The Minimum Wage Battle Heats Up In NY

Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

June 18, 2015– The Minimum wage battle heated up this week in New York as Fast Food workers filled an auditorium on New York University’s campus to testify before a panel appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to examine the wage issue.  This hearing comes on the heals of last week’s historic increase in Los Angeles to $15 per hour for their minimum wage. ( See http://newyorkovertimelaw.com/blog/los-angeles-becomes-largest-city-to-enact-15-wage-law/)

At the hearing more than 30 Fast Food and other workers testified about their inability to survive, live, and afford housing on the wages they earn under the current economic scheme.   They, boldly, are seeking an increase from $8.75 per hour to $15 per hour in order to offset the economic disparity between their wages and their cost of living.

NYC’s Mayor, Bill De Blasio, and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been vocal advocates of this historic increase for the 180,000 Fast Food workers residing and working in New York State.  Despite the opposition of major employers over the alleged adverse economic impact of these significant wage changes it is expected that increases will be announced shortly.  The Los Angeles increase seems to have been the momentum shift these East Coast workers were looking for.

To read the entire NY Times Article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/nyregion/board-hears-support-for-raising-food-workers-minimum-wage.html?_r=1

Los Angeles Becomes Largest City to Enact $15 Wage Law

“Los Angeles - Feb 9, 2014: View Of Hollywood Boulevard In Sunset” by David Castillo Dominici
“Los Angeles – Feb 9, 2014: View Of Hollywood Boulevard In Sunset” by David Castillo Dominici

June 11, 2015-While the nation debates the issue and large companies promise some movement on their minimum wage floor, the City of Los Angeles has acted, and acted swiftly.   Wednesday night, by an overwhelming majority, the City Council voted to increase the City minimum wage to $15 per hour.  While the measure still needs to be signed into law by Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, he has already indicated that he will do so without hesitation.

This increase makes the minimum wage in Los Angeles double the Federal Standard and on parity with only a few jurisdictions.   The size and visibility of the city make the increase historic.  Mayor Garcetti and Mayor De Blasio of New York City have have both been vocal advocates of this change, yet, New York City’s leader has not managed to garner enough support to accomplish this goal.   It remains to be seen if this change on the West Coast will prompt a similar response in the East.

While labor advocates have applauded the action, many large employers have renounced it as crippling to their profitability during a time when the economy is still fragile.  Overtures are already being made to engage in massive lay-offs or corporate relocations.  The impact on these employers may not be as significant as these companies would have the public believe as the increase phases in over the course of several years, with provisions to extend the commencement time for smaller employers.

While the impact of the increase is being debated labor advocates and businesses will be keenly focused on signs of the impact on the Los Angeles economy and how it relates to the rest of the national employment picture.

To read the entire story:

http://americasmarkets.usatoday.com/2015/06/10/10-an-hour-minimum-wage-passed-in-la/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatodaycommoney-topstories

A Tale of Two Companies- Amazon Hires 6k Workers While Cisco Lays Off Same

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May 29, 2015-Two high profile U.S. based Corporations made very distinct and contrasting employment statements today.  Amazon announced the hiring of 6,000 workers in the United States while Cisco Systems announced they were laying off the very same number, 6000.

Amazon’s hiring will increase it’s fulfillment center workforce by approximately 10% in the United States.  Hiring in this segment of Amazon’s business will be to meet the growing demand for order fulfillment at its 50 Distribution Centers around the country.

Meanwhile Cisco Systems, the computer networking company,  will reduce it’s workforce the same figure, or approximately 8% of its workforce, to address financial restructuring of the company in difficult economic times.

The contrast between the two companies is a microcosm of the rollercoaster that has been the United States economy for the past several years; up and down.   For New York State workers the news has a particularly bad impact as none of the Amazon jobs will be in New York yet Cisco Systems is a New York based company.

To find out more:

http://www.industryweek.com/workforce/cisco-cut-6000-jobs

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-amazon-hires-6k-full-time-workers.html

Mixed News For Employees As 2nd Fiscal Quarter Begins

Photo by David Castillo Dominici.  Image ID: 100157605
Photo by David Castillo Dominici.
Image ID: 100157605

April 9, 2015-U.S. workers, as they attempt to understand what is happening in the American job market, are being confused by mixed economic signals which, simultaneously, forecast an economic expansion and economic slow down.  For many workers these mixed economic signals have made financial planning for their family’s future a nightmare.

