Connect with us

Politics

Workers in 15 Cities Strike for $15 Minimum Wage as Lawmakers Continue Debate

Published

on

  • Hundreds of fast-food workers in 15 different U.S. cities went on strike Tuesday demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage while lawmakers continue to debate including the ask in the next stimulus package.
  • President Joe Biden included the $15 increase in his proposal, but it is unclear if the measure will get enough support in the Senate because some Democrats have signaled opposition to the idea.
  • That same Tuesday, Senators Mitt Romney (R-Ut.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ak.) proposed a standalone bill that would increase the minimum wage to an unknown number.
  • The legislation would also contain a provision that would prevent businesses from hiring undocumented workers, making it unlikely to garner support from Democrats.

Fast Food Workers Strike 

Employees of large fast-food chains held strikes in 15 cities throughout American on Tuesday, with hundreds joining the call for the federal government to institute a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The strike was part of the nationwide Fight for $15 movement, which has organized workers and walkouts around the country to push for the wage rise since 2012. While some states have risen their wage floors, the federal minimum has remained at just $7.25-an-hour for 11 years — the longest period without an increase since the minimum wage was first implemented in the U.S. during the 1930s.

The workers, who came from major chains like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King, were also calling for union rights and better COVID-19 protections. On top of that, Fight for $15 told Insider that the strike honors Black history month and Black communities “who have faced generations of low pay and insufficient protections on the job, leaving them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Notably, Fight for $15 additionally said that home care and nursing home workers — including some who belong to major unions — also joined the fast-food workers.

Stimulus Negotiations Continue

While this movement has continued for several years, these most recent strikes come as lawmakers debate enacting a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage as part of the stimulus package.

President Joe Biden, who made the idea a central campaign promise, included the raise in his $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) has said the $15 increase will be included in the lower chamber’s version of the bill, but it is unclear if the measure will get enough support in the Senate.

Including minimum wage in the stimulus relief package poses both a unique opportunity and a unique obstacle. Democrats are moving the legislation forward through a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows the Senate to pass large budget-related bills with just 50 votes rather than the 60 normally required.

That means the party could approve an increase in the minimum wage without any Republicans, but it also means that all 50 Democratic Senators would need to sign onto any final version of the legislation in order for the package to get passed.

However, Joe Manchin (D-WV.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.) have said they oppose including the provision in the stimulus bill.

Possible Paths Forward

There is still a possibility that a minimum wage increase could be passed separately from the stimulus package, but if that were to happen, Democrats would have to negotiate and agree with Republicans, which would make the process a lot messier, if not impossible.

For example, Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT.) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) proposed a standalone bill on Tuesday that would increase the minimum wage to an unknown number, but it would also include a provision that would prevent businesses from hiring undocumented workers.

That tradeoff would almost certainly not fly with Democrats. Still, it does provide a glimpse of the kind of concessions Democrats would be asked to engage in if they had to work with Republicans. 

Biden, for his part, reaffirmed his commitment to including the minimum wage in the stimulus package while speaking at a town hall event Tuesday. Notably, the president also said he was open to negotiating certain aspects, like a longer gradual phase-in for the $15 than the five years outlined under the Democrat’s current plan.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (The Washington Post) (Fast Company)

Politics

Virginia Governor’s Tip Line to Report Teachers Spammed by Trolls

Published

on

The tip line was created for parents to report educators who violate the governor’s new executive orders banning critical race theory and making masking optional.


Youngkin’s Controversial Policies

Celebrities, TikTok activists, and other social media users have been spamming an email tip line set up by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) intended for parents to report teachers and “divisive practices in their schools.”

The tip line was implemented after the new governor enacted several highly controversial policies targeted at public schools in the weeks since taking office.

On his first day, Youngkin signed an executive order banning so-called critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in public schools. CRT, which is largely taught in higher education institutions, is not included in Virginia’s curriculum standards. As a result, many educators and scholars have expressed concerns that the policy will be used to broadly restrict the accurate teaching of history.

Shortly after imposing the CRT ban, Youngkin further angered educators by signing an executive order making masking optional in schools. According to a recent analysis by The Washington Post, the majority of Virginia schools enrolling two-thirds of all students have actively disobeyed the order.

The email tip line, introduced Monday, is intended to report educators and schools that do not follow Youngkin’s policies.

