The federal minimum wage, a minimal protection against exploitation that’s meant to keep working Americans out of extreme poverty, has not been increased since July 2009. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would now be $10.86 rather than $7.25. The minimum wage for tipped workers is only $2.13 and hasn’t been increased in 23 years.
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UE Political Action Updates
No Renewed Iraq War
STATEMENT OF THE UE GENERAL OFFICERS
June 27, 2014
The Ukraine Crisis and the New Cold War
A Freedom Budget for All Americans:
Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today
Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates
Monthly Review Press, 2013
303 pages, paperback, $16.95
Even before the snow melted, budget season returned to Washington. On March 4 President Obama offered a 2015 budget proposal, and Republicans who in recent years have used obstruction, threats and even shut down the government to try to get their way, presented their budget appropriately on April Fools' Day. But on March 12 the Congressional Progressive Caucus – an organization of members of Congress to the left of Obama – announced its budget proposal which it calls the Better Off Budget.
A UE delegation met on March 31 with Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and legislation “Fast Track” trade authority to the president. The UE group included Western Region President Carl Rosen, Local 151 President Cliff Hall, Local 1110 President Armando Robles, and International Representative Leah Fried. They met with Rep. Quigley and his District Director Mary Ann Levar.
UE members in Iowa brought union issues to the state legislature in their annual Political Action Day on February 11, with more than 30 members participating. Most were members of Local 893, and Local 896’s Political Action Chair Shawn Harmsen also participated.
Meeting at the UE’s national headquarters on January 23-24 UE’s General Executive Board (GEB) adopted a resolution opposed to legislation currently being considered in Washington that would allow “free trade” agreements to be rapidly shoved through Congress with almost no debate. This “fast track” legislation is being pushed by the Obama administration, the Republican leadership, and major corporations and big business organisations. If they succeed in passing fast track, it will likely lead to approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the most damaging “free trade” deal yet.
Eight UE people were among the 150 arrested in civil disobedience for immigrant workers’ rights on November 6. Organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the protestors rallied in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Downtown Chicago and blocked traffic on Clark Street for almost an hour.
They were demanding that Republicans in Congress stop blocking a vote on immigration reform and that President Obama halt deportations, which have totaled nearly 2 million during his administration.
The federal government shutdown and threat of default have passed, at least for now. But now the concern is what happens in budget negotiations between congressional Republicans, Democrats and the Obama White House.
For the bipartisan Washington elite and their sponsors on Wall Street, the goal of these negotiations must be a “Grand Bargain” that is centered on “entitlement reform.” Translated into plain English, that means they want the two parties to get together and agree to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the pensions of veterans and federal workers.