Working conditions for a substantial part of the U.S workforce have declined markedly in recent decades. Wages have stagnated for most workers and have fallen for the most vulnerable populations in our society. State leaders can work to reverse this decline and rebuild the American Dream through a number of key programs.
Fair Trade Deals should raise labor standards globally and encourage a cycle of higher wages
and greater consumer demand, driving job creation across the world. States should have a clear role in oversight and development of new trade laws.
In a case with national implications for state health reform across the country, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week in Golden Gate Rest. Ass'n v. San Francisco upheld the employer responsibility provisions of the San Francisco universal health care plan. The decision follows a preliminary decision earlier in the year that allowed the plan to be initially implemented.
In honor of Labor Day, we thought we would highlight some of our past
Dispatches which outline steps states can take to protect workers'
rights and raise wage standards. With new Census data
showing that the median
income for working-age households is still $1,300 below 2001 when the last
recession hit bottom, the need for states to act to improve working conditions
is greater than ever.
The good news is that over thirty states and the federal government raised the minimum wage in recent years. The bad news is that many employers, even most employers in some industries, ignore existing wage and workplace regulations, so the real challenge now is to stop the systematic violation of these laws.
This week, Maryland became the first state to enact a "living wage" law, HB 430, requiring government contractors to pay their employees a decent wage, in the bill ranging from $8.50 an hour in rural areas to $11.30 an hour in areas of the state with higher costs of living. Maryland follows the 120 local governments around the country that have required that public money go to companies that pay their workers above the poverty line.