A look at Minnesota is a good place to begin examining what has been happening— the people demanding a real living wage; politicians talking about a living wage to get elected, then once elected legislating one more poverty wage under the guise of “raising the Minimum Wage.”
Minnesota’s present state Minimum Wage is $6.15 an hour; it hasn’t been increased for years.
Notice how these Democrats make the claim that so many people will be helped by their pathetic miserly Minimum Wage increases but they don’t mention how many more people raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage would be helped.
Just like a little group of these Minnesota Democrats grandstanded with a high-profile publicity stunt by saying they would try to live on the poverty Minimum Wage of $7.25 an hour for one week.
Well, everyone already knows it isn’t possible to live on $7.25 an hour unless you work three forty-hour jobs five days a week.
This begs the question: Why didn’t these Minnesota Democrats try living on the $9.50 an hour Minimum Wage they were intending to legislate?
I asked them this question; none answered. Was this a valid question to ask them?
Democrats working in league with their partners— these foundation funded outfits (like Take Action Minnesota, Working America, Campaign for America’s Future) the millionaire “leaders” of organized labor, and the DFL Business Caucus (the Summit Hill Club) better known as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce— did the same thing with the Minimum Wage that they did with single-payer universal health care; these Democrats and their partners killed the grassroots and rank-and-file movements demanding what was just and possible— real progressive reform; real living wages.
Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton met in secrecy with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and promised that the first increase in the Minimum Wage would not be higher than $8.00 and that the final “increase” would be no more than the present pitiful miserly $6.16 state Minimum when compared to the purchasing power of the dollar— $9.50.
Anyone can project that in 2016 when the $9.50 kicks in, in terms of the goods and services that you will be able to purchase, $9.50 in 2016 will buy you what $6.15 gets you in 2014.
Get out your calculator and figure out how much more you will be getting with a 2.5% increase in your $9.50 in 2018. You will be getting, almost, a whopping twenty-five cents an hour more.
We are being played for fools.
All the while, Dayton was out and about telling Minnesotans no worker should have to live in poverty.
Is there anyone who dares to come forward to explain how $9.50 is anything other than a poverty wage at a time when working class families are experiencing a “cost-of-living crisis?”
This is what Democrats here in Minnesota promised. We need an explanation from these Democrats who have a super-majority why they didn’t deliver on what their own Platform promised. What we have is the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party using the levers of government (legislation) to enforce poverty, thus providing employers with a huge pool of cheap labor from which these employers reap two huge rewards:
1. Cheap labor means higher profits.
2. A huge pool of cheap labor pushes all wages down meaning all employers will reap super-profits from this huge pool of cheap labor.
Workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor. Just like workers without jobs are going to be poor. Democrats talk about creating “good jobs paying good wages,” yet at every opportunity they force poverty wages on workers employed in existing jobs.
Grassroots citizen activists through their participation in precinct caucuses over the years are responsible for the DFL’s Platform calling for, in fact, I wrote this:
Labor and Employment
We promote the American labor movement and the rights of all workers.
• A minimum wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides full time workers with an income above the poverty level.
This is what DFL Representative John Ward, leader in the House, sent to his constituents:
Raising the Minimum Wage
Today, the House passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016. The minimum wage will also be increased to inflation starting in 2018 to ensure the value of the minimum wage does not fall over time. The bill, which passed the Senate yesterday, now goes to the Governor to be signed into law.
The bill is expected to have significant positive impact on Minnesota families. Over 357,000 workers will see a raise when the increase is fully implemented. Of those workers, 45 percent have some college education and 57 percent, or 200,000 are women. Of the workers expected to receive a raise, 62,850 are parents. And 14,200 of those are the sole wage earner in their household.
This is a smart, responsible way to raise the minimum wage. The bill includes a training wage for younger workers and a lower minimum wage for our small businesses to address their concerns. In Minnesota, we value hard work and should reward that. Raising the minimum wage will help boost our economy.
