Workers Celebrate Positive Impact of Johnson County Wage

In 2015, Johnson County workers won a long-overdue, historic minimum wage increase when the Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved raising the minimum wage in three steps: to $8.20 in November 2015; $9.15 on May 1, 2016, and $10.10 on January 1, 2017. After years of inaction from Congress, County Supervisors joined 29 states and dozens of other cities and counties in taking necessary action to address the growing crisis poverty wages are causing for Iowa families, schools, social services, and local economies.

By 2017 when the state legislature banned local minimum wage increases, three other Iowa counties had followed Johnson County’s lead and were poised to raise wages for tens of thousands more working Iowans. CWJ has since led efforts to maintain the Johnson County increase by seeking commitments from employers to voluntarily honor the $10.10 minimum wage. Over 160 Johnson County businesses have so far pledged to maintain the higher wage, with many now proudly displaying signs in support of the higher minimum.

Iowa’s current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour translates to $15,080 for a full-time, year-round worker, not enough to meet an individual’s basic needs in any Iowa community, much less support a family. Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased on January 1, 2008, meaning Iowa minimum wage workers have not had a raise in a full decade.

“This report is the latest milestone in our ongoing community campaign to achieve living wages for all workers. Two years ago, Johnson County residents came together to demonstrate broad community support for increasing the minimum wage. Data in the county’s new report backs up what workers and employers alike have experienced since 2015: raising wages is good for families, for business, and for our local economy. In 2018, we’ll continue urging more Johnson County employers to join the over 160 businesses who have already pledged to uphold our community wage standard of $10.10. The Iowa legislature attacked workers in 2017 by making local wage increases illegal and trying to lower the wages of 65,000 Iowa workers. But they can’t stop our local progress or keep our community from coming together to raise wages and strengthen our economy.”  Rafael Morataya Executive Director of Center for Worker Justice

Read the Minimum Wage Report on this link 

 

 …

Our 2017 Winners

“We are here to stay! Immigrants are here to stay! Our minimum wage is here to stay! Our unions are here to stay!”

CWJ is proud to Honor those Leaders in our Community who have contributed to improving our  lives in the last year; here are the Winners:

Emerging Leader: Margarita 

Volunteer of the Year: Sally HartmanRecognition for Improving our Community: Johnson County Supervisors

Recognition of Work Team: Forest View Tenant Association

Momentum keeps building for $10.10 – the list so far:

Over 100 businesses have committed to honoring a livable wage within our community – but we’re not going to stop there. Every day, we’re working to make sure that number grows, and working to make sure that each worker in our community is getting what they need and deserve.

Click the headline for the full list of businesses so far, alphabetically organized. Want to support our fight? Donate here!…

It’s not about charity – it’s about justice

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working hard to make sure that local businesses continue to honor a minimum wage that our community can actually live off of. With the passage of HSB92, local businesses no longer have a legal obligation to continue to pay $10.10, but as Rev. Rudolph T. Juárez points out in his recent op-ed, it’s not enough for us to preform simple acts of charity, but to go after the root causes of suffering and injustice in our community – in other words, fighting for a better minimum wage.

“The foot of charity is well-received in society because it generates a “feel good — one with humanity” kind of sentiment in us. It is socially acceptable because it is practiced by saints, religious organizations, civic groups and well-intentioned individuals. The hallmarks of charity are food pantries, bus-tickets, homeless shelters, and handouts that satisfy the immediate needs of people.

The foot of justice, on the other hand, is not always so well accepted, and its effects not so immediate or obvious. Justice addresses the root causes of hunger, homelessness and poverty. It can be controversial, because it is practiced by organizers, activists and prophets. The hallmarks of justice are community organizing, advocacy and political involvement. Justice looks for long-term results…..

….By law, employers can revert to paying the old minimum wage. But legal and moral are not necessarily synonymous. No, there are moral implications as to how we treat workers, how we invest in our community and how we promote the common good. These are the questions employers should be asking themselves and these are the questions consumers need to be asking before frequenting certain businesses. And more to the point, in the downward spiral of wages, who is it that has to bear the brunt of the kind of regressive legislation we are seeing in 2017?”

Read the full article at The Gazette

 …

Second Gala Fundraiser October 21

 

Celebrate local progress with us at CWJ’s Second Annual Gala on October 21, 2017 at 6:00 PM! Our members and allies have built a vibrant organization bringing hundreds together across boundaries of race, national origin, and immigration status. Through the hard work of our community, we’ve redefined what’s politically possible in our region.

We’re delighted to announce the return of the amazingly talented duo, Calle Suras the night’s musical guest as we honor the achievements and hard work of our members.

Here is the link to purchase tickets for the GALA 

Victory! – Unpaid wages recovered

Case came to the CWJ in April for help in recovering over $400 in unpaid wages owed by her former employer – money needed for car payments, groceries, and other essentials. After working with us and out supporters, she was able to receive pay for her missing hours.
Wage theft and abuse has no place in our community, and even one instance of it is too many. In April of this year, the Center for Worker Justice helped recover over $1000 in unpaid wages, in part of our efforts to demand better for our workers and our community.

Who has committed to $10.10?

We’ve been hard at work asking local businesses to commit to continuing to support our community by paying at least $10.10 wage to all their workers, irregardless of what happens in Des Moines. For the full, continually updating list, follow this link or click the headline above:

 

https://www.cwjiowa.org/moving-forward-local-businesses-who-have-comitted-to-10-10/

Bill or no bill, we’re fighting for $10.10

HF 295 – the state bill that would attempt to roll back critical and hard-fought victories regarding the minimum wage and worker’s rights – has past its final hurdle in the Iowa Senate, and is now waiting to be signed by Governor Terry Branstad.

