Today’s News & Commentary — June 20, 2018
Immigrant workers’ groups, led by the Domestic Workers Alliance, are organizing nationwide protests to end family separation at the border. Outrage escalated this week as Border Patrol separated thousands of children, including toddlers, from parents seeking asylum — with few plan to reunite them. As audio and photos emerge of children held in cages and tent camps, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (U.S.C.I.S.) has quietly formed a denaturalization task force that targets citizens born abroad. Amidst this, labor activist George Goehl writes for the Nation that the false narrative pitting immigrants against other low-wage workers undermines the job security, civil rights, and human dignity of all.
D.C. voters approved Initiative 77, a ballot measure requiring employers to pay tipped workers (like servers, manicurists, and bellhops) the same base minimum wage as other, non-tipped workers. Before the initiative passed, tipped workers’ minimum wage was a mere $3.33 an hour. Now, tipped workers’ base wage will rise to match the city’s $15 minimum wage (with an eight year phase-in period). Tipped workers will earn the minimum wage, plus any tips they earn. The vote is a major win for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has fought for one fair wage throughout the country — and a loss to the restaurant industry, which poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a deceptive front campaign designed to use progressive language to trick liberal voters into rejecting the proposition. Still, the fight might not be over: Congress or the D.C. City Council could intervene to reject the ballot initiative, which passed with over 55% of the vote.
Massachusetts legislators hinted that they may be close to a deal on legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour and to establish paid family and medical leave for all workers. Meanwhile, advocates are pushing for a ballot initiative on paid leave, authorizing up to 26 weeks of job-protected paid leave in which workers would received 90 percent of their average weekly wages.
A new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute shows that one in nine U.S. workers earn wages that would leave them in poverty — even if they worked full time.