Details of the bill include:
· $9.50 minimum wage for businesses with gross sales over $500,000 in 2016. $8.00 in August 2014, $8.50 in August 2015.
· $7.75 minimum wage for businesses under $500,000 in gross sales in 2016. $6.50 in August 2014, $7.25 in August 2015.
· The $7.75 minimum wage rate would also apply for large businesses in the following circumstances: 90 day training wage for 18 and 19 year olds, all 16 and 17 year olds and employees working under a J1 visa.
· Beginning in 2018, all wages would increase each year on January 1st by inflation measured by the implicit price deflator capped at 2.5%.
· The indexed increase could be suspended for one year by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry if leading economic indicators indicate the possibility of a substantial downturn in the economy.
I understood the concern of restaurant owners and their interest in a tip credit. I lobbied the chief author to look at and try to come up with a solution to this issue. I will continue to work on a solution to this issue. Again, Workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor.
What we need is a Minimum Wage that is a real living wage.
All current state and local struggles taking place around the country prove that what we really need to build is a huge national movement if we are going to win this struggle to make the Minimum Wage a real living wage.
The Minimum Wage is going to have to be legislatively tied to all cost-of-living factors, then indexed to inflation with periodic increases to improve the standard-of-living for working people in line with what is called for in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Link to Declaration: http://unudhr.blogspot.com/)
•(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
•(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
•(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
•(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
•Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
•(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
•(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
We are also going to have to initiate a national struggle to rescind and repeal this draconian and hideous “At-Will Employment” legislation which needs to be replaced with “Just Employment” legislation.
I would also point out that the Leech Lake Indian Nation’s tribal council— the Leech Lake Business Organization (LLBO)— just raised the Minimum Wage for all employees, including casino workers, to $10.25 an hour… still a poverty wage but the highest legislated Minimum Wage in the United States at this time.
In fact, the Democratic Party has engaged in the hideous practice of “bait-and-switch;” illegal in the retail sector but used extensively by the politicians of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
We need a working class based progressive peoples’ party that will challenge Wall Street for political and economic power; this party will have to be for peace with an anti-monopoly/anti-imperialist agenda which will put people and Mother Earth before profits.
In my opinion, the present struggles to reform the Minimum Wage are failing because we have failed to make the case that the Minimum Wage needs to be tied to all cost-of-living factors.
Any advocacy of a dollar amount needs to be established as a legitimate “living wage” in comparison to all “cost-of-living” factors. The only credible research on cost-of-living factors comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Consumer Price Index (CPI) which monitors the prices of goods and services in eight categories, each with 200 sub-categories.
We need not fiddle around picking numbers from a hat when the empirical data is there to be used to establish exactly what the Minimum Wage should be— and these Minimum Wages of $8.00, $8.50, $10.10 are far from being what any reasonably intelligent person capable of thinking logically could possibly explain away as real living wages; in fact, these are poverty wages— definitely NOT what Democrats promised and these Democrats should be held accountable for their betrayal of the working class; not just on one issue, but two vitally important issues:
1. The Minimum Wage.
2. Single-payer universal health care.
Enough! You don’t reward these Democrats for their betrayal by voting for them because they tell us the Republicans are so much worse. We need working class candidates running against these Democrats. Punish your enemies; reward your friends. An injury to one, is an injury to all.
Poverty wages are not acceptable for any working people. Any job that an employer needs to have done needs to be at a real living wage— if employers don’t agree, let them do the work themselves.
Solidarity and Struggle is what is called for— if we want to win.
I would strongly suggest that what working people need is to establish non-sectarian Marxist Study Clubs to familiarize themselves with the politics and economics of livelihood as we build a national movement for making the Minimum Wage a real living wage. We simply can’t win using the thinking and ideology of the bosses.
I would recommend that every worker should read:
“Wage, Labour and Capital” by Karl Marx:
“Value, Price and Profit” by Karl Marx: