Tag Archives: economy

Go, Haymarket Cafe of Northampton, go! Kudos to Peter and David Simpson!

Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds Peter and David Simpson for Raising Wages for their Workers and Strengthening the Local Economy!
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the House floor yesterday, Congressman Jim McGovern applauded the recent decision of Haymarket Café, a Northampton restaurant, to move to a $15 per hour minimum wage for its workers.

Congressman McGovern praised the decision as the right thing to do for workers, the smart thing to do for its business, and a positive step for the Northampton economy and community.
Full Text of Jim’s Floor Speech Below:
“Today, I’m honored to share the story of the Haymarket Café, started by brothers Peter and David Simpson, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“One of the surest signs of a vibrant local economy is a lively restaurant scene. You know a town or region is humming economically when you have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. It’s a sign that people have enough money left over after paying the bills to spend on treating themselves and their families. It’s a strong indication that people feel secure in the direction of the economy.
“But for millions of low-wage workers across the country, the story is more complicated than that, and the picture is not at all pretty. For all the economic vibrancy associated with restaurant culture — and though restaurants employ almost 1 in 10 private sector workers — restaurant workers are among the worst-paid, worst-treated within the economy as a whole.
“While non-restaurant private sector workers make a median hourly wage of $18, restaurant workers earn a median hourly wage of $10, including tips. The results are predictable: more than 16 percent of restaurant workers live below the poverty line.
“And this picture is made even worse by how it is skewed along race and gender lines. The highest paid positions in restaurants tend to be held by men and people who are white, while the lowest paid positions are typically held by women and people of color. And at the bottom of the ladder are undocumented workers, who comprise over 15 percent of the restaurant workforce — more than twice the rate for non-restaurant sectors.
“The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are forward-thinking restaurant owners who are choosing the high road. Restaurants where conscious efforts are made to break down gender and ethnic divisions and that choose to pay a living wage with good benefits. And if you ask them, the owners of these establishments will tell you that they choose this path because it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do financially. They choose this path because it’s a solid business model that improves the chances of success in a highly competitive industry.
“I am proud to represent one of those restaurants in my district. The Haymarket Café, in Northampton, Massachusetts, has led the way for almost a quarter century in treating its employees with respect and paying them a living wage.
“I attended an event a couple of weeks ago at the Haymarket Café where the owner, Peter Simpson, announced that his restaurant was moving to a $15 per hour minimum wage and would be eliminating tips.
“Now, I’ve known Peter for a long time, and I wasn’t surprised that he would take such a step.. Peter opened the Haymarket with his brother, David, almost 25 years ago, and from the beginning they were committed to paying a fair wage and creating a positive work environment for their employees.
“But in talking to Peter, I realized that his decision — while it reflected his idealism — was rooted in hard-nosed business sense. You don’t survive and thrive for a quarter century in the highly-competitive restaurant industry, especially in a small, tight-knit community like Northampton, if your business model isn’t air tight. Every decision you make has to make sense financially in order to succeed and stay competitive.
“So the decision to go to a $15 per hour minimum wage and eliminate tips was not something Peter took lightly. He did his homework. He looked at other restaurants in other cities that’d made a similar move. He talked to all his employees. He worked closely with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, which is leading the charge to better the lives of low-wage immigrant workers in Western Massachusetts.
“Eliminating tips allowed Peter to make the wages between better-paid waiters and less well-paid kitchen staff more equitable. It allowed his wait staff to earn a wage they could count on, rather than having to depend on the tipping whims of customers. It also gave him increased staffing flexibility—he could train all his staff to do all jobs so he could more easily shift people around when necessary. In committing to a $15 per hour minimum wage, Peter also increased staff loyalty, while decreasing turnover and training costs.
“As a result of Peter’s bold decision, the Haymarket Café has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support. Staff and customers are equally enthusiastic, and business has jumped. This commitment to wage equity has shown once again to be a sound business strategy and that a business based on such principles can provide a decent living for its staff and contribute to the economic health of the community.
“The Haymarket Café is living proof, especially in an industry with such a dismal track record on wages, that paying a living wage is good for business. That a commitment to wage equity makes financial sense. The restaurant industry can and must do better. And I’m proud to say the Haymarket Café is leading the way.”

News from EPOCA

This morning, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) and Representative Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) will file an omnibus bill backed by a large coalition of community, religious, and union organizations, to improve Massachusetts’ systems of criminal justice, end mass incarceration, and re-invest in our schools and in job-creation.

