The "Fight for 15" isn't just for fast-food workers!

This year, we've seen massive protests for higher wages all around our nation, but this fight is not just for those struggling to live on minimum wage. It's about our rights in the workplace and society saying “No” to corporate welfare. This year, corporate profits hit another all-time high, while wages as a percent of our economy saw an all-time low. Right now, massive corporations are taking advantage of high unemployment – using it as an opportunity to bust unions, prevent employees from organizing, and keep wages and benefits as low as possible.

This isn't only happening in Walmart stores and fast-food chains, it's happening in manufacturing and service industries that used to provide middle-class wages and pensions. Large employers are using the threats of bankruptcy or layoffs to keep workers quiet about low-pay, nonexistent benefits, and other abuses – regardless of whether they're Walmart or Boeing. And, these corporate giants are being subsidized by our tax dollars as they abuse workers.

This fight isn't only about providing minimum-wage employees enough pay to survive on, it's about putting workers' rights ahead of corporate greed. High-paid CEO's and bankster investors are cashing in on higher-than-ever profits, while calling workers greedy for wanting fair pay and a little respect in the workplace. Right now, this fight may be most visible in the retail and fast-food industry, but it's been underway in almost every workplace in America for the last 30 years.

The fight for a living wage is about all of us – it's about our tax dollars, our workplace rights, and our entire economy. If we don't stand with those fighting poverty wages now, there may be nobody left to stand with us when we finally realize that our rights have also disappeared.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 23 weeks ago

The only answer I see to this outrageous pillage of our labor force is democratizing the workplace. We need more businesses that are owned by the workers, not by absentee do-nothing kleptocrats like the Waltons (to cite the most extreme example). I recently read an article about this in The Nation, which happens to be my favorite magazine. That article was full of examples of such enterprises. In our area of southwestern Oregon, Bi Mart is worker-owned. This has to be the wave of the future, or we are doomed to lives of servitude, serfdom and slavery. - Aliceinwonderland

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 23 weeks ago

I think a good answer to this problem is capping the salaries of CEO's. Let's face it, $20M/year is a preposterous salary for anyone. That comes out to a little over $9K/hr. What could anyone possibly do to justify being paid $9k/hr? Crap gold? To justify $20M/year that sure is a load of crap!

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 23 weeks ago

Alice you and I agree on something. WOW. Worker owned sounds great but the problem is how do you get the funds to do start up.

My senior employees are on a profit sharing program with a agreement that they slowly buy me out if they choose to. They start out with 5% and hopefully one day they will own 75% and I can leave and still retain a income. I don't know of anyone else doing this but it seems to be a good exit plan to me. One of the biggest problems with business is there is no exit plan. I do this not only to retain good people but I want to get the heck out of here some day. Ah what do I know. I am just a "high paid CEO" forcing these poor people into "seritude, serfdom and slavery". To tell you the truth I don't even know what seritude and serfdom mean. I have never hear those words before. Too busy working to read i guess.

Although these corperations are making huge profits it is the only thing keeping many 401 K's alive. (I think they are called 401 K's). One very serious problem is where do we put our money when we are finished our work life. With all the crooks on wall street?? In the Banks?? they are not paying anything. It is tough out there for seniors right now. Interest rates are so low. Yet all I here about is min wage. I personally have always invested in real estate but after that last crash most people are scared to death of it.

Sorry but I hear Thom say "corperate welfare" alot, as a Canadian I am not sure what he means. What kind of handouts are corperations getting. Does he mean tax breaks?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 23 weeks ago
Quote Kend:Sorry but I hear Thom say "corperate welfare" alot, as a Canadian I am not sure what he means. What kind of handouts are corperations getting. Does he mean tax breaks?

Kend ~ No, he isn't just talking about tax breaks and loopholes. "Corporate welfare" also refers to subsidies. You see Kend, English in this country can be very misleading. When the government hands out money for no reason to poor people it is called welfare and "entitlements". When it does the same thing for rich corporations it is called "subsidies" and "loopholes", and "tax breaks." That is why Thom, and others, refer to these "subsidies" as "corporate welfare" because they are simply trying to tell it like it really is.

