Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Fair Wages & Benefits

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Background from Senator Patty Murray’s office:

Addressing hundreds of low-wage workers outside the U.S. Capitol, Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I’m so proud of the strong steps taken in our state to make sure that full-time work doesn’t leave people in our communities living in poverty,” Senator Murray said.

“I believe we need a $15 federal minimum wage to bring that progress to communities nationwide. It’s the right thing to do for working parents, for the nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers who are women, and as I’ve heard from business owners in our state, it’s the right thing to do for our local economies.”

“It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills,” Senator Sanders said.

“In the year 2017, a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”

Cosponsors include Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, and Maria Cantwell, Washington and Oregon’s other representatives in the United States Senate.

Read a summary of the bill here.

Read a copy of the bill here.

Recommended Link

How we won the fight for $15

Civic Skunk Works’ Paul Constant explains how we won the fight for $15 and how progressives can keep moving forward in Donald Trump’s America.


Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives.

Bernie Sanders: Carrier just showed corporations how to beat Donald Trump

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Increasing the minimum wage makes business sense

Business owner Richard Correa makes the argument that increasing the minimum wage isn’t just about economic justice. It also makes good business sense.

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This morning, Pope Francis became the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint session of the United States Congress.

In his beautifully framed speech, firmly rooted in humanity’s universal progressive values, he urged Congress to act to address income inequality, the climate crisis, and immigration. He also called for the abolition of the death penalty.

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While it seems almost everyone is in thrall to the visiting pontiff, many in the Republican base dislike much of what he has to say: climate change and poverty deniers reject his encyclical on degrading the planet or his call to help the poor; hawks can’t abide papal advice to make love, not war; immigration hardliners find him too soft, the list goes on.

— Political columnist Margaret Carlson: Republicans will tune out half of what Pope Francis says (via Bloomberg View).

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The President spoke at the annual Labor Day Breakfast, a prominent gathering of union organizers and labor leaders in Boston, Massachusetts.

Here’s an excerpt from the speech:

You’ve got to say more than America is great and that’s it. You’ve got to work for it.  It’s not just to say America is exceptional. You’ve got to prove it. You’ve got to work to keep it that way. And that’s what generations of the labor movement have done.

It was hardworking Americans who marched and organized to help working families get ahead. It was hardworking folks who demanded not simply a bigger paycheck for themselves, but more security for the folks working next to them, too.

They were the ones who were out in the cold on picket lines. They were the folks who were dealing with the Pinkertons. They were the folks who sometimes got beat or got fired for organizing; got threatened and stood up for an idea that everybody deserves a fair shake.

And those folks — your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents — they’re the ones who gave us the forty-hour workweek.

They’re the ones who gave us overtime and the minimum wage, and all kinds of things that folks now take for granted. It was those fights that gave us health insurance and Social Security, and Medicare, and retirement plans. All those gains are union-made. They’re stamped with the union label. They’re what we celebrate today.

The President touted the United States as “the number one place to invest”, noting that America’s laborers are the nation’s real profit creators.

Recommended Link

The three biggest right wing lies about poverty

Robert Reich effectively debunks three lies peddled by right wing elected officials and think tank operatives about America’s poor.


Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money… Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.

— Pope Francis, addressing activists in Bolivia (via The New York Times)

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Los Angeles City Council approves minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020

America’s second largest city has just joined Seattle and other cities in raising its minimum wage to $15 within the next few years.


The “anti-capitalists” won’t take their message to the places the economic elite actually live in comfort. The workers they claim to stand for will have to stand for transit delays and traffic jams.

— Jon Talton: About that ‘anti-capitalist’ march

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The right wing is wrong: $15/hour minimum wage isn’t causing restaurants to close in Seattle

The Seattle Times‘ Bethany Jean Clement busts a myth being promulgated by the right wing Washington Policy Center that Seattle’s planned minimum wage increase is causing Emerald City restaurants to close.


They think $12 is high! Here’s their real choice: They can accept $12 now, or it will be much, much higher. If you’re the Association of Washington Business, you should run, not walk, to Olympia and demand they pass that $12 wage bill.

— Venture capitalist and well known philanthropist Nick Hanauer, telling Danny Westneat that the state’s business lobbies would be wise to embrace raising minimum wages to $12 now, or have an initiative campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage to $16 to look forward to in 2016.


Disney raises ticket prices for its theme parks, again

The Walt Disney Company (parent corporation of ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and other properties) has once again decided to raise the price of admission to its amusement parks including Disneyland in southern California and the various lands that make up Walt Disney World in central Florida. The new rates range from $99 for a person ten or older at Disneyland to $105 for the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. That’s admission for a single person on a single day!

Now, Disney does sell multi-day tickets and packages at a discount, but still… a hundred bucks is a lot for one person to pay just to get into an amusement park for one day. For a family of five, going to Disneyland for a day costs nearly $500.

That’s a lot of money.

To put the cost in perspective: A single parent getting paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work over forty-five hours just to earn the money to afford to get in the gates for a day with two kids.

And once inside, they’d find it difficult not to spend more money on food, plus the temptation of merchandise that Disney offers for sale at every corner.

When Disneyland first opened in the 1950s, admission was $1 and tickets to attraction were extra. When Disney World opened in the 1970s, admission was $3.50. Admission has since gone up, as has the cost of living. But worker wages have been largely flat; income inequality in America has gotten much worse.

As a consequence, fewer families can readily afford to spend a week at Disney’s theme parks. The irony is, the so-called happiest places on Earth are only accessible to those who can afford to get in and not worry about the expense of a vacation.


To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

Patricia Arquette, ending her Academy Awards acceptance speech with a call for economic justice and women’s rights. Arquette won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the widely acclaimed motion picture Boyhood.

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Surprise! The rich benefit the most from tax breaks intend to help people build wealth

Bloomberg reports that most of the public money spent to encourage savings went to the highest-earning Americans. It’s just another reminder that trickle-down doesn’t.


That the GOP is now tilting at the one percent is one of the more remarkable messaging flip-flops of all time. Not long ago, someone saying what Ted Cruz is now saying would have been accused by Ted Cruz of engaging in class warfare.

— Columnist Danny Westneat: Guess who’s discovered income inequality

Recommended Link

Can worker cooperatives alleviate income inequality?

Al Jazeera America takes a look at businesses that are owned by their workers, and thus predisposed to treat their workers fairly.


Insecurity is now baked into every aspect of the employment relationship. Workers can be fired for any reason, or no reason. And benefits are disappearing. The portion of workers with any pension connected to their job has fallen from over half in 1979 to under 35 percent in today.

— Robert Reich: Why wages won’t rise

Recommended Link

Six New Year’s resolutions Businessweek readers could actually keep

Bloomberg’s Natalie Kitroeff offers six humorous possibilities for New Year’s resolutions that the readership of the conglomerate’s Businessweek magazine might actually be able to keep.


Paseo is reopening: Here’s hoping the new owner will treat the employees with dignity

The Seattle Times‘ Bethany Jean Clement and the Puget Sound Business Journal reported today that famous Seattle sandwich shop Paseo will be reopening in a matter of days under new management, led by Ryan Santwire.

The previous owner of Paseo, Lorenzo Lorenzo, abruptly closed Paseo’s two Seattle locations about a month and a half after being hit with a lawsuit alleging that he had refused his employees overtime pay and washroom/meal breaks. He then filed for bankruptcy. A federal judge recently approved the sale of his business for $91,000 in a bankruptcy auction to Santwire, who plans to reopen quickly.

Santwire, who appears to be a prduent and sensible man, assumed control over Paseo’s property, plant, and equipment, and immediately went to work rehiring old employees. He intends to reopen Paseo and serve the same food.

Lorenzo did not provide Santwire with copies of his recipes, but the Paseo staff who are being hired know them by heart, so recreating them was simple. Lists of ingredients cannot be copyrighted, so Santwire does not need Lorenzo’s cooperation or permission to make the same delicious sandwiches available for purchase again. No further changes are planned, he says, although we hope and expect that he will be a better employer than Lorenzo was.

We have no interest in patronizing establishments that mistreat their employees. Paseo is a Seattle institution, and given its large and loyal customer base, it should be able to take care of its employees. That means paying them on time, ensuring they get all the breaks they’re supposed to have, paying a living wage, and allowing them to take time off to attend to family or recover from an illness.