March 20, 2014
LAST WEEK, President Obama ordered the Department of Labor to revise regulations determining which workers qualify for federal overtime protections, a move that was presented as a way to increase income for some lower-wage workers. It's not. In reality, it's a matter of basic fairness. The issue begins with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the national minimum wage for most workers and guaranteed overtime pay for more than 40 hours of work a week. But the law also allowed overtime exemptions to be set by the Labor Department, based on the nature of the worker's duties and the worker's salary, the presumption being that higher salaries denoted higher-status administrative workers who did not need the same protections as lower-wage production workers (an arguable point)
March 20, 2014 |
Advocates for increasing the paychecks of low-wage workers held twin rallies in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. In Harrisburg, politicians, religious, community, and labor leaders gathered at the Capitol Media Center to announce a push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 from the current $7.25. And in front of a North Philadelphia McDonald's, restaurant workers, activists, and labor officials met to urge the fast-food giant to pay its workers $15 an hour and to not interfere with their joining a union.
March 17, 2014
Fashionable science As an advocate for science education, I was excited to see that once again a woman of science - pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey - was among the honorees for this year's National Women's History Month. It is a reminder that women play a vital role in scientific achievement. But women still lag behind in the science, technology, engineering, and math professions. So this year's observance offers another chance for parents to open the door of scientific curiosity a bit wider for their daughters.
February 22, 2014 |
"Pete's Tax" has proved costly. Chickie's & Pete's, the Philadelphia sports bar and restaurant chain, has agreed to pay $8.52 million in back wages and damages to employees for illegally docking a portion of their tips and failing to properly pay minimum wage, overtime, and other required income. Of that amount, $6.8 million is to be paid to 1,159 past and present employees to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department. The remaining $1.68 million is to settle federal lawsuits by about 90 current and former employees.
January 30, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's call to raise the minimum wage brought cheers Tuesday from local Democrats in Congress, but a mixed reaction from Philadelphia-area Republicans in what was likely a preview of the debate that will play out in heated campaigns this fall. Obama used part of his State of the Union speech to urge Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour as part of a sweeping mission to level the economic playing field, though the idea seems unlikely to gain traction.
January 30, 2014 |
PRESIDENT OBAMA: action hero, or bad actor? More than five years after becoming America's 44th president, Obama declared in his State of the Union address last night that his sixth, 2014, would be a "year of action. " His proclamation was born partly from resolve to tackle the rising gap between America's rich and poor but mainly from his frustration over getting anything done in gridlocked Washington. The president told Americans in the just-over-an-hour televised address that his political weapon of choice would be the pen - that during the next 12 months he would sign executive orders as a way to address some of the country's many vexing problems.
January 23, 2014 |
A week before President Obama is to deliver his State of the Union address, Sen. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania is joining a growing chorus of Democratic legislators calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. In a wide-ranging conference call with reporters Tuesday that focused on income inequality, Casey reiterated his support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act, a bill introduced last year that he cosponsored. Supported by Obama and other Democrats, the bill would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25.
January 20, 2014 |
While workers trimmed peach trees at his Mullica Hill farm this month, Tom Holtzhauser was reluctantly mulling trims of another kind - to his workforce. His labor costs will soar after the November passage of the constitutional amendment raising the state's minimum wage $1 to $8.25 an hour and implementing annual cost-of-living adjustments that could increase it even more. The new cost, he said, puts him at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-state farmers who pay the federal minimum of $7.25 and no yearly adjustments.
January 7, 2014 |
Pennsylvania will keep its minimum wage the lowest among large Northeastern states, if the commonwealth's leading business lobby gets its way. Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, liked my use of the phrase "brute force" to describe the role of government in trying to use a higher minimum wage to spread a little prosperity. But that's about all the chamber chief liked in my Dec. 22 column noting some politicians here want to copy Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and other adjoining states that have started boosting base pay significantly above the federal $7.25 an hour.
January 2, 2014 |
Effective Wednesday, New Jersey's minimum wage will rise by $1 to $8.25 an hour, boosting the paychecks of more than 250,000 New Jerseyans and bumping up costs for businesses with low-wage workers. While the wage increase is immediate, the reaction by businesses may take longer to assess - especially in light of the automatic annual increases voters approved in November, guaranteeing minimum-wage workers future raises. Businesses will "over time decide how they're going to deal with it," said Thomas Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.