise to $10.10 an hour over three years: namely, Rep. Tim Bishop’s discharge petition to bring raising the minimum wage to a vote. Rep. Bishop’s petition has 195 signatures already and needs only 23 more to bypass Speaker Boehner’s obstruction and force a vote on raising the minimum wage. These 23 signatures are the direct path to a long­awaited raise for millions of American workers: in the words of Rep. George Miller, who sponsored the bill, “when it comes to the floor, it will pass… we just need a vote.” Passage in the House will ensure the 60 votes needed for Senate passage for by then the political and electoral heat will get the needed fence­sitting Senators. And yet, since the petition’s introduction in late February, there has been little to no effort by Democratic leaders to pressure poverty­ and labor­minded Republicans to sign. You did not even mention HR 1010 or its discharge petition in your Labor Day speech on the minimum wage.

With a [...]

By |September 4th, 2014|Correspondence, News Coverage, Resources|Comments Off|

Ralph Nader: Minimum Wage Support Grows

 

During a recent talk at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson indicated his support for legislation in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. “I will tell you we will support legislation that moves forward,” he said. Later in the talk, Mr. Thompson continued, “McDonald’s will be fine. We’ll manage through whatever the additional cost implications are.” It turns out that, contrary to the stale Republican talking points, one of the largest low-wage employers in the country does not have a problem with a higher minimum wage

We have been vigorously advocating for a raise in the federal minimum wage for several years now. Much progress has been made in that time. Unfortunately, little of this progress has come in the halls of Congress, leaving cities and states across the country to do the work that our national leaders won’t do.

Twenty two states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages that are higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In 2014 alone, seven states (Connecticut ($10.10 per hour by 2017), Delaware ($8.25 per hour by 2015), Hawaii ($10.10 per hour by 2018), Maryland ($10.10 per hour by 2018), Michigan ($9.25 per hour by 2018), Minnesota ($9.50 per hour by 2016) and West Virginia ($8.75 by 2016)) plus the District of Columbia ($11.50 per hour by 2016) have signed minimum wage increases into law. And Vermont’s legislature also recently passed legislation to raise their minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018, but it awaits action from Governor Peter Shumlin. Many cities have also decided not to wait on Washington: Seattle ($15 per hour by 2017), San Francisco ($10.74 per hour), Santa Fe ($10.66 per hour), and San Jose ($10.15 [...]

By |June 17th, 2014|News Coverage|Comments Off|

Labor Scholars, Women’s Groups, and Walmart Activists Challenge Hillary Clinton to Use Her Walmart Influence to Raise Women’s Wages

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pete Davis, Time for a Raise campaign / 347-453-3135 / PDavis@CSRL.org

LABOR SCHOLARS, WOMEN’S GROUPS, AND WALMART ACTIVISTS
CHALLENGE HILLARY CLINTON TO USE HER WALMART INFLUENCE
TO RAISE WOMEN’S WAGES

Dozens of labor scholars, women’s groups, and Walmart activists issued a letter today asking Hillary Clinton to use her deep Walmart ties to urge the mega-retailer to raise wages for their predominantly-female workforce.

The Walmart Corporation is the largest employer in the United States, employing about one in every hundred Americans. Walmart pays hundreds of thousands of their workers less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than minimum wage workers made 46 years ago. Seventy percent of the positions subject to Walmart’s hourly poverty wage regime are held by women. Walmart could empower hundreds of thousands of female workers by paying all of their workers at least $10.92, which is the inflation-adjusted wage that the lowest paid Walmart workers — under the leadership of their founder, Sam Walton — earned in the late 1960’s.

In 1986, Hillary Clinton became Walmart’s first female director. During her six years as a Walmart board member from 1986-1992, she pushed for women’s empowerment in management, but did not publicly champion the wage plight of Walmart’s predominantly-female hourly workers. With this letter, labor scholars (including University of Pennsylvania Professor Adolph Reed, as well as the President of the Southern Labor Studies Association), women’s groups (including Georgia Women for Change and the Maine Women’s Lobby) and Walmart wage activists (including consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Sprawlbuster’s Al Norman and Beverly Moreton, author of To Serve God and Walmart) are challenging Clinton to expand her push for Walmart women’s empowerment to their hourly workforce.

The letter cites specific ties between Walmart and Clinton [...]

By |April 22nd, 2014|News Coverage|Comments Off|

Letter to Hillary Clinton, April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014

Dear Hillary Clinton,
 As First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and in your recent work with the Clinton Global Initiative, you have advocated for the cause of women’s empowerment around the world.  Today we write to ask you to also join us in an important women’s empowerment initiative here at home.  It involves an area to which you have a special connection and thus presents you, specifically, with an important responsibility to make a direct difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of American women and an indirect difference in millions more.
 The Walmart Corporation is the largest employer in the United States, employing about one in every hundred Americans. Unfortunately, America’s largest employer sets a horrible example with its miserly wage policy. Walmart pays hundreds of thousands of their workers less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than minimum wage workers made 46 years ago. With rising housing, health and transportation costs, Walmart workers cannot make ends meet on less than $10, $9 or even, for some, $8 an hour. The cashiers and hourly sales associates at the White Plains Walmart close to your house, for example, live in a city with a living wage of — as estimated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator — $13.05, but most hourly Walmart workers are paid thousands of dollars per year below that standard. It’s no surprise that one Walmart manager even admitted this disconnect between Walmart pay and fair pay by placing a bin out last holiday season to solicit donations from customers for his own needy workers.
 Seventy percent of the positions subject to Walmart’s hourly poverty wage regime are held by women. Most of these women are managed by men, [...]

By |April 22nd, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

USA Today: Give workers a raise

Excerpted from a Ralph Nader op-ed at USA Today.

The long-standing effort to raise the federal minimum wage is approaching showdown time. Opinion polls show consistent support for a raise across the political spectrum. Cities from Washington to San Jose have passed significant local increases, and more are on the way. Last week, President Obama upped the ante with a push for higher overtime pay.

Scared, the same corporate establishment who declared through the National Association of Manufactures in 1937 that the minimum wage would be “a step in the direction of communism, bolshevism, fascism and Nazism” has resorted to spewing out every broken-record argument in the book. Though the minimum wage has been increased 22 times without calamity, the broken record continues to spin. This tune is getting tedious.

Read the full op-ed at USA Today

By |March 18th, 2014|News Coverage|Comments Off|

Ralph Nader Letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

March 5, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner,

What will it take for you to bring a raise in the minimum wage to a vote?  A recent poll shows that 80% of Americans, including 62% of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage. Seven Nobel Laureate economists explained that a moderate increase in the minimum wage would “provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers” while having “little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers.” Conservatives Ron Unz, Peter Thiel and Phyllis Schlafly argue eloquently that a higher minimum wage will decrease public assistance spending. And yet, you still refuse to let “The People’s House” vote on this broadly popular, long-awaited and much-needed raise in the heavily lagging minimum wage.

Despite your lack of support for this long overdue restoration of the minimum wage to its peak purchasing power, I present the appeal of another constituency: six members of your own caucus. In July 2006, 26 Republican House members, including six current members of Congress, wrote you a letter urging you to schedule a vote on providing a “substantial increases in the minimum wage.” In the letter, they argued that the annual income of a minimum wage employee working full time — $10,700 per year — would leave a single parent with two children thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line.  They capped their argument with the strong and powerful statement: “Nobody working full time should have to live in poverty.”

Today, the poverty line for a single parent with two children is $19,790, which by 2016, adjusted for inflation, will be $20,633 per year, still thousands of dollars above the annual [...]

By |March 5th, 2014|Correspondence, Press|Comments Off|