Check the Big Banks

From the AFL-CIO

Over the past several weeks, Republican leadership in Congress and the Trump administration have weakened our financial security by loosening rules that protect our economy from Wall Street bankers, opening the door for banks to discriminate and making it easier for Wall Street bankers to gamble with the savings of hardworking families.

America’s working families know that holding big banks accountable is essential to winning new economic rules that put Main Street first.

The right financial regulatory system will put Wall Street to work for working people, not the other way around.

The AFL-CIO is building a powerful and independent political movement to win commonsense financial rules that will keep big banks in check.

Break up big banks. Too few banks control too much of America’s financial system, which is risky because if they fail, they will bring down all of us.

Uphold the power of worker capital. Instead of making it harder for union members’ pension plans to have a say on corporate behavior, we should empower them to hold corporations accountable.

End racial discrimination. We want to make sure lenders don’t prey on people of color, the elderly or the poor by imposing unjustifiable fees, higher rates and other extra costs.

Democrats and Republicans alike are on notice. It’s time for new economic rules, so working families and our communities can thrive.

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Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder