The New York Timeslooks at the neighboring towns of Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA. The neighboring cities lie just opposite eachother, separated by the state border. They're also separated by an economic border -- Idaho's minimum wage is $5.15. Washington's is $7.93.
When Washington embraced its higher minimum wage, some business owners cried bloody murder.
This week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa approved a new city law
requiring hotels near the LAX airport to pay the same living wage as
those companies receiving government contracts: $9.39 an hour if the
hotels provide health insurance or $10.64 an hour without benefits.
A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free
lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and
those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most
promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a
deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:
Congress Considers Gutting Minimum Wage for One Million Workers
(To download a printable PDF version of this LegAlert, click here.)
H.R. 5970, The Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006, recently passed the U.S. House.
For years, the delivery company FedEx has claimed that its ground
drivers are not employees but independent contractors-- meaning the
company didn't have to pay for workers compensation, unemployment
insurance or extend a range of other worker protections.
By a vote of 35 to 14, the Chicago city council yesterday approved a new ordinance
requiring large retailers in the city to phase in a living wage for
their employees of $10 per hour plus $3 per hour in benefits-- the
highest minimum wage established for any industry sector in the
country. If signed by the mayor, the law would raise pay for tens of
thousands of workers in retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us,
Lowe's and Home Depot. A broad coalition of organizations including
ACORN, labor unions and church groups worked together for its passage.
The Massachusetts House is likely to approve a hike in the minimum wage following passage of the bill in the Senate. The bill, which increases the minimum to $8.00, does not tie the minimum wage to inflation in order to address cost-of-living adjustments in the future.
Governor Mitt Romney pledged in 2002 to support efforts to tie the minimum wage to changes in cost-of-living.
Following Chicago's lead, DC Councilman Phill Mendelson has introduced a bill to require
large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco to pay employees a living
wage of $11 an hour plus health benefits worth at least $3 a hour. The
bill also would give labor groups and the public access to public areas
of a firm to communicate with employees about their rights. As we
detailed in last week's Dispatch, a major committee and a majority of Chicago City Council members have endorsed a similar bill for that city.
Seriously, laugh at the next conservative who mentions "states rights."
Quite obviously -- at least to US Senate conservatives -- the issue of how to deal with day laborers being hired on our streets is outside the competence of state and local governments.