Next Labor Nominee Must Support Workers, Not Exploit Them

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

February 15, 2017

Washington, DC – The withdrawal of Andy Puzder’s nomination for Secretary of Labor comes at a pivotal time for U.S. workers.

Andy Puzder built his business on exploiting workers, bilking them out of fair wages and humane workplace conditions, and using the sexual objectification of women to sell hamburgers. His business model was built on policies that harm low-wage workers, who are predominantly women, disproportionately women of color. All that was acceptable to the rubber-stamp Republican Senate, but when they saw the videotape of his former spouse detailing his vicious threats and abuse they finally pulled the plug.

Now that Andy Puzder has withdrawn his nomination to be Secretary of Labor, Donald Trump must be made to see the choice he faces. He can pick another crony capitalist or Wall Street billionaire with whom he likes to golf at Mar-a-Lago, or he can pick someone who has an actual track record of supporting workers.

The next Labor nominee needs to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the well being of workers in three crucial ways: First, the nominee must promote a true living wage — at minimum, $15 per hour, although that may already be too low in some cities. Second, they must be committed to programs and policies aimed at eliminating the gender and gender-race wage gaps, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace. Third, they must support the right of all employees to join unions and bargain collectively for decent wages and working conditions.

Donald Trump should have been mortified to even nominate Andy Puzder to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. Trump isn’t likely to change, but he can wake up to the political reality his disastrous nomination of Puzder has created. NOW calls on Trump to pick a nominee who will support and strengthen workers—not exploit their labor or use them to line his own pockets.

Andy Puzder’s nomination was unsustainable, but a nominee with the same views in a more palatable package will be equally unacceptable. NOW leaders and activists around the country are newly energized, and we will carefully scrutinize Trump’s next Labor Secretary nominee. Donald Trump is having a bad week, but it will get worse if he nominates another crony capitalist to be Secretary of Labor.

For Press Inquiries Contact

M.E. Ficarra,, (951) 547-1241

View this statement online by clicking here.

Lucy Parsons: Anarchist And Intersectional Feminist Who Inspired May Day

By Laura Flanders,
May 1st, 2016

Workers shouldn’t strike and go out and starve, but strike and remain in, and take possession, said Lucy parsons. Lifelong partner of Albert parsons, one of the American Labor Leaders, most associated with the founding of the American May Day tradition.

lucy_parsonsLucy Parsons was of Mexican American, African American, and Native American Descent. She was born into slavery and she was an intersectional thinker and activist a century before the term was coined.

Her work after emancipation led her directly into conflict with the Ku Klux Clan and into a lifelong partnership with radical typographer and organizer Albert Parsons.

Lucy never ceased advocating for racial, gender, and labor justice, all at once, and she’s part of the movement that won us the 8-hour day.

Parsons’ husband, Albert, was one of the orators in Chicago, who attracted thousands to a rally near Haymarket Square in 1886, on behalf of worker rights. After police charged the crowd, and a stick of dynamite was thrown, he was one of those arrested and later hanged.

Lucy, it was, who led the campaign to exonerate the Haymarket martyrs, and then she carried on their work. Leading poor women into rich neighborhoods to confront the rich on their doorsteps. Challenging politicians at public meetings and marching on picket lines.

She was the only woman of color, and one of only two women delegates—the other being Mother Jones—among the 200 men at the founding convention of the IWW, the Militant Industrial Workers of the World. There, she was the only woman to give a speech. She called women the “slaves of slaves” and urged the IWW to fight for equality and charge underpaid women a lower rate for union fees.

She also called for the use of nonviolence and “occupation” of the means of production. You can see her principles in the sit-down strikes of the 1930s in Detroit, the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, and the Occupy movement of today.

She died in 42 in a house fire at the age of 89, but in the celebration of May Day, her work endures. Long may her intersectional spirit live.

Facebook Just Improved Wages and Benefits for Contracted Employees

by on • 1:39 PM

Facebook Incorporated Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced today that the social media powerhouse will be requiring improved benefits from its contractors, including higher pay, paid leave, and a $4,000 new child benefit.

rvlsoft /

Sandberg stated that contracted workers’ new benefits will include a $15 minimum wage, a minimum of 15 paid leave days for holidays, sick time, and vacation, and $4,000 in child care benefits for new parents who do not receive paid parental leave. As Sandberg acknowledged, these new requirements particularly benefit women workers.

“Women, because they comprise about two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationally, are particularly affected by wage adjustments,” explained Sandberg. “Research also shows that providing adequate benefits contributes to a happier and ultimately more productive workforce.

