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Letter from Ralph Nader to Congressional Leadership

Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515

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

Dear Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell,

In your comments after the Republican midterm victories last week, both of you struck a conciliatory tone, pledging to lead your now-bicameral legislative majority in a way that reflects the public sentiment and is open to reaching across the aisle. You would be hard-pressed to find a better chance to turn this rhetoric into reality than the opportunity you have this month to bring a minimum wage raise to a vote in this Congress’ final session.

The midterms results were yet another display of the public sentiment behind a minimum wage raise. On the day of your electoral victory, voters in four states — Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Alaska — checked “Yes” for raises in the minimum wage on the same ballot that they used to elect four new Republicans to the Senate. Their votes match nearly all public opinion polling about the minimum wage, which American workers have witnessed erode from an inflation-adjusted level of $10.92 per hour in 1968 to a miserly level of $7.25 per hour today. The results of a Pew Poll on inequality from the start of the year illustrates this public sentiment: 73% of Americans — including 53% of Republicans and 71% of independents — support increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Republican politicians outside of the Washington echo chamber have gotten the message, too: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum all have acknowledged that it is time for a raise.

What message will it send to voters if your first act of leadership after the [...]

By |November 17th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

Letter to Pelosi and Reid

November 5, 2014

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Democratic Leader
H­204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Senator Harry Reid
Office of the Majority Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Reid and Rep. Pelosi,

Buried underneath the coverage of the Democrats’ second midterm “shalackin” in a row is a stark public sentiment that provides a path forward for your caucuses during the upcoming lame duck session. Despite the Republican wave, a minimum wage raise passed in every state in which it was on the ballot. These were not coastal blue states: the four 2014 minimum wage ballot initiatives ­­– for Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — ­­passed in Republican­-dominated states which all elected Republican senators alongside the initiative. If your caucuses were to uniformly and exuberantly push for a minimum wage raise in the upcoming Congressional work session, it would transition the national media narrative away from Republican momentum in the never-­ending horse race and towards whether the new Congressional leadership will be responsive to the public sentiment and needs of American workers.

The voting public may have elected Republicans to run Congress, but that does not mean the public sentiment is behind Republican policies. Take the results of a Pew Poll on inequality from the start of the year. While every single Republican House member refused to sign a discharge petition to bring raising the minimum wage to a vote, 73% of Americans ­­ including 53% of Republicans and 71% of independents ­­ support increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. While Republican politicians refuse to address income inequality and wage stagnation, 65% of Americans –­­ including 61% of Republicans and 67% of independents –­­ believe that the gap between the [...]

By |November 5th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

Cory Gardner: Fringe on the Minimum Wage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement by Ralph Nader on Colorado Senate Race: “Cory Gardner: Fringe on the Minimum Wage”

Over the years, Cory Gardner has not held back from letting Coloradans know how staunchly opposed he is to minimum wage raises. In 2006, he opposed a ballot initiative to raise the Colorado minimum wage. In 2007, he again voted against raising the Colorado minimum wage. And earlier this year, he spoke out against pending legislation to modestly raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

What he is not letting on, though, is how fringe his minimum wage position is relative to history, modern economics, business interests, conservative principles and the public sentiment.

Fringe relative to history: The federal minimum wage is as American as Elvis, enacted in 1938 by an overwhelming majority in Congress. It has been raised over 20 times and has ­­ despite near­constant cry­wolfs by corporate lobbyists ­­ never caused a problem. As Republican Congressman Don Young put it, “I have been through three different minimum wage increases and I have not seen that much of a negative impact to our economy.” A raise in the federal minimum wage today from $7.25 to $10.10 ­­ benefitting tens of millions of American workers ­­ would be no different. In fact, today’s push for a higher minimum raise is less of a raise in the minimum wage and more of a restoration of the minimum wage, seeing as the minimum wage 46 years ago was $10.94, adjusted for inflation.

Fringe relative to economics: Earlier this year, seven Nobel Prize­winning economists and eight former presidents of the American Economic Association endorsed a higher minimum wage, arguing the “a minimum­wage increase would provide a much­needed boost to the earnings [...]

By |October 29th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

Letter to Tim Cook on Stock Buybacks and Poverty Wages

Tim Cook
CEO, Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

October 23, 2014

Dear Mr. Cook,

“Designed by Apple in California” has a nicer ring to it than “Assembled by workers paid about a dollar per hour, working 11­hour shifts, and sleeping eight to a room in the Jabil Circuit corporate dormitories in Wuxi, China.” But, no matter how you spin it on the iPhone packaging, you continue to turn away from the horrid working conditions and miserly pay at your Chinese factories. Just last month, while you displayed ­­ through a two hour event on the ins­and­outs of tiny iPhone 6 and Apple Watch design breakthroughs ­­ how capable your company is of solving problems it cares to solve, China Labor Watch and Green America revealed ­­ in their newest report, “Two Years of Broken Promises” ­­ how you have failed to apply even a modicum of the problem­solving focus you bring for product design to the “serious health and safety, environmental, and human rights violations” at Chinese factories assembling the iPhone.

“That’s the price of affordable phones,” says the corporatist argument. This could be the case, if Apple was just barely profitable. But, as revealed in a recent letter responding to Carl Icahn’s call for more stock buybacks (you respond to billionaire’s pleas much more often than workers’ pleas), Apple is planning to have repurchased $130 billion of its own shares by the end of next year. In short, Apple is so profitable, that it does not know what to do with $130 billion except buy back stock from its shareholders to maybe boost its share price.

There are many alternate ways could have spent its surplus profits. For example, what if [...]

By |October 23rd, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

“Throw Them Some Pennies” – Letter to C. Douglas McMillon

C. Douglas McMillon
CEO, Walmart
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716

October 16, 2014

Dear Mr. McMillon,

After this week’s announcement that Walmart will no longer pay a couple thousand of its workers the exact minimum wage, perhaps we should retire Marie Antoinette’s idiom “Let them eat cake!” and replace it with C. Douglas McMillon’s “Throw them some pennies!”

In response to years of pressure to end your poverty wage regime, this is a cynical and disingenuous tactic. You know that the problem has never been specifically that you pay 6,000 of your workers the exact minimum wage, but rather that you pay hundreds of thousands of your employees less per hour than all Walmart
workers made 46 years ago, when the minimum wage was $10.92 in today’s dollars.

You say you want to “invest in your associate base,” but the only associates you appear to be investing in are your multi­millionaire associates. You sure invested in your shareholder associates, spending $51 billion in excess capital on stock buybacks. You sure invested in your executive associates, taking in $12,307 per hour
in executive compensation, meaning that by noon on your first day back from New Years, you had already made more in wages than your associates were going to make from toiling in your stores for the entire year. But when studies have shown that it would take ­­ if all costs were passed to the consumer ­­ only 47 cents per customer per trip to raise all Walmart wages to $12, your workers can no longer take you seriously when you say you are trying to “invest in your associate base.”

In response to workers’ demands for a liveable wage, you can continue [...]

By |October 16th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off|

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By |October 6th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|