But we’re not waiting for that day.

Writing for the Gazette, Mitchell Schmidt has detailed our ongoing efforts to urge local businesses to continue paying their workers a living wage, to continue to offer the same level of economic support that members of our community rely upon to provide for themselves and their families. So far, we’ve heard from fifteen different businesses that they were going to commit to paying $10.10 an hour, and we’re continuing day in and day out to make that number as high as possible.

Our community organizer Mazahir Salih has been working since earlier this week asking businesses to make these commitments. Schmidt writes:

Salih, [community organizer for] the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, recently began meeting with downtown Iowa City business owners to encourage them to stick with any wage increases established by the county’s minimum wage ordinance, which first passed in 2015.

“We hope they continue to pay the Johnson County minimum wage, that’s our hope right now. We don’t have another choice,” Salih said. “We believe that those in Des Moines, they are not the residents of Johnson County.”

Earlier this week, Salih began asking business owners not only to keep current wages above $10.10 an hour, but also to pledge to hire all future employees at that rate or higher — essentially acting as if the county’s ordinance still were in effect.

Those who agree are given a poster that states they support the county’s ordinance.

That ordinance will be abolished if Gov. Terry Branstad signs House File 295, which rolls back higher minimum wage thresholds approved in at least five counties including Johnson and Linn. The bill pre-empts counties from passing higher minimum wage ordinances in the future and reaffirms $7.25 an hour as the state minimum wage.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, last week said he suspected majority Republicans were pressing ahead with the pre-emption bill to beat Polk County’s April 1 implementation date in boosting the minimum wage there to $8.75 an hour.

But some area business owners said they don’t plan to cut raises that were forced by local wage increases.

So far, Salih said she has heard from 15 businesses who intend to keep wages above $10.10 per hour.

“I just really appreciate the businesses in the downtown area who say they are going to keep it at $10.10,” she said. “It makes a big difference in (employees’) lives. They are able to buy enough food for their children, they can buy new clothes for them.”

 

Read the full article here:

http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/government/local/johnson-county-prepares-for-minimum-wage-pre-emption-20170329

 

 …

Employers: stand up for our workers, our values, and honor $10.10

Asking anyone to live off of $7.25 – just $14,500 a year – is absurd, let alone asking anyone to support a family on such an income. On March 8th, we gathered to call on local businesses to honor the Johnson County minimum wage of $10.10, irregardless of whatever happens because of bills such as House File 295, which would roll back important victories regarding the minimum wage and also prevent any passage of laws relating to worker’s rights, housing discrimination, and some environmental regulations, all issues which disproportionately affect some of our community’s most vulnerable – and valuable – members.

Writing for The Gazette, columnist Paul Street makes the argument about the importance of fighting to protect gains in minimum wage, by breaking down the cost of living in Iowa City to show what a living wage would truly look like in Eastern Iowa, and attacking the callous cruelty of state legislators in Des Moines who are currently trying to remove our local legislature’s ability to set a local minimum wage that meets the needs of our community.

“How coldly Dickensian is it, then, for the reigning Republicans in Des Moines to be moving ahead with a state bill (House File 295) that would nullify the recent county-level minimum wage increases and pre-empt local and county jurisdictions from passing any such measures again in the future? HF295 recently passed in the Iowa House.

HF295 sponsor Rep. John Landon (R-Ankeny) says that his measure seeks to create “a level playing field” in all Iowa communities. “This comes,” he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “because of the patchwork effect that it creates on trying to operate businesses that are multicounty, that are multistate. It makes it difficult to keep track of each and every initiative that is passed that would impact that business as far as wages or other conditions.”

Does Landon really think Iowa employers are incapable of adjusting compensation to city- and country-level ordinances among other factors that create different labor markets across locales? Does it not matter to him that it costs considerably more to live in Iowa City and Des Moines than in Red Oak or Fort Dodge? Does he really want to begrudge a full-time American worker the right to make at least $20,000 a year, giving employers the right to push that annual income back as far as $14,500? How about passing a uniform state increase in the minimum wage?”

Read the full article here:

http://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/guest-columnists/the-assault-on-county-minimum-wages-20170318

Stand with Iowan Women: Protect Our Wages


WHAT: International Woman’s Day of Action with CWJ

WHEN: 4:30PM, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WHERE: Ped Mall, 201 Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240

Corporate lobbyists representing big banks, hotel chains, and grocery stores are backing House File 295 in the Iowa statehouse that would lower our minimum wage and prohibit cities and counties from passing laws relating to workers’ rights, housing discrimination, and some environmental regulations.

The majority of minimum wage workers are women. Many women led the struggle for a higher wage two years ago. Women’s labor is worth more than poverty wages. 

We want answers from the businesses who fund and serve on the boards of these groups – such as HyVee, Fareway, Casey’s, Wells Fargo, West Bank, MidWest One, Iowa City Sheraton, Fairfield Inn, and Coralville Marriott. We are your workers and customers. We call on all our local businesses to:

  • Take a public stand – oppose House File 295 slashing pay, civil rights
  • Pledge to maintain our local minimum wage of $10.10/hour

Take action this Wednesday, 4:30p on the Ped Mall to take a stand on International Woman’s Day. Women’s voices will be heard. …