We Need More Senators Who Support Workers Like Senator Jon Tester

By Matt Murray
NH Labor News

This week, Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana, submitted new legislation in support of workers who have been locked out by their employer.

In August, French-owned Imerys’ locked out workers at their plant in Three Forks. Workers are members of the Boilermakers union (IBB) and have been fighting back against the lockout for three months now.  This is the first lockout in Montana in over 35 years.

According to the AFL-CIO, “the lockout comes after Imerys consistently has refused to back down from its anti-worker contract proposal. The proposed contract would eliminate retiree health insurance, seniority, overtime over eight hours, double-time pay for overtime and the current defined contribution 401(k) plan, and would freeze the defined pension plan.”

Last month, Tester rallied with workers locked and vowed to take legislative action in the U.S. Senate.

Tester’s bill, the Prohibiting Incentives for Corporations that Kickout Employees Tax (PICKET) Act, will eliminate tax breaks, deductions, and credits for corporations that lock out their workers during a labor dispute.

“When corporations sell their workers downstream, they shouldn’t be able to turn around and cash in on the backs of taxpayers,” Tester said. “Imerys is a multinational, billion-dollar foreign corporation that has shown no interest in our Montana values and this bill will hold them accountable for unnecessarily upending the lives of workers and their families.”

Tester’s bill will specifically require corporations who lock out workers during a labor dispute to pay the old corporate tax rate of 35 percent, rather than the new rate of 21 percent for the entire taxable year.

Tester’s bill also will prevent these corporations from deducting wages and benefits paid to any temporary workers during the lockout and prevent the corporation from receiving certain tax credits for hiring replacement workers.

The PICKET Act applies to all U.S. corporations and U.S.-based subsidiaries of foreign corporations like Imerys. Tester’s bill is available HERE.

We need all of our US Senators to join Senator Tester in holding these greedy corporations accountable.  We need to stop rewarding them for locking workers out.

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Reposted from NH Labor News

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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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