Here are two articles that will help to familiarize yourself with the concept of corporate "subsidies"/"welfare".

It is estimated that while medical services and food stamps are being cut from people living below the poverty line the government anually hands out over $154 Billion in "corporate welfare." As the article cited above in The Federalist states:

Quote The Federalist:If you add these altogether, you see that federal, state and local governments force American families to give, on average, $2436 per year to companies that certainly don’t need the handouts (or shouldn’t be in business if they do). That $2436 could go a long, long way for most families, whether it was spent on food and clothing, vacation, a college fund, or whatever mom, dad and the kids most need. Indeed, considering that the average American family spends around $6500 per year on food, eliminating these corporate subsidies and returning the savings to taxpayers could pay for about 4.5 months-worth of groceries.

Reclaim Democracy uses Whirlpool as one example in how big business is shafting the taxpayer in this country.

Quote Reclaim Democracy:WASHINGTON — Lobbying for special tax treatment produced a spectacular return for Whirlpool Corp., courtesy of Congress and those who pay the bills, the American taxpayers.

By investing just $1.8 million over two years in payments for Washington lobbyists, Whirlpool secured the renewal of lucrative energy tax credits for making high-efficiency appliances that it estimates will be worth a combined $120 million for 2012 and 2013. Such breaks have helped the company keep its total tax expenses below zero in recent years.

The return on that lobbying investment: about 6,700 percent.

The article goes on to explain just how this travesty is allowed to happen:

Quote Reclaim Democracy:The Senate approved tax benefits for Whirlpool and a host of other corporations early on New Year’s Day, a couple of hours after the ball dropped over Times Square and champagne corks began popping. A smorgasbord of 43 business and energy tax breaks, collectively worth $67 billion this year, was packed into the emergency tax legislation that avoided the so-called “fiscal cliff.’’

In the days that followed, the tax handouts for business were barely mentioned as President Obama and members of Congress hailed the broader effects of the dramatic legislation, which prevented income tax increases on the middle class and raised top marginal tax rates for the wealthy.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 23 weeks ago

Yesterday's Bernie Buzz has a great graphic that pretty much illustrates the extent to which bankster investors and CEO's are cashing in on the so called greedy workers.

It's entitled, For Richer and Poorer. The graphic shows how from 2002 to 2012.....90 percent of us saw an income drop of about 11 percent.

During that same time those in the top 0.01% saw an income increase of an obscene 76.2%. So it looks like the pay raise none of us got, instead went into the pockets of a unregulated few who not only didn't need the income, they didn't work for it either.

Aliceinwonderland is correct, we need more worker cooperatives along with massive unionization efforts. We should have the same deal and respect the German workers get......why not?

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 23 weeks ago

Thanks for the replay DAnne just as I thought. I hate when government gets involved in business. Years ago a competitor of mine received a grant that I didn't get it made the playing field so imbalanced it almost put me under. When the government takes our tax money it should be spent on the people not business.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 23 weeks ago
Quote Kend:When the government takes our tax money it should be spent on the people not business.

Kend ~ With the only exceptions of small business loans and agricultural food subsidies, we are in complete agreement. Amen to that, Kend, amen to that!

sheilach2's picture
sheilach2 9 years 23 weeks ago

The United States is well on the way to being a 3rd world country. There are many reasons for this, too many people, not enough decient jobs, too much automation, too much outsourcing, rising costs & decline of essential resources like oil & natural gas, fighting endless illegal wars & occupations that use huge amounts of oil & other scarce resources. We are not "homo sapians sapians" but homo stupideous.

There will be no recovery. To recover we need to grow, to grow we have to use more resources like oil & natural gas but those fossil resources are in decline. Fracking is just the last gasp of the oil age & for an economy that needs cheap oil to grow, we have no way to go but down. We are headed for a economic collapse.

We cannot support needed programs as long as this corrupt government refuses to raise taxes on the rich, the very profitable corporations, raise tariffs, cut subsidies for oil, gas, coal & agriculture, it incourages outsourcing with tax incentives, it permits fossil fuel extraction at maximum rates speeding it's exhaustion & we have nothing to replace it. We are burning our bridge while we are still on it. Then there is the disaster at Fukushima that no one wants to talk about. 300 thousand gallons of radioactive water has been pouring from Fukushima into the ocean since 2011 & radioactive contaminaltion consentrates as it moves up the food chain being highest in the top preditors like tuna & us.

Sure the ocean water here is "safe" so far, but is our seafood "safe"? I am not going to be eating any Pacific tuna or Salmom, I think the crab is still safe but for how much longer? So far, the crab season has been a bust, the crabs aren't there. More radioactive water is due to hit us the first of next year. Will the government be checking our seafood to see how much radioactive contamination it has? If it does, don't expect the government to tell us anything about it, might hurt business. We are on our own, don't expect any help from the government, we have to do our own monitoring of our seafood for radioactive contaminents. Good luck.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 23 weeks ago

Kend, I don't know how funds are acquired for worker-owned cooperatives. But the fact they already exist would indicate they are a feasible alternative to a status quo that is abusive and intolerable, that simply has to go. People should benefit from the fruit of their labor. Instead we have these blood-sucking parasites like the Waltons, hoarding it all for themselves while forcing their employees to apply for welfare just to get by, and it is we the taxpayers picking up the tab. It infuriates me. These plutocrats need to be knocked off their thrones. - AIW

douglas m 9 years 23 weeks ago

I personally will not shop now at Walmart since they refuse to support living wage.

I will buy Creedo Mobile not Att because they lobby for a political sanctions that promotes businesses instead of we the people who actual make the money.

I will not buy gmo foods that have no taste or buy anything other than organic foods.

I will use natural medicines not pharmacutical junk that creates ten other side effects for each pill.

My money spending is the only real power of change I think I have!

Because most of my words I think fall on closed minds.

I can only hope and pray people massively repeat some of these actions for their own good.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 23 weeks ago

Douglas, my ears are not deaf to your words of wisdom. And you're right; we vote with our money.

Kend's picture
Kend 9 years 23 weeks ago

Alice a lot of Walmarts employees have done very well off the Walton's. Not to mention all the pension plans that are doing well also. don't get me wrong I hate Walmart but one of my sons got his first job there that is where he met his wife As it was her first job to. He was 16 and it was a great stepping stone to bigger and better things.

is the min wage in the US $7.25. and is that a national thing Or is it state by state.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 23 weeks ago

Worker owned businesses are perhaps of the most successful and efficient model. Absent is the conflict between labor and capital and everyone treats the enterprise as their own.

In the past executives and investors of the traditional model have tried to sabotage and prevent the establishment of such businesses simply because they were or would be worker owned and successful and they didn't want anyone to know how efficient and successful such businesses would and could be.

The fast food restaurant and the big box retail outlet are to today's service sector economy what the factory was to the industrial economy of the Great Depression era.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 23 weeks ago

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Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 23 weeks ago

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richinfolsom 9 years 23 weeks ago

David vs. Goliath comes to mind contemplating the enormity of an uncaring, overwheming, and ultimately destructive economic engine scouring both our natural resources and the clawing away at the integrity of the society - of the individual men, women, and children witnessing in slow motion the destruction their dreams and moreover, the loss of faith in their heart. There is no greater loss.

Insulated by special tax incentive programs, protected by delussional rights of personhood, emboldened by legal protectionism through immunity from civil liability, a handful of monolithic corporations control, if not dictate the living standards, available medical care, the affordability to pursue higher education, and methodically curtail the right to vote or whether votes can be verified.

Wall Street is at an all time high. Corporations float in money. The rich are still busy with the 2008 Bush fire sale. One quarter of homes here in Sacramento are owned by hedge fund owners With a tax rate of 13%. Congress can't get anything done. The media is consumed with pointless stories arguing the color of Santa's skin And the war son Christmas. One would never know millions of children will be loosing their food stamps.

Perhaps we have become too complacent and comfortable with "New deal" programs. Those before us knew the pain of hunger and detrimental impact of mass unemployment; of elders living in destitute poverty; and the suffering when someone cannot reach their potential. Without these programs, the masses would be in the streets demanding work, employee rights, healthcare for all, and educational opportunities.

Goliath is doing well. David forgotten his moral compass and "unalienable rights." I wonwhat if there is a threshold that might wake up David. How many factories need to be closed? How many homes last to foreclosure? How many unverifiable elections? How much college debt? How many more wars?

i am hopeful. Hoping to keep my faith.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 23 weeks ago

According to Mark Saulys, and regarding worker-owned cooperatives: "In the past, executives and investors of the traditional model have tried to sabotage and prevent the establishment of such businesses simply because they were or would be worker owned and successful..." And why am I not surprised? If these kleptomaniacs are feeling threatened, that must mean it's a viable enough alternative that it could pop their bubble one day. I hope I live long enough to see it. People are tired of feeding these parasites while they themselves go hungry. - Aliceinwonderland

bobbler's picture
bobbler 9 years 23 weeks ago

Re corporate welfare.,

Big money controls America's political process, and so they help themselves to tax payers money., Money that should FEB used for roads, public schools, health care, police,fire dept, parks, EPA, etc, is siphoned off to wealthy corporations (and so the wealthy are first in line for receiving govt money, then conservatives complain there is no money for public services.. Ironically what money was supposed to be used for in the first place).

Here are the details:

In america big money fought hard to overcome regulations put in place after the Great Depression to prevent it from happening again).. The problem is that big business (not small business), when unregulated, become powerful gestalts, profit above ethics, human rights,workers rights, environment, or even the future (since they operate on the three year prospectus).. To sum it up, they operate like a big game of monopoly, and we quickly have one winner (great for the 1-percent, but everyone else is screwed).

America is not a democracy, rather anerica is fascist because big money controls the outcomes of elections (via media ownership, allowing propaganda, and legalized bribery called campaign contributions).. Big money uses the media to activate a gullible demographic to vote against their own best interests, and that of the country (since not everyone votes or even understands the issues, activating this demographic to vote has made it possible for big money to control the out come of elections, by controlling this gullible demographic).

Basically, big business has turned the american political process into nothing more than a cog in a wheel, of the profit making engine of the 1-percent.

This would not be such a dire emergency, except for the fact big business has become so wealthy, they have literally bought congress (a congressional seat goes for a a little more than a million dollars.. Nothing for billionaires)..

This is an intolerable situation for 99-percent of Americans.

humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 9 years 23 weeks ago

This is called the profit survival mentality .When is enough enough never because the purpose of your (the) economic system is to generate profit.

Humans have created this system because they live the illusion,s so deeply that they make them their reality. It,s from the dual illusions of insufficiency and Disunity that the whole economy emerges.The ideas that there is " not enough " of what humans need to be HAPPY ,and the idea that humans are separate from each other ,forms the basis of our entire economic model.

Presently on the planet ,wealth is defined as possessions and power.The Old Spirituality encourages you to have dominion over the earth .We have interpreted this to mean domination.And so,we have imagined that ownership of,or power over,people ,places and things is an asset-or part of what we have called "wealth".So more ownership of stuff equals power and you are deemed wealthier.

The model is the problem the beliefs of humanity that created this model are the real problem.Bucky Fuller said you do not change things by altering the existing model the only way this is possible is to create a new model and make the old one obsolete .This is exactly what we must now do .

Thom,s book,s help us find a way and are profoundly spiritual .Real change comes from spirituality and a new spiritual model that declares we are all one .This spiritual adjustment also says There,s enough. If we take these messages to heart ,we will begin at once to devise way,s of treating everyone as you would want to be treated ,giving everyone what you would want to be given ,and providing everyone with what you would want o be provided .

