An article in Forbes yesterday pointed out that employers paying their employees the minimum wage are sending them a loud statement that “It’s not legally possible for me to value your work any less than I already do.” The article argues that’s a poor business practice, ensuring low morale and high turn-over. But it also raises a broader issue: what kind of message is Congress sending those employees?
A woman working full time, year round at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour earns just $14,500—more than $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Congress has allowed these employees’ wages to decrease every year since the current level went into effect in 2009 by neglecting to tie the minimum wage to inflation, and it has yet to heed the President’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Fortunately, states and cities across the country aren’t waiting for Congress to act. Read more »
For millions of workers, raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour could boost annual full-time earnings by $5,700. That’s enough to pull a family of three out of poverty—but for additional help visualizing what $5,700 looks like, here are 8 things you could splurge on with an extra $5,700 a year. Read more »
But the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the only bill that could help close the gap between women’s and men’s earnings — which hasn’t budged in a decade, as women working full time, year round are still typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. One reason for this persistent wage gap is that women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs: for starters, they make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers. Another bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would boost pay for these workers by gradually raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages to keep up with inflation. Read more »
Did you know that in most states, when you tip your waitress, you’re actually paying her wages?
That’s because the federal minimum wage law allows employers of tipped workers to pay them as little as $2.13 per hour (the “tipped minimum cash wage”), and count your tips to fulfill their obligation to pay their workers the minimum wage. While employers are legally required to make up the difference between $2.13 and the regular minimum wage if tips fall short, studies show [PDF] that all too often employers don’t do this. This is particularly a problem for women, who are two-thirds of tipped workers. Read more »
On Tuesday, several of us at the National Women’s Law Center had the privilege of meeting with a group of 11 female political leaders from Latin America, hailing from Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.
Staff from the Law Center spoke about our efforts to advance public policies that work for women and families, and women from the delegation asked poignant questions about how we advance that mission, and the successes and challenges we face in those efforts.
Part of what was so striking about the conversation was noticing what facts about the state of public policy for women in the U.S. most shocked our visitors. Explaining the recent Hobby Lobby decision caused jaws to drop when the group realized they had heard the English to Spanish translation correctly: the Court actually ruled in favor of an employer’s right to impose its religious beliefs on the health care decisions of its employees. More shocked faces accompanied learning that the U.S. federal minimum wage still sits at a puny $7.25 per hour—and it doesn’t even apply to all workers. And again, disbelieving inquiries followed hearing that an employer has no obligation to guarantee its workers a minimum number of hours, but can instead send workers home without pay if business is slow—even if an employee has traveled long distances or arranged child care to be at work. Read more »
In case you missed it, Kentucky State University interim president Raymond Burse announced this week that he’ll take a pay cut of $90,000 to subsidize raises for those workers on the university campus who make very low wages. The college president’s move will ensure that the university’s hourly workers make at least $10.25 per hour. Approximately 24 workers on the campus will see a raise, including some workers who had been making the current federal minimum wage of just $7.25. By absorbing the pay cut himself, Burse saved the institution from making a difficult decision like deducting funds from other university program areas, while guaranteeing that the hardworking employees of Kentucky State University receive a raise they deserve – and very much need. Read more »