August, 2015

A Victory for Retail Workers in Indianapolis

liftLast week, the Indianapolis City-County Council voted 15-14 to pass a resolution supporting the creation of a “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” The Lift Retail Jobs campaign, a coalition of retail workers, local businesses, and community groups, has been advocating for this resolution to promote full-time work, fair scheduling practices, affordable benefits, and a pathway to the middle class.  Members of the coalition reacted to the victory.

“Here in Indianapolis, the retail industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy and a major employer of women and people of color. But unfortunately, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions with erratic hours that are preventing retail workers from climbing up the economic ladder,” said Mary Kate Dugan, executive director of Central Indiana Jobs with Justice.

“A Retail Workers Bill of Rights would change that by promoting full-time work, access to hours, paid sick leave, and other protections for both full- and part-time workers,” Dugan said.

Shaunteka Campbell has worked a variety of retail and fast food jobs for the past 15 years. She called the vote a “step in the right direction.”

“I’m happy that the resolution passed and proud that many of our City-County Councilors stood with us,” said Campbell. “But our work isn’t done. We’re going to keep fighting for good jobs and a living wage for all retail workers in this city. And we’re going to win because we’re committed and we’re growing.”

For more information about the Lift Retail Jobs campaign, visit www.LiftRetailJobs.org.

Gallup Poll Shows Americans’ Support for Labor Unions Continues to Recover

gallup union surveyThe latest results from the 2015 installment of Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey show that Americans’ approval of labor unions has jumped five percentage points to 58% over the past year, and is now at its highest point since 2008, when 59% approved. Consistent with the recent increase in approval of unions, the percentage of Americans saying they would like labor unions to have more influence in the country has also been rising, and now stands at 37%, up from 25% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage wanting unions to haveless influence has declined from 42% to 35%.

Social Security Turns 80

via publicnewsservice.org

Eighty years ago today, President Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act (SSA), which guaranteed an income for the unemployed and retirees. While the future of Social Security continues to be a hot issue leading up to the 2016 election, there’s no doubt that the SSA changed what it meant to grow old in America.

Prior to Social Security, growing old was something to be dreaded. During the Great Depression many older people were unemployed, and people who had worked hard all their lives were living in poverty as they grew older due to illnesses or the sudden loss of a job.  Age discrimination made it even more difficult for older workers who were able to work to find employment.

Today, Social Security continues to give older people and the disabled some hope and stability in the form of a guaranteed and predictable monthly replacement of wages. According to the Social Security Administration, more than 59 million Americans received $863 billion in Social Security benefits last year, and working Americans continue to pay into Social Security so that they will receive money when they stop working.

At the signing ceremony on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt said: “Today a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last….We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”

Petition Calls on FTC to Investigate Walmart Commercial

raise in payEarlier this year, Walmart released a commercialhighlighting Walmart’s commitment to invest “over $1 billion this year in higher wages, education, and training.”

The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (NAD) had questions about whether that commercial unfairly implies that Walmart is raising workers’ wages enough so that they can support themselves and their families. The NAD wanted to conduct a review of the claims, but Walmart declined to participate so now the NAD is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in.

When Walmart announced it would raise entry level wages to $9 an hour this year and that all associates would earn at least $10 an hour next year, it was a step in the right direction. But it is not accurate to suggest that this increase makes it possible for workers to support their families, especially since so many workers struggle to get full-time, consistent hours.

With $16 billion in profits and $150 billion in wealth for the owners, Walmart can afford to do more. And until they do, the FTC should not allow Walmart to make these claims in its commercials.

Click here to share the petition and sign your name and tell the FTC to investigate Walmart’s “Raise in Pay” commercial today.