So growing the world,s economy on a never ending upward spiral is not the solution .Attempting to make it possible for everyone to own the same things .Perhaps another way would be to provide everyone with access and use of the same things.

From Tomorrows God

ekendrick's picture
ekendrick 9 years 23 weeks ago

I totally agree with you. I hope the worker cooperative movement gains more traction in the US, as it has in other countries. I also want to point out that workers in the government sector are also being abused-except for those at the top of the income scale, who have all the power. The gap between the highest & lowest paid is expanding w/ public sector jobs, too. Most employees have been living with flat or decreased wages & cuts in benefits. The Right has managed to convince the public that we have "cushy" jobs w/ fat benefits, & turn the anger & frustration of private sector workers onto government employees. But, we're all in this together-when we lose, everyone else loses, too, in the race to the bottom. A public sector employee losing pay & benefits doesn't help the private sector employees, it hurts them. I want to see everyone have a decent salary, vacation time that's in line w/ other developed countries, paid sick leave (for God's sake, we don't even have that as a legal right!), and a pension, instead of being subjected to the perils of the stock market w/ a 401K. We need to strengthen unions & make sure everyone can be in one who wants to. If you have the option, join a union-they need the support!

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 23 weeks ago

rich -- I like what you say. However, you do realize the irony of saying if we didn't have the "New Deal" we would be in the streets demanding the "New Deal".

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 23 weeks ago

Probably paradox was a better word than irony.

chuck1949's picture
chuck1949 9 years 22 weeks ago

The problem with $15.00 minimum wage as I see it is that many, many union wages are based on the minimum wage. So, when we raise the wage, we also raise wages millions of union workers. Business owners will continue to their profits. They can do that two ways, raise prices or let employees go. Most employers would probably some of both. Some businesses will chose to close up. In our area, I am shocked at the number of small and not so small businesses that have closed in the last 18 months.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 22 weeks ago

chuck1949 from chuck1941 (assumes DOB) -- last things first, you say many businesses have closed in the last 18 months, but there has been no increase in the federal min wage. So why do you think that is happening? I think it is for the same reason that 50,000 factories were closed during the W administration.

There is a third way to accommodate the raise in wages. That way is to decrease CEO pay. The problem with the two ways you suggest is that if they could do those they already would have. If they could raise the price and still make as much profit, why wouldn't they have. One has to assume they have already determined the optimal point on the supply/demand curve. Each employee that is currently working is providing more profit than he is paid. If one fires an employee, he loses that profit.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 22 weeks ago

chuck1949 ~ chuck1941 is absolutely correct. You are presuming that CEO pay is set in stone and non negotiable. The fact of the matter is that CEO pay is the biggest waste and the least cost effective investment of any business. We're talking about people drawing anywhere from $8K-$15K/hr. For doing what? Making phone calls and shuffling paper?

The other point you tragically miss is that the money spent on workers is almost immediately re circled back into the economy; thus, increasing demand across the spectrum; and, ultimately, creating more jobs. A CEO drawing $20M/year can only spend a tiny fraction of that on their every day expenses. Even with the most decadent lifestyle imaginable the vast majority of that money will be socked away the same way a Pirate hides his booty. A worker earning $35K/year will spend at least 3/4 of that on living expenses. Henceforth, raising the minimum wage by cutting CEO's wasteful and opulent salaries and spending that money on workers wages drastically stimulates the economy, and creates more decent paying jobs for everyone. The prices for goods and the number of employees need not be affected.

chuck1949's picture
chuck1949 9 years 21 weeks ago

I am interested where you got the data. I don't doubt what you are saying I am just interested in the source. I was not talking about factories. I was talking about restaurants, small stores, fast food places, car dealers. These businesses are or were owned by local businessmen. These businesses do not have CEOs. You can decrease CEO pay if you do not have one. A huge majority of businesses are privately owned and do not have CEOs. These businesses employed the majority of working people.

currently,each employee that is currently working is providing more profit than he is paid but at 15 dollars/hour that will be still true. There will be just far fewer of them. You think it is hard to find an employee at Walmart now - just wait. I have been an hourly employee as well as a salaried one. I have worked since I was twelve and I know one thing. If a business does not make a profit, it will be open long. Owners will do what they to done to turn a profit. They will wait tables, wash dishes, and do whatever to the business going. They will also have their wives/husbands and children do the same. They will employ less people and more family.

Gross income minus cost of operation equals profit. We have not even addressed the increase of costs of goods and services.

Why do I think so many businesses are closing without an increase in the minimum wage. What cost has gone up significantly or will go up? The largest expense businesses have is health care and benefits. I read in the last few days over 900,000 Californians have dropped their new health care policies because of cost.

We have employer in this area who made almost all of his 200 employees part-time because he could not to stay open if he had to provide benefits. If you raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars/hr, there will be 200+ people out of work.

As wages go up so do prices............. Maybe all employers will eventually operate like Walmart.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 21 weeks ago

"chuck1949", you point out that most businesses do not have CEOs. Fair enough. But then you point out that healthcare and benefits are a business owner's largest expense! These for-profit health insurance companies do have CEOs! And if those CEOs were't pocketing literally millions of dollars of "compensation" each year, the cost of health insurance wouldn't be such a huge burden on those business owners. Therefore CEO salary is a major factor here. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 21 weeks ago

1949 from 1941 -- My numbers are from Bernie Sanders and Thom. Where did you read the 900,000 that dropped their policies?

I agree with economic dynamic that DAnneMarc describes. The only problem with our theory or yours is another epiphany that Thom came up with. If any business quit because of the minimum wage, it would be front and center on the RW media. How many actual examples have you seen? Saying you are going to close if the min wage is increased is far different from actually closing. I think the consensus of all the studies of the effect of an increase in the min wage is that the number of jobs in an area remains the same, but the GDP increases. The RW (e.g. Peter Schiff) comes up with the example in the Samoan Islands (?) of a big loss of jobs when the min wage was increased. The only problem with the example is that all the other surronding island states had a similar loss of jobs with no min wage increase. The base problem was the economic downturn that effected all travel, the tourist industry was the main enterprise of all the islands.

If that employer made all those 200 plus employees part time (in CA did they not pass a law that it had to be 8 hours to be considered part time), did he hire an additional 800 employees to keep porviding the same level of service? All those employees can now go the CA exchange and buy insurance.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 21 weeks ago

1949 from 1941 -- Seems that do one has discussed the optimal price concept. I am not an MBA but my guess It is just the supply/demand curve. If a business raises the price it will have less demand but larger profit margin, and if it lowers the price it will have more demand but smaller profit margin. The optimal point is where the profit times the demand is the largest. An increase in the min wage will decrease the profit margin everywhere on the curve the same amount. Like I said, I am not an MBA, but it seems like the optimal price point would remain the same.

am4dems12's picture
am4dems12 9 years 20 weeks ago

at 63 i could go and try to get one of those 8 to 10 dollar per hour jobs that will only hire for a max of appx 19 to 32 hours per week but then id have to give up a good portion of my retirement (which i was forced into since there hasnt been any desent paying work to avoid retirement). and have the will to work for less money than i originally started my working career for over 46 years ago (proportionatly speaking.) I started out at 2.75 per hr. the then min .wage but i was able to have a car and insure it and save enough to move out of my parents house and live on my own with a 40 hour per week job. WHAT CAN A YOUNG PERSON STARTING OUT NOW A DAYS ACCOMPLISH WITHOUT WORKING 3 JOBS AND IT STILL WOULD BE TIGHT WITH NO SAVINGS.!!!!!!

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 20 weeks ago

Does anyone know when the govt counts jobs do they count a person working 3 jobs as 3 jobs added to the economy?

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