Calls to Spam Tip Line

The tattle-on-a-teacher tip line prompted widespread criticism. Many people took to Twitter to urge other users to spam the email, including major names with massive followings, like musician John Legend.

“Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced. We are parents too,” he tweeted. 

Several TikTok activists also encouraged their followers to bomb the tip line as well, including 21-year-old Sofia Ongele, who even launched a website that automatically generates emails to send to the line that include the name of a public school in Virginia and lyrics to a pop song.

Ongele told Insider that, so far, the website has gotten a lot of traffic, attracting about 1,500 people every 30 minutes.

These efforts are not the first time social media users, and specifically young TikTokers, have encouraged others to troll a tip line set up by conservative figures. In September, TikTokers also sent fake reports, porn, and Shrek memes to a tip line intended to report people who violated Texas’ six-week abortion ban.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Insider) (WDBJ7)

Continue Reading

Politics

Federal Court Throws Out Alabama Congressional Map, Citing Racial Gerrymandering

Published

on

The judges ruled that the Republican-held legislature gerrymandered the map so the state only had one Black-majority district despite Black residents composing 27% of the state’s population.


Alabama Ordered to Redraw Map

A panel of federal judges tossed Alabama’s new congressional map on Monday, ruling that the current version significantly weakens the voting power of Black residents.   

In their decision, the three judges noted that while about 27% of Alabamians are Black, the map drawn by the Republican-led legislature after the 2020 census was gerrymandered to leave just one of the state’s seven districts with a Black majority.

“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the judges wrote. “We find that the plaintiffs will suffer an irreparable harm if they must vote in the 2022 congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law.”

As a result, the panel also ordered state lawmakers to redraw their map so that it includes “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”

The legislature was given 14 days to redo their map before they appoint a special master to do so.

Ongoing Legal Battles

Shortly after the ruling, a spokesperson for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement that his office “strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and will be appealing in the coming days.” 

According to reports, the matter could ultimately go to the Supreme Court, which would decide whether lawmakers can draw maps that are gerrymandered along racial lines.

The high court ruled in 2019 that federal courts do not have the power to block congressional maps that are gerrymandered to skew districts in a partisan manner unless a state’s constitution explicitly prohibits such gerrymandering. The justices did keep parts of the Voting Rights Act that ban racial or ethnic gerrymandering, which the federal panel claimed was the case in Alabama.

Alabama’s congressional map is not the only one drawn by Republicans that has been thrown out in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Ohio’s Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw a map that would have given Republicans 12 congressional seats and Democrats just three despite the fact that recently the GOP has only won about 55% of the popular vote statewide.

The state’s high court ruled that the map clearly violated a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2018 that effectively banned partisan gerrymandering.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (AL.com)

Continue Reading

Politics

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Affirmative Action Cases at Harvard and UNC

Published

on

The decision to take up the two cases marks the first time affirmative action will go before the high court’s latest conservative-majority bloc.


SCOTUS Takes on Race-Conscious Admissions, Again

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will again consider whether race-conscious admissions programs at universities are legal in two cases that could have serious implications for affirmative action.

The two lawsuits center around admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), both of which were brought by the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions.

The Harvard case started in 2014 with a lawsuit that claimed the school discriminated against Asian American students by effectively creating a quota for their admission. It also alleged the school a subjective standard to measure personality traits like likability, courage, and kindness.

The Ivy League school denied the allegations, claiming the challengers used incorrect statistical analysis and broadly arguing that race-conscious policies are legal.

In the case against UNC, the group alleged that the school discriminated against white and Asian applicants by giving preference to Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.

The university, for its part, argued that its policies create more diversity among its student body, also echoing Harvard’s argument that such rules are legal under decades of Supreme Court precedents.

Past Precedent Up in the Air

Lower courts ruled in favor of both schools, finding they did indeed comply with Supreme Court decisions.

But in taking up these two cases, the high court’s conservative majority will now examine whether race-conscious admissions are legal at all. The move could decide the future of affirmative action and undermine more than four decades of precedent on the use of race in college admissions.

The last two times the high court took up cases regarding affirmative action, the justices upheld the constitutionality of race-conscious programs by slim majorities. Now, those majorities have been replaced by a conservative bloc that includes three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump.

According to reports, the justices will likely hear the cases in October. 

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)

Continue Reading