NELP

Dick Meister: Good news for our neediest workers

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000  low-income  workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states. Read more »

Dick Meister: Home care workers need presidential help

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

The country's 2½ million home care workers have been waiting a whole year now for President Obama to make good on his promise to grant them the federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections they so badly need.

The need for immediate presidential action was made abundantly clear in a letter to the White House on Dec. 13 that was released by the National Employment Law Project – NELP, as it's called. The signers include people who are receiving home care, those who employ them and those who provide the care.

NELP's figures show that the average national wage of home care workers, including those working at for-profit home care agencies, is $9.40 an hour. Which means that one in five caregivers live at or below the poverty level, even in the 21 states with minimum wage and overtime laws that cover them. Read more »

Dick Meister: We all need a higher minimum wage

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED/TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Election's over, the good guy won, so what now for working people? Labor's wish list for our re-elected president and the new Congress is long, but certainly the most basic item is raising the pay of our poorest workers by raising the minimum wage.

 About four million workers have been living in poverty or near-poverty at the current minimum of $7.25 an hour – $15,000 a year at most before taxes and other deductions. And that's assuming the workers manage to find full time, year-round jobs.

There's been no lack of congressional bills to raise the minimum since it was last raised in 2007, the latest introduced this year by two Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California.  Their bill would increase the rate to $9.80 an hour by 2014, index the rate to rise automatically with any rise in the cost of living after that, and set the rate for tipped workers at 70 percent of the minimum. Read more »

Dick Meister: A decent living for all?

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsoom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Finally there's some good news for the millions of Americans who must to live on pay at or close to the legal minimum wage. Eight states are raising their minimum wage on January First, in line with state laws requiring the minimum to keep pace with inflation.

The raises to come are modest by any measurement. But any increase must be welcomed as desperately needed and hopefully as a major start toward increasing the minimum wage everywhere to a level that will provide a decent living to all working Americans, many of them living in poverty or near-poverty. Read more »