Last week’s economic indicators foretold of some instability in the employment sector.   For the first time this year unemployment claims increased over the prior month’s filings, indicating, potentially, that an increased number of Americans were out of work.  Similarly, the hiring numbers for new employees also indicated a contraction over the, more robust, prior six months. These two factors, in isolation, could be the signs of a real economic slowdown and trouble for working families that have not yet recovered from the depths of the Great Recession. However, it may be too early to judge the state of the economy based on these factors because the relative increases, and contractions, were not significant enough to demand panic, yet.  There could be a number of fluctuating components, from the weather, to increased eligibility for unemployment filing, that may have contributed to these alarming figures.   The real test of whether this is a trend, or an anomaly, will be the results of April’s figures in these areas.

Meanwhile, there appears to be some hopeful signs for American workers as some of the country’s largest employers have begun to raise their minimum wage, voluntarily, above the Federal and state standards.   Employers such as Walmart, McDonalds, and AETNA have all begun implementing these increases, with other companies, likely, to follow suit.  While the raises they have instituted are not close to the wages some labor groups and government officials have been calling for, they are a positive economic trend for employees.

For employees looking to improve their standard of living by seeking higher wages, within, or outside of their current positions it may be a difficult time to forecast what the remainder of 2015 will bring.  For many, perhaps, fear of a second wave of economic downturn will inhibit their willingness to leave the security of their current position for a new, higher paying job.   It may also impede their confidence in seeking an increase in wages in their current employment, if they are employed. The net result may be a kind of economic stagnation and paralysis that is the result of the insecurity caused by years of economic fear and struggle for American workers.

 

 

 

 

First Analysis of Minimum Wage Increases Show Economic Promise

February 19, 2015–  Much of the debate surrounding an increase in the Minimum Wage is whether, or not, it will positively impact the U.S. economy. The initial analysis of the impact of the increases in over 20 states, which was written about in this column last month*, appears to indicate it has had a positive impact on the overall economic picture, albeit small.

Economists reported an, overall, increase in Labor force wages by .045%, in January, partially due to the substantial commitment of a number of states to these hourly wage increases. Morgan Stanley reported that 1.5% of the workforce was impacted by the increases in 21 states.  While this percentage is, actually, substantial it did not have a greater positive result on the economy because the increases in wages, themselves, were not substantial enough to have an impact when spread out over the entire wage pool.

Further commentary by leading economists seems to indicate that the economy was also helped by a continued increase in the number of laborers in the workforce. The Department of Labor reported the biggest three (3) month increase in 17 years, possibly, ending a trend towards months of alternating progress and set backs. There were no indications, whatsoever, that in the markets where wages were increased that the increases in hourly wage lead to layoffs, contractions, decreased profitability, or corporate re-locations as compared to jurisdictions with lower hourly wages.

There does seem to be a building forward momentum in the economy and the job sector. This increase in opportunities will continue to thin the unemployment ranks and should have a natural inclination to raise wages in the marketplace as competition heats up. The lurking danger is that as new higher paying Managerial opportunities are created they will have the tendency to demonstrate net increases in the wage pool figures and these increases may be used by opponents of mandated minimum wage increases as justification that such legislation is not needed.

What is needed as the economy continues to evolve and emerge from the Great Recession is an isolated, detailed analysis of workers and wages at the minimum wage level. By applying this analysis the most needy sectors of the workforce will not suffer from having their stagnation masked by members of the workforce on the more affluent segment of the labor force.

Yet to see an increase in your pay rate after the minimum wage increase? If you are making less than the state minimum wage in New York, contact the wage attorneys at Neil H. Greenberg and Associates for a consultation at 866-546-4752.

*To view the article written in this column last month, click here.

Career Builder’s Top Interview Body Language Mistakes

January 15, 2015–  At the commencement of each new year, Harris Poll, on behalf of CareerBuilder, conducts a nationwide survey of employers to uncover employment trends and interview patterns that may be used to guide prospective job seekers in their quest for new employment.  A look at 2014’s results revealed some interesting feedback on the body language of candidates seeking employment.  In ranking non-verbal cues identified by Human Resource managers, in finding the most professional candidates, CareerBuilder ranked the Top 10 Body language mistakes candidates made in interviews over the course of the past year:

  1. Failing to make eye contact
  2. Failing to smile
  3. Playing with something on the table
  4. Having bad posture
  5. Fidgeting too much in their seat
  6. Crossing their arms over their chest
  7. Playing with their hair or touching their face
  8. Having a weak handshake
  9. Using too many hand gestures
  10. Having a handshake that is too strong

The Human Resource managers surveyed also provided an interesting and humorous look at some of the outlandish behavior of candidates seeking employment.   These included:

  • Candidate answered cell phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a “private” conversation.
  • Candidate told the interviewer he wouldn’t be able to stay with the job long because he thought he might get an inheritance if his uncle died – and his uncle “wasn’t looking too good.”
  • Candidate asked the interviewer for a ride home after the interview.
  • Candidate smelled his armpits on the way to the interview room.
  • Candidate said she could not provide a writing sample because all of her writing had been for the CIA and it was “classified.”
  • Candidate told the interviewer he was fired for beating up his last boss.
  • When applicant was offered food before the interview he declined, saying that he didn’t want to line his stomach with grease before going out drinking.
  • A candidate for an accounting position said she was a “people person,” not a “numbers person.”
  • Candidate flushed the toilet while talking to the interviewer during a phone interview.
  • Candidate took out a hair brush and brushed her hair mid-interview.

By reviewing the actual feedback and comments of current employers job seekers can better understand the expectations of employers in the marketplace and better prepare themselves for interviews in a very competitive job market.

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2015/01/15/6704558/employers-tell-all-the-most-unusual.html#storylink=cpy

Minimum Wage Freeze Cost American Workers $8.64 Trillion Since 2009

December 4, 2014–  Now that the mid-term elections have come and gone without any action being taken to raise the Federal minimum wage, it is unclear when, or if, any National legislation will be forthcoming. Throughout the current election season populist candidates were touting, seemingly revolutionary increases to the Federal minimum wage, with numbers, as high as, $15 per hour being debated.  Surprisingly, many of these pro-labor candidates were defeated in their election, or re-election, bids for office leaving the probability of immediate action abandoned. The complexion of the incoming Congress has already indicated its early opposition to major changes in this area.

So how does this inaction on the Federal Minimum wage issue impact the American workforce. According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research: “Congressional failure to raise the minimum wage is costing America’s working families and the economy overall. With millions of workers losing billions in pay since 2009 — and hundreds of billions of dollars since the high water mark for the minimum wage in 1968 — it’s no wonder families are falling farther behind and income inequality has exploded even as corporate profits and CEO compensation soar.”

The figure calculated by the CEPR, as of last Monday, is a staggering $6.84 trillion dollar in cumulative losses in wages to the American worker since 2009, as a result of the failure to increase the minimum wage.   Advocates for the increase argue that no legislative gridlock has damaged American workers more, and, possibly, the Amercan Economy.

While opponents of dramatic wage increases sound the alarms of corporate closures, outsourcing, and, general, economic calamity as a result of doubling the minimum wage they have failed to make, even, the slightest movement towards having this figure even, remotely, keep up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, as all indications are that certain segments of the economy are poised for a fiscal rebound from the depths of the Great Recession, the unemployed and underemployed are finding that having a job and working the maximum number of hours they are physically able to withstand is doing little to improve their chances at capturing even a glimpse of the American Dream that their parents told them so much about.

While relative inflation has been low during the period of time from 2009 to the present, one need only compare the isolated statistic of Food Inflation to the Federal minimum wage during this period to see the true impact on the American household. While wages have remained flat, according the US Department of Labor Statistics, Food Inflation has increased at a rate of 4.25% per year from 2009-2014. Combine this with dramatic, recent cuts in the Federal Food Assistance programs and it paints a picture of an underemployed, overworked, and hungry American Family.

If Ghandi was right, and “The True Measure of Any Society can found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” what does the U.S’s national lack of concern over the essential financial solvency of its most vulnerable workers say about it as a society?

 

If you, or someone you know has suffered from minimum wage issues, it is important that they immediately contact an experienced Minimum Wage Attorney.  A qualified attorney can help employees stand up for their rights and recover compensation for their lost wages. 

Does Low Unemployment Signal the End of the Recession?

August 7, 2014– Does Low Unemployment signal the end of the Recession?  July’s Unemployment Report, released by the Department of Labor earlier today, indicates growth in many major hiring sectors of the economy.   For the sixth straight month hiring increased and the unemployment rate decreased.   Is this trend an indication that the painful financial times are over and that a robust economy is right around the corner?   Perhaps; however, there are certain disturbing trends in the employment data which may make a celebration premature.

One of those negative trends is that the number of part time workers who are employed, yet would desire more work hours, held steady at, a staggering, 7.5 million Americans.  This number is an indicator that employers are still very gun shy about hiring full time workers, or converting part time employees to full time status, where they may earn, much needed benefits and overtime pay.  In recent years this segment has given rise to the popularity of the term, “underemployed“. Continue reading “Does Low Unemployment Signal the End of the Recession?”