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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 Apple decided to invest […]

By |October 23rd, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off on Letter to Tim Cook on Stock Buybacks and Poverty Wages

“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 down the Antoniette route and keep […]

By |October 16th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off on “Throw Them Some Pennies” – Letter to C. Douglas McMillon

Letter to Walmart Board Member Marissa Mayer regarding Walmart’s Poverty Wage Regime

Marissa Mayer
CEO, Yahoo!
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

October 2, 2014

Dear Marissa Mayer,

As Google’s first female engineer, one of the first 25 female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, and one of Fortune magazine’s most powerful women, it is said that you have become an inspiration for girls and women around the world. Today we write to ask you to join us in an important women’s empowerment initiative. 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 for millions more women.

You are a prominent member of the governing board of the Walmart Corporation, which 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 at Walmart and elsewhere 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 Santa Clara Walmart close to your office, for example, live in a county with a living wage of ­­ as estimated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator ­­ $12.01, 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 last holiday season to solicit donations from customers for his own needy […]

By |October 2nd, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off on Letter to Walmart Board Member Marissa Mayer regarding Walmart’s Poverty Wage Regime

Letter to John Boehner on Congressional Pay and the Minimum Wage

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H­232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

September 22, 2014 Dear Speaker Boehner,

While millions of hardworking Americans are working more and more for less and less, you and your House of Representatives seem to have no problem working less and less for more and more.

If a mother of one in Butler County, Ohio ­­ your home county ­­ working at the Ohio minimum wage ($7.95 per hour) wanted to make a living wage ­­ according to MIT’s Living Calculator for the county ­­ she would have to work 88 hours a week, which adds up to a little over 12 hours of work per day, 7 days a week. You once defended the placement of Ten Commandments on public property. If this mother wanted to obey the Fourth Commandment ­­ “Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy” ­­ by not working one day a week, she would have to work over 14 hours per day, leaving her with only two hours left to spend with her child, given eight hours of sleep. For millions of Americans, the fair deal of eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, and eight hours of discretionary time has been broken.

Meanwhile, the work schedule of you and your fellow Representatives cannot be more different. You took a month in August off, as well as the first week in September. Last week you worked a four day week to start the month and then another four in the second week, and then cancelled a four day session that was set to begin on September 29. As one count pointed out, over the course of 103 days between the start of August and the middle of November, […]

By |September 22nd, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off on Letter to John Boehner on Congressional Pay and the Minimum Wage

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 modicum of the […]

By |September 4th, 2014|Correspondence, News Coverage, Resources|Comments Off on Minimum Wage Letter from Ralph Nader to President Obama

Letter from Ralph Nader to John Boehner on Conservative Support for Minimum Wage

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H­232, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515

July 4, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner,

In recognition of our 238th Independence Day, I want to highlight over 20 conservatives, Republicans, capitalists, and corporations who have declared Independence from the corporate spin machine on poverty wages by endorsing a long­awaited and much­deserve restoration of the federal minimum wage, now frozen at $7.25 per hour:

Conservatives

●  Phyllis Schlafly, conservative icon, wrote that “legislation to raise the minimum wage would elevate many low­wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending. That’s a tradeoff Republicans could support.”
●  Ron Unz, the former Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, has been campaigning for a major raise in the minimum wage on the premise that “there are so many very low­wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them… would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”
●  Irwin Stelzer of the Hudson Institute has also made the conservative case for a higher minimum wage: “”Surely a policy that increases both aggregate incomes and the gap between the value of work…is worth another look.”
●  When asked about the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, Bill O’Reilly, Fox News host, said “I say fine, up it…Ten bucks is OK with me.”

Republican Politicians

● Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has pushed raising the minimum wage as a tenet of blue collar conservativism: “Let’s not make this argument that we’re for the blue­collar guy but we’re against any minimum wage increase ever.”

●  Fellow Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty echoed Santorum’s message: “For […]

By |July 4th, 2014|Correspondence|Comments Off on Letter from Ralph Nader to John Boehner on Conservative Support for Minimum Wage