Included in the bill are:

I. Criminal Justice Reforms:

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences – This would restore judicial discretion in sentencing for drug charges, reducing the risk of longer than warranted prison terms.

Reduce Certain Low-Level Felonies to Misdemeanors – Under this scenario, certain offenses (such as shoplifting or other petty theft, or low-level drug charges) would be made misdemeanors, with different sanctions relying less on long terms of incarceration.

End Collateral Sanctions at the RMV – Under current law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles confiscates the license of a person convicted of any drug offense for up to 5 years, and charges at least $500 to reinstate.

Extraordinary Medical Placement – This would allow a judge to decide whether a person who is permanently incapacitated or terminally ill should be transferred out of prison for treatment, remaining under state custody.

II. Jobs and Schools:

The final sections of the bill establish a trust fund with the savings from these improvements in the criminal justice system, which will be used to right our unbalanced economy, investing in evidence-based practices including job development efforts for youth, veterans, victims of violence and other people with significant barriers to employment, as well as programs to support youth to stay in school.

Job Training to address the skills gap identified by Massachusetts industry leaders;

Transitional jobs and pre-apprenticeship programs to prepare people and place them in good, living-wage jobs;

Youth jobs that provide both sustenance and experience
Initiatives to create new jobs through social enterprises, coops, and other businesses.

Evidence-based programs that support young people to stay in school and get a complete education.

NOTE: Legislators are also filing many of the above sections as separate, individual bills: Mandatory Minimums: Rep. Swan and Sen. Creem;  Extraordinary Medical Placement: Rep. Toomey and Sen. Jehlen;  RMV Collateral Sanctions: Rep. Malia and Sen. Chandler.

Hope gov-elect Charlie Baker reads this editorial …

… because this is how it feels for most of us Worcesterites! Read this editorial from The New York Times because the right-wing Telegram and Gazette editorial board won’t print the truth for ya and former Democratic hero and Mass Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, now making $200,000 a year at the Chamber of Commerce, urged everyone to VOTE WRONG ON THE BALLOT QUESTIONS, shitting all over working people (and the environment). Murray, this past election, was anti-living wage, anti-expanded bottle bill, anti-earned sick time … what a whore.  

–  Rosalie Tirella

Job Growth, but No Raises


The employment report for October, released on Friday, reflects a steady-as-she-goes economy. And that is a problem, because for most Americans, more of the same is not good enough. Since the recovery began in mid-2009, inflation-adjusted figures show that the economy has grown by 12 percent; corporate profits, by 46 percent; and the broad stock market, by 92 percent. Median household income has contracted by 3 percent.

Against that backdrop, the economic challenge is to reshape the economy in ways that allow a fair share of economic growth to flow into worker pay. The October report offers scant evidence that this challenge is being met. Worse,the legislative agenda of the new Republican congressional majority, including corporate tax cuts and more deficit reduction, would reinforce rather than reverse the lopsided status quo. …

To read entire editorial, CLICK HERE 

From the US Census Bureau …

We are excited to invite you to attend the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama from October 31 – November 1, in Washington D.C. Please begin your pre-registration process by clicking here. After pre-registering, you will receive a follow-up email to pay and fully-register within three business days.

For the first time ever, we’ll have all the major players in one room to enable you to get the answers and contacts you need in the most efficient way.

Learn about incentives, market conditions and concrete investment opportunities from more than 44 states and U.S. territories. Ask a wide variety of U.S. government agencies questions about resources and regulations.  Pre-schedule meetings through our online matchmaking service.  Hear from the CEOs of leading international businesses, as well as national, state and local government leaders.  Get deals done.

  • Secretary John Kerry, Department of State
  • Secretary Jack Lew, Department of Treasury
  • Secretary Penny Pritzker, Department of Commerce
  • Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative
  • David Constable, CEO, Sasol
  • Dan Doctoroff, President and CEO, Bloomberg, L.P.
  • Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock
  • Melanie Hart, President and CEO, Tsuchiya North America
  • Andrew Liveris, President and CEO, Dow Chemical Company
  • Douglas Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar
  • William (Bill) Simon, President and CEO, Walmart, U.S.
  • Eric Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens Corporation
  • Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America
About SelectUSA:   President Obama launched SelectUSA in 2011 as the first-ever U.S. government-wide initiative to promote and facilitate investment in the United States as an engine for job growth and economic development. Housed in the Department of Commerce, SelectUSA provides a number of services, including: providing information and assisting global investors to understand and navigate the U.S. government.

Please visit selectusasummit.com to view the video …




An honest day’s work

By Edith Morgan

We celebrated Labor Day earlier this month, and some workers enjoyed a well-earned day of rest. Many did not, as they perform vital duties, often at low wages, to keep our society moving. My newspaper and mail have been crowded with ads for special sales, back-to-school sales, preparation for fall and winter; and already the Halloween stuff is out, though it is nearly two months away… Students are back in school, colleges are in full swing, and the mad rush toward the end of another year has begun.
When will we take time to stop and think? When do we examine our assumptions, decide whether our country is headed in the right direction, doing good rather than doing well, being good stewards of this small planet?

I always assumed that we are not here just to consume as much as we can, accumulate as much wealth as possible, and contribute a little to various causes, deducting the gift from our taxes so that the taxpayers foot the bill.

But times have slowly changed, and now too many of us think that we work just to make money to survive: and it is a constant race to see how little we can be paid, how much harder we can be made to work, and how much of our labor’s rewards can be funneled to those who do no work at all, but merely move money around.

The most important work – parenting, education, cleaning up, building roads, maintaining bridges, parks, rivers, water supplies, caring for those who can’t care for themselves, and many more, without which we could not survive, are still paid starvation wages, and have to fight constantly to keep their heads above water.I did not hear much about these everyday heroes who keep our society running, on this Labor Day.

But there is hope: I see a stirring in the ranks, a slow realization that doing the real work should be rewarded, supported. Only by being organized (“there is strength in numbers”) can decent treatment be assured. For too long we have stood by and watched working people take the blame for the greed and dishonesty of those above them.

For every “welfare queen” who may have helped to make her family’s life better, there are dozens of unpunished corporations, taking tax breaks and wasting billions of this country’s assets. Let us focus on the REAL criminals, not the penny ante individuals.
Now the focus has shifted to wrecking the “non-profits” that actually help people, and do not take big salaries for themselves: because they are often run by volunteers or untrained persons of good will but lack of expertise, their bookkeeping is not always up to par: so why not point out the errors, help them straighten out their books, and help them stay out of trouble? I do not know of any small charitable non=profit whose leadership has gotten rich off their funds. The very small number of them that are really frauds are taken care of quickly and effectively. Let’s fix, rather than punish.

InCity Voices: Raise the minimum wage to help 1 in 5 low-wage workers in our state

By Lewis Finfer

This summer, 800 residents, including delegations from EPOCA and SEIU members in Worcester,  packed a State House hearing room to ask for a hike in the state’s minimum wage which was last raised January 1, 2008. The proposed legislation (H. 1701, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Cabral; S. 878, sponsored by Sen. Marc Pacheco and 58 other legislators) would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour within three years.

Estimates suggest this increase would impact 580,000 low wage earners, a disproportionate of whom live in the state’s Gateway Cities like Worcester. Higher wages would provide an injection of $720 million in to the local economies of our cities if the minimum wage were raised to $10 an hour.

According to a 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, every dollar added to the hourly minimum wage resulted in $2,800 in yearly additional consumer spending by that worker’s household. Gateway Cities would see great benefits without much risk to their economies.

While opponents argue minimum wage increases lead to layoffs, economic research suggests communities that have raised their minimum wages have not experienced greater employment loss than comparable areas.

Contact your state legislators and ask them to work actively for passage of this bill.

While we need a comprehensive strategy to support the growth and renewal of our Gateway Cities like Worcester, a long overdue minimum wage increase is one effective response we should put in place without delay.

Lewis Finfer is the director of Massachusetts Communities Action Network

TO LEARN MORE, PLEASE VISIT: www.mcan-oltc.org

Worcester group joins the fight to make the minimum wage a living wage!

Do we agree with all their talking points? Abso-fuckin’-lutely!!! – R. Tirella

Hearing & Rally to Raise the Minimum Wage

Tuesday, June 11, at 10 a.m. at the State House in Gardiner Auditorium

Free buses leave Worcester City Hall at 8:30 a.m.
We’ll get back to Worcester by 5 p.m. (or earlier).

