Honor the Sacrifice

From the AFL-CIO

The working men and women of the AFL‑CIO join the Union Veterans Council to wish all a safe Memorial Day weekend. This is a time to respect and remember those who gave their lives for the bedrock freedoms we cherish.

Let’s resolve to honor their sacrifice by redoubling our efforts to secure and make real those freedoms for every worker in America, so working people can win new economic rules built on broadly shared prosperity.

Union members have a historic bond with veterans. Many of our modern trade unions were founded by war veterans who returned home and then banded together for the collective power to win fair pay and good benefits. Over the generations, each wave of veterans has renewed that bond, and the same is true today.

The chances are good that each one of us know, work with or otherwise have a connection to at least one person who has lost a friend or family member to war.

So as we enjoy a cookout or spend time with family and friends, let’s pause in respect. Nothing can prepare a person for the terrible realities, the personal loss and the enduring pain of war.

Memorial Day is sacred, and its truest meaning can never adequately be put into words. Yet we can honor our veterans by fighting for full funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and supporting efforts to train and employ our veterans for good union jobs.

Twenty veterans die from suicide every day, which experts say is in part due to an economy where working people can’t get ahead.

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Posted In: 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