Fast-Food Workers Seeking $15 Wage Are Planning Civil Disobedience

2 Sep

Demonstrators outside a McDonald’s restaurant in New York in May. Fast-food workers seeking higher wages plan new strikes and demonstrations this week.

From the New York Times

By Stephen Greenhouse

The next round of strikes by fast-food workers demanding higher wages is scheduled for Thursday, and this time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests.

The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.

But by having home-care workers join, workers and union leaders hope to expand their campaign into a broader movement.

“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee. At a convention that was held outside Chicago in July, 1,300 fast-food workers unanimously approved a resolution calling for civil disobedience as a way to step up pressure on the fast-food chains.

“They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions of dollars helping to underwrite the campaign. “They’re invoking civil rights history to make the case that these jobs ought to be paid $15 and the companies ought to recognize a union.”

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New Zealand’s income inequality problem

2 Sep


If you’re 35 or younger, the New Zealand you grew up is in many ways remarkably different to people older than you. One of the most profound differences is in the degree of income inequality.

Over the last three decades New Zealand there has been a step change in inequality — we’ve gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

Our income inequality increased very rapidly in the late 1980s and ’90s — faster in fact than in any other wealthy country. Since then the rest of the world has caught up with us. Over these decades a big gap between rich and poor has opened up.

Over that time we’ve seen:

  • The top incomes double
  • The bottom half of incomes barely changed
  • The current trend shows no sign that this ‘step change’ to inequality will be reversed

How did this happen?

  • Tax cuts gave big breaks to higher income earners
  • Welfare benefit cuts of up to 20% reduced incomes for New Zealand’s poorest
  • Changes to employment law weakened the bargaining power of low-paid workers so they found it harder to win pay increases
  • Rising unemployment means fewer people earning wages and more people reliant on much lower welfare benefits

Where the parties stand on inequality

2 Sep

Workers to get a better, fairer deal under Green Party

2 Sep

Green Party co-leader Russell Norman speaking to Unite Union delegates conference 2011

The Green Party today announced a workers’ package that is part of its plan to build a fairer society where all workers have enough to live on.

The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan to make life better for all New Zealand workers are:

1. Lifting low wages by moving the minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2017 and introducing a Living Wage for the core Government sector.

2. A new legislative minimum redundancy package of four weeks’ pay.

3. Bringing top pay back into line requiring companies to report on the gap between top and bottom pay.

4. Measures to boost bargaining power and make workplaces safer and more democratic.

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More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’

2 Sep

Guadalupe Salazar, a McDonald’s cashier who says her paychecks were missing overtime wages.

From the New York Times

MIRA LOMA, Calif. — Week after week, Guadalupe Rangel worked seven days straight, sometimes 11 hours a day, unloading dining room sets, trampolines, television stands and other imports from Asia that would soon be shipped to Walmart stores.

Even though he often clocked 70 hours a week at the Schneider warehouse here, he was never paid time-and-a-half overtime, he said. And now, having joined a lawsuit involving hundreds of warehouse workers, Mr. Rangel stands to receive more than $20,000 in back pay as part of a recent $21 million legal settlement with Schneider, a national trucking company.

“Sometimes I’d work 60, even 90 days in a row,” said Mr. Rangel, a soft-spoken immigrant from Mexico. “They never paid overtime.”

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UniteAotearoa sent you a video: “Have Your Say”

2 Sep
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Budget cuts planned by National

1 Sep

It doesn’t have to be like this (7/10)


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