“Now Congress should follow the lead of Facebook and many cities and states and raise the federal minimum wage and pass paid sick days for U.S. workers,” commented Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal who praised Facebook’s action. “Today almost half of women workers to do have one day of paid sick leave. It’s inhumane,” said Smeal.

The new standards at Facebook will affect food-service workers, janitorial staff, security guards, and other contracted workers. Sandberg hopes to implement these benefits to a broader set of vendors within the year.

The company “expects to bear the cost of the new standards as vendors increase their rates,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “We think it’s the right thing to do with our community and the right thing to do with our business,” Sandberg said. “So we think it’s an expense worth bearing.”

Media Resources: Facebook Newsroom 5/12/15; Wall Street Journal 5/13/15;

Putting Our Hearts and Our Money Where They Count: Paid Sick Days in Context

By Elleanor Chin

In just about all of the United States, including specifically in Oregon, a pregnant woman working full time to support a family may not be entitled to even a single paid day of leave from work to give birth, much less to go to the doctor for prenatal care, manage any pregnancy complications, or recover from birth and bond with her newborn. The United States has the worst family leave andsick leave policies in the industrialized world. Likewise, working people in the United States must frequently choose between losing pay and coming to work sick. If they are too ill or injured to even make that choice, they will lose income and any children they have will be economically vulnerable to homelessness, hunger and other dangers that people without adequate income face in this country.

Is this the world we want for any of our children?

The Oregon legislature is considering a bill to provide paid sick leave to workers across the State. Currently Eugene and Portland both have paid sick leave ordinances, but those only protect workers whose employers operate in those two cities. The Obama Administration is supporting state paid sick and family leave efforts and the Secretary of Labor has a “Lead on Leave” campaign with resources and policy arguments in favor of paid leave. As part of the Lead on Leave campaign White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and senior Department of Labor officials are touring the country and meeting with legislatures, employers and community representatives to advocate for paid leave.

Latifa Lyles, Director of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, spoke at the City Club of Portland on Friday May 1, as part of the Lead on Leave Tour. Her address was part of the City Club’s State of Motherhood program. The program also included a panel with Lyles, Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon, and Dr. Aileen Duldolao a Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist with Multnomah County and a primary author of the 2014 Multnomah County Health Department Maternal, Child and Family Health Data Book. A complete recording of the program, moderated by Sunny Petit of the Center for Women’s Leadership is available on the City Club’s YouTube channel:

The program put paid leave in the context of the overall health and economic wellbeing of women and children, particularly working women of color and their children. Health outcomes correlate across the human life span. An infant whose mother experiences a healthy pregnancy and has access to health care during and after pregnancy is more likely to receive appropriate health care. Child health indicators translate into lifelong health outcomes (both favorable and unfavorable) and predict life span. Populations where infants and mothers receive adequate health care experience lower infant mortality.

The racial and gender wage gap exacerbates the problem. Women as a whole earn $0.78 for every dollar men earn and for women of color the statistics are far worse, with Latina women making barely half a dollar for every dollar men earn. Women of color comprise a large percentage of single parent households. In Oregon and nationally majority of children living in households headed by women of color are living in poverty. When enormous number of children are living in poverty, even where their parent(s) work full time, something is fundamentally flawed. We are collectively letting down the families who are doing their part by working and paying taxes when we fail to give them a fair shot at raising their children to be healthy, contributing members of society.

Providing for every worker to receive paid time to care for themselves and their family when they are ill is one step on the right direction. Low wage workers are frequently women of color and single parents. Low wage workers (particularly in food service and retail) frequently have few benefits, including paid time off when they or their children are sick. As a result the most vulnerable workers have the least amount of flexibility when trying to care for their children, and children who are most at risk for illness are stuck in a recurring cycle of poverty, poor health care and inadequate resources to improve their chances of living a better life. Sick time is not only an investment in vulnerable members of society (potentially reducing long term social costs), but also makes near-term business sense. Improving employee health reduces transmission of disease in the work place, and increases productivity while decreasing employee turnover.

Paid sick time legislation has passed in several cities and states around the country and is gaining momentum. Oregon has the opportunity to make paid sick time a state wide standard. By leading on paid sick leave we will be taking a step to support not just parents and children, but healthier people in all stages of life.

5 Life-Changing Laws We Can Thank Women For

5 Life-Changing Laws We Can Thank Women For

American women still have a long way to go to achieve equal representation in our nation’s top leadership positions.
By Sarah Ayres,
Published: Sunday 16 March 2014, Think Progress/News Report
American women still have a long way to go to achieve equal representation in our nation’s top leadership positions. But, despite never having held more than 20 percent of seats in Congress, women have still managed to make an indelible mark on our nation’s legislative history, serving as the driving force behind some of America’s greatest progressive achievements.

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are five landmark laws you may not know were enacted with women playing a unique leadership role:

1. Women’s clubs and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 Upton Sinclair’s 1906 expose on the Chicago meatpacking industry may have served as the catalyst for the food safety reform movement, but it was the women’s clubs of the time who did the legwork in building grassroots support for food safety legislation. Members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs “spearheaded a letter and telegram writing campaign” to which historians attribute the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Dr. Harvey Wiley, the first chief of the Pure Food Bureau, said of the club’s instrumental role in enacting the law, “Trust them to put the ball over the goal line every time.” The law, which prohibits interstate commerce in misbranded and adulterated food and drugs, paved the way for the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Today the FDA continues to protect the health of all Americans by ensuring that our food, drugs, and cosmetics are safe and properly labeled.

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2. Frances Perkins and The Social Security Act of 1935 As both the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the U.S. and the nation’s longest-serving Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins was instrumental in developing many of the New Deal laws enacted during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, including the one establishing a minimum wage. But Perkins is best remembered as the chief architect of the Social Security Act of 1935, which Roosevelt called“the cornerstone of his administration.” Social Security now insures 90 percent of all Americans against loss of income, keeps millions of Americans out of poverty, and provides all Americans with the peace of mind that they will not become destitute if their family loses its primary source of income due to retirement, disability, or death. It is the most successful and effective income security program in our nation’s history.

3. Mother Jones and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 Once known as “the most dangerous woman in America” for her fearless organizing tactics, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones began a campaign that ultimately resulted in the enactment of America’s child labor laws. The self-proclaimed “hell-raiser” and United Mine Workers organizer once led hundreds of striking children on a march from the textile mills of Pennsylvania to the doorstep of President Theodore Roosevelt in Long Island, New York. Her dramatic performance spurred the movement to abolish child labor. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, banned oppressive child labor.

4. Rachel Carson and the Environmental Protection Agency (1970)With the publication of her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson catalyzed the modern environmental movement. By bringing the effects of chemical pesticides to the attention of the American public, Carson is largely credited with inspiring the grassroots movement that led to a ban on DDT and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Since its creation, the EPA has worked to protect Americans’ health and the environment.

5. Dolores Huerta and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez and led a consumer boycott that resulted in the passage of the landmark California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. The first of its kind in the country, the law grants California farm workers the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Known for her courage and determination, Huerta was described by Chavez as“completely fearless” – even in the face of sometimes violent opposition. Over the course of her career, Huerta was arrested more than 20 times and was once severely beaten by police at a nonviolent protest in San Francisco. In 2012, President Obama awarded Huerta the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s top civilian honor.

LA Times – ‘Men are stuck’ in gender roles, data suggest

LA Times – 'Men are stuck' in gender roles, data suggest.

Brent Kroeger pores over nasty online comments about stay-at-home dads, wondering if his friends think those things about him. The Rowland Heights father remembers high school classmates laughing when he said he wanted to be a “house husband.” He avoids mentioning it on Facebook.

“I don’t want other men to look at me like less of a man,” Kroeger said.

His fears are tied to a bigger phenomenon: The gender revolution has been lopsided. Even as American society has seen sweeping transformations — expanding roles for women, surging tolerance for homosexuality — popular ideas about masculinity seem to have stagnated.

While women have broken into fields once dominated by men, such as business, medicine and law, men have been slower to pursue nursing, teach preschool, or take jobs as administrative assistants. Census data and surveys show that men remain rare in stereotypically feminine positions.

When it comes to gender progress, said Ronald F. Levant, editor of the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity, “men are stuck.”

The imbalance appears at work and at home: Working mothers have become ordinary, but stay-at-home fathers exist in only 1% of married couples with kids under age 15, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In a recent survey, 51% of Americans told the Pew Research Center that children were better off if their mother was at home. Only 8% said the same about fathers. Even seeking time off can be troublesome for men: One University of South Florida study found that college students rated hypothetical employees wanting flexible schedules as less masculine.

Other research points to an enduring stigma for boys whose behavior is seen as feminine. “If girls call themselves tomboys, it’s with a sense of pride,” said University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor Barbara Risman. “But boys make fun of other boys if they step just a little outside the rigid masculine stereotype.”

Two years ago, for instance, a Global Toy Experts survey found that more than half of mothers wouldn’t give a doll to someone else’s son, while only 32% said the same about giving cars or trucks to a girl. Several studies have found that bending gender stereotypes in childhood is tied to worse anxiety for men than women in adulthood.

In the southern end of Orange County, former friends have stopped talking to Lori Duron and her husband. Slurs and threats arrive by email. Their son calls himself a boy, but has gravitated toward Barbies, Disney princesses and pink since he was a toddler. In a blog and a book she wrote, Duron chronicles worries that would seem trivial if her child were a girl: Whether he would be teased for his rainbowy backpack. Whether a Santa would look askance at him for wanting a doll.

“If a little girl is running around on the baseball team with her mitt, people think, ‘That’s a strong girl,'” said her husband, Matt Duron, who, like his wife, uses a pen name to shield the boy’s identity. “When my 6-year-old is running around in a dress, people think there’s something wrong with him.”

Beyond childhood, the gender imbalance remains stark when students choose college majors: Between 1971 and 2011, a growing share of degrees in biology, business and other historically male majors went to women, an analysis by University of Maryland, College Park sociologist Philip N. Cohen shows. Yet fields like education and the arts remained heavily female, as few men moved the opposite way. Federal data show that last year less than 2% of preschool and kindergarten teachers were men.

In the last 40 years, “women have said, ‘Wait a minute, we are competent and assertive and ambitious,'” claiming a wider range of roles, said Michael Kimmel, executive director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University. But “men have not said, ‘We’re kind, gentle, compassionate and nurturing.'”

As the Durons and other families have discovered, messages of gender norms trickle down early. In Oregon, Griffin Bates was stunned when the little boy she was raising with her lesbian partner at the time came back from a visit with Grandma and Grandpa without his beloved tutu and tiara.

“They were perfectly OK with his mother being gay,” Bates said. “But they weren’t OK with their grandson playing dress-up in a tutu.”

Boys stick with typically masculine toys and games much more consistently than girls adhere to feminine ones, Harvard School of Public Health research associate Andrea L. Roberts found. Biologically male children who defy those norms are referred to doctors much earlier than biologically female ones who disdain “girl things,” said Johanna Olson of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Even the criteria for diagnosing gender dysphoria were historically much broader for effeminate boys than for masculine girls.

Why? “Masculinity is valued more than femininity,” University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky said. “So there’s less worry about girls than about boys.”

Gender stereotypes do seem to have loosened: The Global Toy Experts survey found that most mothers would let their own sons play with dolls and dress-up sets, even if they shied from buying them for other boys. Parents in some parts of Los Angeles said their boys got barely any flak for choosing pink sneakers or toting dolls to school. And in a recent online survey by advertising agency DDB Worldwide, nearly three quarters of Americans surveyed said stay-at-home dads were just as good at parenting as stay-at-home moms.

But while attitudes may have shifted, Rosky said, “nothing changes until men are willing to act.”

Some experts say economic barriers have stopped men from moving further into feminized fields. Jobs held by women tend to pay less, an imbalance rooted in the historical assumption that women were not breadwinners. Women had an economic reason to take many of the jobs monopolized by men, particularly college-educated women trying to climb the economic ladder.

“But if men made the switch, they’d lose money,” New York University sociologist Paula England said.

Yet it isn’t just economics that keeps men from typically female jobs. Men are still rare in nursing, for instance, despite respectable pay. England and other scholars see that dearth as another form of sexism, in which things historically associated with women are devalued.

Men who do enter heavily female fields are often prodded into other ones without even searching, as other people suggest new gigs that better fit the masculine stereotype, said Julie A. Kmec, associate professor of sociology at Washington State University.

While women have “come out” to their families as people who want a life outside the home, men have not “come out” at work as involved fathers, Kimmel said. And that, in turn, holds many working mothers back, Risman argued.

Familiar measures of progress toward gender equality, such as women working in management or men picking up housework, began to plateau in the 1990s. Cohen found that in the first decade of the millennium jobs stayed similarly segregated by gender — the first time since 1960 that gender integration in the workplace had slowed to a virtual halt.

“If men don’t feel free to go into women’s jobs,” said Risman, a scholar at the Council on Contemporary Families, “women are not really free.”

Wal-Mart, Not a Place to Give Thanks | Nel’s New Day
In less than four days Wal-Mart opens its doors at 6:00 am on Thanksgiving day and stays open for 41 hours, trying to entice all the Black Friday shoppers into its stores. Almost 200,000 people have signed petitions protesting the new hours. If the company were not unfair to its 2.1 million workers, two-thirds of them in the United States, people might not be as upset. But the corporation has a reputation for paying its employees under the poverty level, an average of $8.81 per hour, and opposes any union structure.

Workers in 28 stores across 12 states went on strike, and a probe by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is siding with the company’s labor force. Wal-Mart may have to rehire its fired workers because the company “unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012” and at other times. NLRB can also force Wal-Mart to tell workers of their rights to unionize.

Things are so bad at Wal-Mart that CEO Mike Duke quit this morning before tomorrow’s shareholders meeting.

Some Wal-Mart facts:

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the federal government.
The majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line, and the children qualify for school free lunches.
One-third of the employees are part-time, limited to less than 28 hours per week and thus ineligible for benefits such as health care.
Employees make 25 percent less after two years at the job than their unionized counterparts working for other companies.
Employees take home on average under $250 per week.
Last year, only 18 percent of hourly workers received any pay raise at all.
When the United Food and Commercial Workers tried to organize workers across the country, labor experts were brought in for “coaching sessions” (aka intimidation sessions) with personnel who support unionization. Employees complained that these were intimidation sessions.
Full-time employees are eligible for benefits, but the employees are required to pay 35 percent of the health insurance package.
Not one in 50 workers has amassed as much as $50,000 through the stock-ownership pension plan although Wal-Mart matches 15 percent of the first $1,800 in stocks purchased. (Voting power for these stocks remains with Wal-Mart management.)
Over 85 percent of its goods are made outside the U.S. and often in sweatshops.
Musicians are frequently forced to create “sanitized” versions of their albums specifically for Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has forced many U.S. manufacturers out of business.
The company has been the primary distributor of many goods attracting controversy, including Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line, Disney’s Haitian-made pajamas, child-produced clothing from Bangladesh, and sweatshop-produced toys and sports gear from Asia.
In the U.S., Wal-Mart makes over $13,000 in pre-tax profits per employee (after paying them), which comes to more than 50 percent of the earnings of a 40-hour-per-week wage earner. At the same time, Wal-Mart costs taxpayers $5,815 per employee for food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, etc. That’s over $1.7 million per year for just one store. Wal-Mart has over 4,000 stores in the U.S.

The six Walton heirs together own as much wealth as 40 percent of the U.S. population. Last year, four members of the Wal-Mart family made a combined $20 billion from their investments. Less than half that would have increased the salary for each Wal-Mart worker by $3 an hour, enough to end the taxpayer contributions for these employees.

When Wal-Mart stores arrive, small businesses close, and employees in other stores have their wages lowered. An example is the experience of supermarket employees in Los Angeles: just the possibility of a Wal-Mart opening there dropped the pay scale markedly for new hires. After public opposition kept Wal-Mart stores from coming into most of L.A., the pay scale went back up.

Thirty years ago, Wal-Mart displayed “Buy America” and “Made in America” signs, but the marketing program was fraudulent. Even then, the corporation was shifting its purchasing to Asia. At the beginning of this year, the company declared that it would put $50 billion into buying domestic goods over the next decade. That’s really 1.5 percent of its expenditure on inventory.

Most of this $50 billion will go into its expansion in groceries. With Wal-Mart taking over the grocery business—25 percent of it at the beginning of the year—other grocers lose business and buy less. The result is no new jobs but lower wages for workers. In the past decade, Wal-Mart’s gross from groceries has increased from 24 percent in 2003 to its current 55 percent, and the company plans to take over more of the grocery share with its Neighborhood Market stores and new supercenters.

Georgia towel maker, 1888 Mills, will provide Wal-Mart with “American-made towels” but will maintain its overseas workforce of 14,000. The U.S. factory will add only 35 jobs at $12-$14 per hour.

Wal-Mart has often been compared to its competitor Costco which  offers its employees an average wage of $21.96 an hour, about 40 percent more than Wal-Mart employees make. Wal-Mart’s profits sank the second quarter of the year while Costco saw a 19-percent increase. There’s another company, however, that should be a model for Wal-Mart as it goes into the grocery business.

WinCo, a small privately-held chain of 100 supermarkets in western United States, manages to undercut Wal-Mart prices. And how?

It cuts out distributors and other middle “men” by buying many goods directly from farms and factories.
It doesn’t accept credit cards.
Customers bag their own groceries.
Stores are organized and minimalist without frills and a tremendous variety of merchandise.
Employees have decent health care benefits for those who work at least 24 hours a week.
Some of WinCo’s 400 nonexecutive workers, including cashiers and produce clerks, have pensions worth over $1 million because WinCo puts an amount equal to 20% of employees’ annual salary into a pension plan.
And WinCo is going to Texas, competing with Wal-Mart and offering lower prices.

During the recession, Wal-Mart cut employees hours so deeply that stores could not keep their shelves stocked causing customers to go elsewhere. In the past five years, the U.S. workforce dropped by 120,000 while the company opened 500 new stores. With longer check-outlines, backlogged inventory, and poor customer service, Wal-Mart will move 35,000 part-time workers to full-time and another 35,000 temps, who have to re-apply for their jobs every 180 days, to part-time.

The Affordable Care Act will require new full-time employees to get health insurance after 90 days instead of the usual six months. Workers still have to be employed an average of 30 hours a week for a year to get the benefits; most “associates” at Wal-Mart don’t have the opportunity to work this many hours. 

Food for thought as you schedule your shopping this week.

The 10 Companies Paying Americans The Least: 24/7 Wall Street

The 10 Companies Paying Americans The Least: 24/7 Wall Street.

This summer, thousands of fast-food workers in the United States went on strike in cities across the country, demanding their wages be increased to $15 an hour and the ability to unionize. To no one’s surprise, they didn’t get it. As of 2012, an estimated 4.7% of hourly workers are paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. According to several groups, low- and minimum-wage workers are growing faster than any other group of earners.

Meanwhile, profits at many of the corporations that employ the most minimum-wage workers have risen. McDonald’s, Walmart and Target together employ several million Americans. While these companies’ profits have grown in recent years, most of their workers continue to earn low or minimum wages. 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies that employ the most low- and minimum wage workers.

Companies that pay employees poorly fall into one of three industries: retailers such as Walmart and Sears, restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, and grocery stores such as Kroger. These industries are customer-facing and rely on a fleet low- and minimum-wage workers to take orders, stock clothing and goods and wait tables. “The service sector across the board — the retail and restaurant industries — those are the core of the low-wage labor market,” explained Jack Temple, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

To reinforce the argument that the low wages these companies are paying are unfair, Temple points to the large compensations most of the chief executive officers at these companies receive. CEOs at nine of these 10 companies are paid more than $10 million annually, while Michael Duke and Howard Schultz, CEOs of Walmart and Starbucks, each receive more than $20 million per year.

Perhaps a fairer measure that may indicate whether a company can afford to increase its employees’ wages is the profitability of these companies. Net income in all but one of these companies has increased over the past five fiscal years. Kroger’s net income more than tripled since fiscal year 2008 to nearly $1.4 billion. Sears’ net income, on the other hand, has declined significantly during that time. The company recorded a net loss of $930 million this year.

Temple explained: “Low-wage companies have choices. They can continue making a lot of profits, and can continue paying their CEOs an incredible amount of money by paying low wages to their employees. But they have the resources to operate profitably and pay high wages as well.”

Based on the methodology used by the National Employment Law Project in its 2012 report “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies in industries that are primarily low-wage employers. Based on annual reports and proxy filings, we also reviewed the total size of the companies’ workforces, the recent performance of the corporations in terms of revenue and profit, and the highest executive pay at these companies. Included in our analysis were total U.S. employee figures, which we estimated when the figures were not provided by the company. In keeping with the NELP methodology, all employee figures represent systemwide employment, including employees of franchisees. To avoid double-counting low-wage workers, Starbucks is an exception, as many other low-wage employers are Starbucks licensees.

These are the companies paying Americans the least:

10. Starbucks
> U.S. workforce: 120,000
> CEO compensation: $28.9 million
> Revenue: $13.3 billion
> Net income: $1.4 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 5,415/7,049/13,493

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) employs 120,000 workers across the United States. Howard Schultz, the company’s CEO, has become a billionaire by turning Starbucks from a small coffee retailer into one of the world’s most famous brands. Last year, Schultz took home nearly $29 million in total compensation. Schultz is often viewed as a progressive executive, due to his support of gay marriage and his request that customers not bring guns into Starbucks locations. In an interview with CNBC in March, Schultz cautiously supported a minimum wage hike. However, according to, baristas at Starbucks are paid an average of less than $9 an hour. Schultz has downplayed the relevance of these figures.

9. TJX Companies
> U.S. workforce: 138,211 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $21.8 million
> Revenue: $25.9 billion
> Net income: $1.9 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,355

The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) operates Marshalls, TJ Maxx and HomeGoods in the United States. The company’s stores are off-price retailers, meaning they buy unsold inventory from manufacturers and other retailers and resell it at a discount. TJX’s sales have grown in the past four consecutive fiscal years as the retailer also boosted its operating profit margin. Despite the company’s success, sales associates at its stores earn less than $8 an hour on average, according to

8. Macy’s
> U.S. workforce: 175,700
> CEO compensation: $13.8 million
> Revenue: $27.7 billion
> Net income: $1.3 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 844

Annual revenue at Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) has risen slightly over the past four years, up from roughly $25 billion in 2008 to more than $27.7 billion at the end of its latest fiscal year. Macy’s, the second-largest department store in the United States, exceeded Wall Street’s expectations this past quarter, posting large increases in sales and earnings from the year before. Earlier this year, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union ratified a five-year agreement with Macy’s that should help protect the benefits of nearly 700 Macy’s employees in Maryland and Washington, D.C. According to, associates are paid under $9 an hour on average.

7. Darden Restaurants
> U.S. workforce: 203,389 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $6.4 million
> Revenue: $8.6 billion
> Net income: $412 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,105

Revenues at Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the parent company of chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, rose from just $7.2 billion in 2009 to $8.6 billion in fiscal 2013. According to Morningstar’s analysis, operating margins have been some of the best in the industry in the past few years. Additionally, instead of raising wages, the company’s funds have been used effectively “to fund growth concepts and enhance total shareholder returns.” Yet the results have not been enough for investors, some of whom have pushed for the company to split and continue to cut costs faster. In 2013, Fortune named Darden one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” citing access to low-cost health insurance for part-time employees. Still, pay for many workers at Olive Garden and Red Lobster is frequently less than $10.00 per hour, according to However, many of these employees may receive tips in addition to their base pay.

6. Sears Holdings
> U.S. workforce: 246,000
> CEO compensation: $1.3 million (Louis D’Ambrosio, former CEO)
> Revenue: $39.9 billion
> Net income: -$930 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,073

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), owner of both Sears and Kmart, is in heavy competition with other department stores. The median hourly wage for department store workers was just $9.83 in 2012. At Sears, sales associates averaged slightly more than $8 an hour, while cashiers averaged $7.70 per hour. Kmart offered similar pay to its workers as well, with 105 cashiers and 75 sales associates reporting to that their hourly wages were less than $8.00. However, Sears Holdings may not have the necessary ability to increase its employees’ pay. Sales have slipped in the past few years, plunging from $47.8 billion in fiscal 2008 to less than $40 billion in the most recent year. The company has also failed to post an operating profit in either of the past two full fiscal years.

5. Yum! Brands
> U.S. workforce: 694,712 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $14.2 million
> Revenue: $13.6 billion
> Net income: $1.6 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 18,069

Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) CEO David Novak received more than $14 million worth of total compensation in the past fiscal year. The company’s revenue rose from $11.3 billion to $13.6 billion. Hourly wages for workers at its KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, however, are still often less than $8 an hour. Yum! Brands has continued to expand, opening more than five new restaurants a day outside the United States in 2012. However many American workers have expressed frustration that the company’s success has not led to an increase in their pay. This summer, fast-food workers at Yum! Brands and other fast-food chains staged protests across the country, demanding higher wages.

4. Kroger
> U.S. workforce: 343,000
> CEO compensation: $11.1 million
> Revenue: $96.8 billion
> Net income: $1.5 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,418

The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) employs 343,000 workers in 2,418 stores across the country. The company operates stores under several names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons and others. A majority of Kroger’s employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements between the company and different unions. In the past few months, Kroger has agreed to terms with unions covering thousands of workers in Virginia and Texas. Kroger’s net profit was $1.5 billion at the end of the most recent fiscal year.

3. Target
> U.S. workforce: 361,000
> CEO compensation: $20.6 million
> Revenue: $73.3 billion
> Net income: $3.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 1,778

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) had 361,000 employees working at 1,778 stores in the United States at the end of 2012. The average listed salary on for a cashier or an employee on the Target sales floor is less than $9 an hour. In response to Target opening on Thursday, in advance of Black Friday, Target workers drafted a petition last year to “save Thanksgiving.” More than 300,000 people signed the petition. This year, Target stores will open on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. That is an hour earlier than last year.

2. McDonald’s
> U.S. workforce: 739,055 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $13.8 million
> Revenue: $27.6 billion
> Net income: $5.5 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 14,157

In the restaurant industry, the hourly median wage was just over $9.00 as of 2012. However, many McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) employees are paid far less, with cashiers and crew members often earning only the minimum wage. In October, several McDonald’s employees were arrested for protesting their wages at the Union League Club of Chicago, where McDonald’s President Jeff Stratton was giving a speech. Between 2008 and 2012, sales and profit margins at McDonald’s have increased. Despite the company’s growth, employees are still hurting. All but admitting the low wages, McDonald’s encourages employees to enroll in food stamps and welfare programs.

1. Walmart
> U.S. workforce: 1.4 million
> CEO compensation: $20.7 million
> Revenue: $469 billion
> Net income: $17.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 4,759

There are 1.4 million Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) associates working at the company’s 4,759 U.S. stores. Walmart recently announced it would launch Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Critics of Walmart see this as adding insult to injury — forcing retail workers who already earn low wages to cut holidays short. Criticisms like these have been part of an onslaught of claims that Walmart underpays its workers. Walmart disagrees, saying that “for tens of thousands of people every year, a job at Walmart opens the door to a better life.” According to the company, a full-time hourly wage is $12.83. Some argue that the company’s number is inflated, however, reflecting the salaries of higher-paid employees. Hourly wages for sales associates are less than $9.00, according to Walmart’s net income rose to $17 billion last year.

By Michael B. Sauter, Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander E.M. Hess

Read more: Ten Companies Paying Americans the Least – Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) – 24/7 Wall St.
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The State of Women of Color in the United States | Center for American Progress

The State of Women of Color in the United States | Center for American Progress.

Throughout the 20th century, women fought for and achieved countless victories for women’s rights and became a political and economic force in our society after winning the right to vote, equal pay, and reproductive rights. While women have continued to organize for collective gains into the 21st century, the benefits of those achievements have not been equally shared. Over time, those gaps have expanded into wide and deep inequalities for some women—namely, women of color.
Despite making meaningful gains in education and entrepreneurship, women of color face unique challenges, especially in regards to their economic security. This is profoundly troubling given our nation’s changing demographics and the fact that women of color will make up 53 percent of the population by 2050. Hispanic women will lead this growth, increasing from a share of 16.7 percent of the female population in 2015 to 25.7 percent in 2050. Asian women’s share of the female population will similarly grow by 80 percent, from 5.3 percent in 2015 to 7.8 percent in 2050. African American women’s share of the female population will grow from 12.8 percent to 13.3 percent during the same time period. The share of women who identify with two or more races will also grow, increasing from 2.1 percent in 2015 to 4.1 percent in 2050. White women, however, will drop from 61.8 percent of the female population in 2015 to 47 percent in 2050. (see Figure 1)’

Women of color will comprise the majority of all women in the future, and it is in our best interest to close racial gaps so we can begin to create a society and workforce that will sustain U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.
The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is an example of what can be done to address the challenges that women of color face. This law has the potential to improve the disproportionately poor health of women of color through better access to affordable health insurance and health services. Improved health can increase the livelihood of women of color as poor health can impact one’s ability to work or attain an education and thus affects an individual’s and a family’s economic security. Healthier people contribute to a robust workforce, which, in turn, strengthens the economy.
Women of color are vital to the economic future of the United States as they become a greater share of the workforce. They will need to be much better prepared than they are today, with more educational and training opportunities that will ensure that the United States can fill the high-impact jobs that it seeks to create. Today, women of color lag behind both white women and their male counterparts in a number of indicators that gauge their economic security. These inequalities not only put individuals and families at risk, but they also put the health of our economy at risk by creating an unprepared workforce and reducing the people’s purchasing power.
Moreover, while many conversations in the mainstream media suggest that women of color are a monolithic entity, it is important to note that women of color are a diverse group with a variety of experiences. We acknowledge the limitations of this report and understand that the data in this report do not address differences that may exist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, women of color and other groups of women of color who experience additional challenges.
This report examines the current state of women of color in the United States across various indicators of prosperity, given trends over the past two decades. The report also focuses on recent changes from the start of the Great Recession in 2007 through the recovery, which began in June 2009, to the present day. Where available, we offer specific data points on various racial and ethnic groups as we present the issues of greatest importance to women of color in the following key areas:
Economic security
Educational attainment
Political leadership
This report also seeks to describe the landscape for women of color, including the economic and health insecurities they face, as well as the progress that has been made in areas such as education and entrepreneurship. In the final section of the report, we present policy opportunities that exist to improve the lives of women of color and, in turn, strengthen the U.S. economy so that everyone can benefit from the country’s prosperity.
Farah Ahmad is a Policy Analyst for Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress. Sarah Iverson is a former intern with Progress 2050.
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