Join EPOCA in a solidarity action with Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN), Mass. AFL-CIO, SEIU State Council, Coalition for Social Justice/Coalition Against Poverty, Chelsea Collaborative, Brockton Interfaith Community, UIA of New Bedford and Fall River, Essex County Community Organization, MASSUniting, Jobs with Justice & NE United for Justice in demanding that the minimum wage be raised from $8 to $11 in our state.
Good Jobs that Pay a Living Wage: Raising Massachusetts

Legislation to raise the minimum wage: An Act to Promote the Commonwealth’s Economic Recovery with a Strong Minimum Wage

Our friends at MCAN are working on legislation, House 1701 and Senate 878 to:

1. Raise the minimum wage from $8 and hour to $11 an hour over 2+ years

2. Index it to inflation so it’s value is kept up

3. Raise the wages of tipped employees from 30% of the minimum wage up to 70%

580,000 low wage earners in Massachusetts will benefit [those earning $12 an hour or less now]. The minimum wage was last raised on January 1, 2008 and everyone knows just how much gas, oil, and food prices have increased since then. More than 2/3 of low wage earners are adults.

Most low wage earners work for large, profitable companies like Walmart, TJX/Marshalls/Home Goods, McDonalds, Burger King and supermarket chains. The CEO of TJX/Marshalls earned $21 million last year while three quarters of their workforce only had part time work and most earned at or near the minimum wage.

Economic Impact: The additional money that low wage earners will receive through minimum wage increases will be spent in the economy and therefore, boost it.

The Man who said “Nay” and more stories/columns on the “fiscal cliff” debacle

I’m disappointed in President Obama/Democrats re: fiscal cliff. It was supposed to be: Raise taxes on a person who makes $150,000 + a year – that’s what our prez said a few years ago. Then it went up to $250,000. Yesterday it was settled: Now it is don’t raise taxes on anyone unless they make  …. $450,000+  a year.  Insane! Where is Obama’s backbone? … And as far as Medicare goes, YES, I think we need to start cutting back in terms of benefits for folks making more than, say, $110,000 a year. We shouldn’t raise the age that folks are eligible to receive social security but if you are super wealthy, your benefits should be cut. You don’t need the dough. We DO need to look at the Great Society programs, etc. and start cutting back for the wealthy.  …  My list goes on … . Some stories/columns on the issues.  – R. Tirella

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The Man who said “Nay”
Published: January 02, 2013


Michael Bennet was supposed to be going off a cliff in Vail.

But instead of his usual New Year’s trip to a ski lodge with his wife and three daughters, the junior senator from Colorado found himself in a strange, unfamiliar place in the middle of the night: breaking with the president and his party to become one of only three Democratic senators and eight senators total to vote against President Obama’s fiscal deal.

“I was a little surprised that the margin of the vote was so big,” said a weary Senator Bennet, who seemed a bit taken aback to be such an outlier. He was munching on a late-afternoon cheese steak sandwich at “George’s, King of Falafel and Cheese Steaks.” (The senator loves falafel, which his girls call “feel awful.”)

“I almost ordered extra cheese,” he said sheepishly, “but I would have been embarrassed.”

Long before Bennet came to work in the “land of flickering lights,” as he mockingly calls the dysfunctional nation’s capital where he grew up, Frank Capra dreamed him up. In a Congress that has become opéra bouffe, Bennet is the freckled blond choir boy singing a cappella. The 48-year-old senator looks like the Yale law student he once was, wearing a Jos. A. Bank plaid shirt, gray sweater and khakis. “These are the only clothes I have in Washington that’s not a suit,” he grins.

As Katherine Boo wrote in The New Yorker, back when Bennet was the crusading Denver schools superintendent, his open face and amiable manner “only partly masked the intensity and severity of his judgments.” He was, Boo wrote, “an overachiever. He liked to announce improbable goals, then defy expectations of failure.”

Voting to let the country fall off the cliff was an audacious, even precocious, move by the Democratic golden boy and presidential pet – one that, oddly, put him on the side of Marco Rubio and Rand Paul rather than Obama and Joe Biden. “It is an interesting group,” he deadpanned about the naysayers.

He also had to go against Majority Leader Harry Reid, who anointed the freshman to be the new leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. …

to read more, click on link below:



David Brooks

Josh Haner/The New York Times David Brooks

Another Fiscal Flop
Published: January 01, 2013

Over the course of the 20th century, America built its welfare state. It was, by and large, a great achievement, expanding opportunity and security for millions. Unfortunately, as the population aged and health care costs surged, it became unaffordable.

Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was around 38 percent in 1965. It is around 74 percent now. Debt could approach a ruinous 90 percent of G.D.P. in a decade and a cataclysmic 247 percent of G.D.P. 30 years from now, according to the Congressional Budget Office and JPMorgan.

By 2025, entitlement spending and debt payments are projected to suck up all federal revenue. Obligations to the elderly are already squeezing programs for the young and the needy. Those obligations will lead to gigantic living standard declines for future generations. According to the International Monetary Fund, meeting America’s long-term obligations will require an immediate and permanent 35 percent increase in all taxes and a 35 percent cut in all benefits.

So except for a few rabid debt-deniers, almost everybody agrees we have to do something fundamental to preserve these programs. The problem is that politicians have never found a politically possible way to begin. Every time they tried to reduce debt, they ended up borrowing more and making everything worse.

So Congress and President Obama set up the “fiscal cliff,” an artificial disaster scenario that would force them to do the right thing. Obviously, the fiscal cliff negotiations were not going to lead toward the deep structural reforms that will eventually be needed. But they could have begun the reform process.

They could have shown the world that the two parties can work together to avert the eventual calamity. They could have produced a balanced program that would have combined spending cuts and targeted tax increases. They could have reduced Medicare spending on the rich to free up more money for young families.

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner both earnestly wanted to achieve these things. But the deal we are heading toward is discouraging. Yes, the deal does raise $600 billion in revenue over 10 years from a tiny sliver of the population (compared with the $8 trillion in new debt likely to be accrued over that time).

But the proposal is not a balance of taxes and spending cuts. It doesn’t involve a single hard decision. It does little to control spending. It abandons all of the entitlement reform ideas that have been thrown around. It locks in low tax rates on families making less than around $450,000; it is simply impossible to avert catastrophe unless tax increases go below that line.

Far from laying the groundwork for future cooperation, it sentences the country to another few years of budget trench warfare. There will be a fight over drastic spending cuts known as sequestration, then over the debt limit and on and on. …

to read more, click on link below:

Lines of Resistance on Fiscal Deal
By Jonathan Weisman
Published: January 1, 2013

— Just a few years ago, the tax deal pushed through Congress on Tuesday would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy, a sweeping bill that locks in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts, exempts almost all estates from taxation, and enshrines the former president’s credo that dividends and capital gains should be taxed equally and gently.

But times have changed, President George W. Bush is gone, and before the bill’s final passage late Tuesday, House Republican leaders struggled all day to quell a revolt among caucus members who threatened to blow up a hard-fought compromise that they could have easily framed as a victory. Many House Republicans seemed determined to put themselves in a position to be blamed for sending the nation’s economy into a potential tailspin under the weight of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

The latest internal party struggle on Capitol Hill surprised even Senate Republicans, who had voted overwhelmingly for a deal largely hashed out by their leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The bill passed the Senate, 89 to 8, at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, with only 5 of the chamber’s 47 Republicans voting no.

Twenty-one hours later, the same measure was opposed by 151 of the 236 Republicans voting in the House. It was further proof that House Republicans are a new breed, less enamored of tax cuts per se than they are driven to shrink government through steep spending cuts. Protecting nearly 99 percent of the nation’s households from an income tax increase was not enough if taxes rose on some and government spending was untouched. …

to read more, click on link below:

The Twinkie Manifesto

Great Op-Ed from The New York Times’  Paul Krugman – R. T.
The Twinkie Manifesto
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: November 19, 2012

The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s – the Twinkie Era – do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders. … “

To read more, please click on the link below. R.T.:

We must stop protecting the rich from market forces

Great piece from The Guardian. – R.T.

By Ha-Joon Chang, The Guardian

The ‘American’ global economy punishes the poor while giving handouts to failing banks. It’s time for some balance …


A Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) branch in central London 
“Gore Vidal, the recently demised American writer, once famously quipped that the US economic system is “free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich”.

“Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, not only has the US lived up to Vidal’s caricature but the whole of the rich capitalist world has become more “American”. The poor are increasingly exposed to market forces, with tougher conditions on the diminishing state protection they get, while the rich have unprecedented levels of protection from the state, with virtually no strings attached.

“The poor are told that their states are bankrupt because their previous governments splashed out on welfare payments for them.

They – especially if they happen to be from the “lazy” eurozone periphery countries – are lectured that they have to pay for the “good times” they had with “other people’s money” by working harder at lower wages and by accepting lower levels of welfare provision, with more stringent conditions.

Of course, this narrative is completely misleading. The current budget deficits are mainly the outcomes of the fall in tax revenues caused by the financial crisis, rather than excessive social spending … ”

To read the entire article, click on the link below: