Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED/TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.
Election's over, the good guy won, so what now for working people? Labor's wish list for our re-elected president and the new Congress is long, but certainly the most basic item is raising the pay of our poorest workers by raising the minimum wage.
About four million workers have been living in poverty or near-poverty at the current minimum of $7.25 an hour – $15,000 a year at most before taxes and other deductions. And that's assuming the workers manage to find full time, year-round jobs.
There's been no lack of congressional bills to raise the minimum since it was last raised in 2007, the latest introduced this year by two Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California. Their bill would increase the rate to $9.80 an hour by 2014, index the rate to rise automatically with any rise in the cost of living after that, and set the rate for tipped workers at 70 percent of the minimum. Read more »