Interfaith Worker Justice

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Support Worker Justice on Giving Tuesday

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

Much of the news over the past few days has centered on the amount of retail sales on Black Friday and through the weekend. Economists measure the health of our nation, in part, based on how much we buy in the days following Thanksgiving.

But we know that the true reflection of our values as a nation of generosity and love is not how much we spend on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

For those of us committed to worker justice, the spirit of our nation is embodied by how much of ourselves we give away, not by how many things we buy.

Will you give to IWJ this Giving Tuesday?

This year, you’ve given by fasting for our sisters and brothers who work in low-wage service jobs and deserve a living wage and a union. You’ve given time and resources to help victims of wage theft recover tens of thousands of dollars. You’ve given money to help build a brand-new wage theft website to help workers and organizations put a stop to this multi-billion dollar epidemic. You’ve given your voice to call out unscrupulous businesses who don’t provide a safe place to work or retaliate against workers for organizing.

This Giving Tuesday, would you be willing to give a little more?

We have a lot of exciting campaign work to look forward to in 2016 and your support will help realize these plans. From pushing the biggest poultry producers in the country to improve worker safety conditions to continuing to add interactive features to our new wage theft website, your financial backing will provide a sustainable financial plan for the IWJ network to push boldly forward in the fight for worker justice.

Right now, we are just $4,378 away from our Giving Tuesday fundraising goal.

Will you give whatever you can today to help beat our goal and head into the new year with the financial support to hit the ground running on our 2016 organizing plan?

Whether your issue is winning a living wage and a union for low-wage workers, improving workplace safety, or ending wage theft in America once and for all, your generous contribution will help move all of this campaign work and more.

If everyone on this list gave just $20, IWJ would have the resources to implement our 2016 campaign plan in full before the calendar year even turns.  

Donate what you can and support worker justice on this Giving Tuesday. When you make a contribution of at least $30 this Giving Tuesday, we'll send you an IWJ t-shirt to show off your commitment to worker justice.

Thank you, as always, for your work and commitment to worker justice.


Rudy López, Executive Director, Interfaith Workers Justice

How Poor Single Moms Survive

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

From The Atlantic:

Pity the married working mom, who barely has time to do the dishes or go for a run at night, much less spend a nice evening playing Boggle with her husband and kids.

But if married working parents are struggling with time management these days, imagine the struggles of low-income single parents. Single-parent households (which by and large are headed by women) have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960. Now, 35 percent of children live in single-parent households.

But while the numbers are growing, the amount of help available to single mothers is not. Ever since the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Law (generally referred to as welfare reform) placed time limits and work requirements on benefits in an effort to get welfare recipients back into the workforce, single-parent families have had a harder time receiving government benefits. Some states have made it more difficult for low-income single-parent families to get other types of assistance too, such as imposing work requirements and other barriers for food stamps. According to a recent New York Times column, between 1983 and 2004, government benefits dropped by more than a third for the lowest-income single-parent families.

So how do they manage? How do single moms with few resources and little income survive?

“They trade, they bargain, they strategize, they give each other daycare help, they share housing and food—women learn to strategize their way through all of these resources,” Suzanne Morrissey, a professor at Whitman College who has studied these families, told me.

Research suggests that while two-parent families may be isolated islands of efficiency, single parents—even poor ones—rely on an ever-expanding social network to get by. That social network has become even more important in the wake of welfare reform, when women who couldn’t find work could no longer count on cash assistance, and had to depend on their families and friends.

“It was really piecing together help from family and friends, letting bills stay unpaid, and in some of the more dire situations, they doubled up with friends and other family members because housing is such a big cost,” said Kristin Seefeldt, a professor at the University of Michigan who recently released a study about the strategies used by low-income parents in the wake of welfare reform.

According to the paper, published last month by Seefeldt and Heather Sandstrom with the Urban Institute, many women did move off the welfare rolls and into jobs after welfare reform went into effect. But as the economy took a turn for the worse and women weren’t able to find jobs, a number of families became “disconnected,” meaning they were neither in the formal labor market nor the welfare system. About one-fifth of all low-income single mothers were“disconnected” in 2008, up from 12 percent in 2004, and these mothers had a median annual income of $535, Seefeldt said.

Davis has been able to find minimum-wage work over the years at fast-food restaurants and grocery stores, but the money is barely enough to feed five kids, pay the rent, and put gas in her car. Improving her opportunities through education, a key idea behind welfare reform, was nearly impossible with the jobs available to her and the time constraints she faced because of motherhood. A few years ago, she tried to go back to school, but the only classes that fit her schedule were online. It was tough to attend online classes and do school work while raising five kids and working part-time, so Davis ended up failing two semesters and quitting.

Find the full article from The Atlantic.

The Problem with Worker Protections and Benefits in the Gig Economy

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

neetalparekh / Flickr

neetalparekh / Flickr

From Forbes:

Economics and Finance Opinion Piece by Tim Worstall

This is actually an interesting problem that the new gig economy of Uber, TaskRabbit and the rest is throwing up. How do we provide those usual employment protections to people who are, legally and for the moment at least, working as independent contractors, not employees? Those benefits and protections being the usual difference between employee and contractor. And the really interesting thing about this is that the answer might well be, well, we just don’t. This is not certain by the way: it’s only a possibility. But there is indeed that possibility that the workers themselves say that they don’t want to have the protections, they’d rather have the cash. And if that’s so then there’s near a century of progressive legislation at risk here. But, if the people don’t want it then there’s nothing wrong with dismantling the structure.

This is brought on by Laura Tyson’s piece on worker protection in the gig economy. Entirely sensible points and suggestions are made:

New policies are needed to provide workers in contingent employment relationships access to benefits, and new institutions are needed to deliver them. There is growing support for the view that benefits should satisfy at least three conditions. They should be portable, attached to individual workers rather than to their employers. They should be universal, applying to all workers and all forms of employment. And they should be pro-rated, linking employer benefit contributions to time worked, jobs completed, or income earned.

I’ve certainly no objection to such individual security accounts. Sounds like a sensible way of dealing with the problem in fact. Except for one point. If you ask people whether they’d like sick pay they say yes. If you ask them whether they’d like to pay for sick pay, as opposed to be paid for it, they’re, at minimum, a lot less sure. If you ask them whether parental leave should be included in an employment contract most do say yes. Ask them to pay for it and support drops rather dramatically. And so it is for most of the components that make up the standard benefits package. Sure, there’s bits that employers have to give (paying their share of your Social Security pension for example) and there’s bits they’re tax privileged in providing (health insurance) and bits that some of them provide to produce a nice package (paid maternity leave for well paid staff). But economically all of these come directly from the cash wages of the employees. There’s always a choice here: pay more money or provide more in the benefits package. The employer is going to craft whatever mixture she thinks will best captivate those she wants to employ but all employers get this.

The sad fact is that not all employees do quite get this. That those benefits come at the cost of their cash income from the same work. And that’s a problem for this idea of individual security account. Because inevitably such accounts will make those costs highly visible. And those costs are high:

This is because most individuals who find work through digital job platforms operate as independent contractors, leaving them without the benefits and protections provided in standard employment contracts for full-time and part-time workers. The difference between the cost of a full-time employee with benefits and an independent contractor can be 30% or more, so there is a strong incentive for companies to replace workers on standard full-time employment contracts with independent contractors as long as companies can attract the talent they need.

The point being that the number of things in that package has grown over the decades. As has the cost of financing them. Social Security taxation started out at 2%: it’s now over 12%. And the whole package has never really been challenged on the grounds that it has just accreted. But now we come to a change, one that makes instantly obvious to the people paying into such an individual fund, quite how much that whole package is costing them. What? I can get a 30% pay rise just by saving for my own retirement and vacations?

I’ll do that then: that will be the answer of some significant number offered such a choice. And that, to talk politics for a moment, is why I think that the idea isn’t going to get very far. Because there’s people who insist that that package must be extended and more who insist that it should never be reduced. And yet if the workers are able to see directly, in each and every paycheck, how much it does cost them then there’ll be a lot of pressure to walk back on those rights.

It is actually economically sensible that everyone, whatever their employment status, should have such individual accounts. As such I support it as a policy idea. But I do fear it won’t happen, once people realize quite how many people are likely to say they’d prefer to have the money please, not the protections they’re supposed to want.

Find the full article from Forbes.

Nonprofits, Aiming for Relevance, Try On New Names

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

Penn State / Flickr

Penn State / Flickr

From The New York Times:

Something about the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City Inc. just did not sound right anymore.

For one, the council, a nonprofit organization, does not operate senior centers. It advocates against the abuse of older adults, helps them apply for rental and food assistance and lobbies for affordable housing on their behalf.

A year ago, the council began a search for a new name. Neither its existing name, all 10 words of it, nor its initials, C.S.C.S., could live up to everything the organization had done and is doing, said Igal Jellinik, who has led the group since 1987.

By July, the organization was Live-On NY.

Live-On NY is among dozens of nonprofit groups in the city and surrounding area that are shedding longstanding — and sometimes long-winded — names and embarking on efforts to rebrand themselves.

Organizations such as a food bank and a prison-reform group are weighing the risks and potential rewards of discarding names that, in some cases, they have had for more than 100 years.

A catchy name that succinctly captures a group’s mission can be a vital fund-raising tool at a time when even the smallest of organizations are just a Kickstarter campaign away from reaching millions of potential donors.

And with the Giving Tuesday initiative, now in its fourth year, joining Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the after-Thanksgiving competition for cash, nonprofits are facing some of the same pressures that retailers have long shouldered around this time of year.

“They feel the need to be relevant, emotionally relevant,” said David Kessler, a founder of Starfish, a brand consulting firm.

Some groups have received donations specifically to help pay for image makeovers, which can cost up to $200,000. Many have names and identities that no longer reflect what they do, if they ever did, said Kevin Lane Keller, a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College who teaches strategic brand management.

“One of the hardest things with nonprofits is that they do a lot of different things,” he said. “It’s hard to put in a box and put a label on. It’s a paragraph, not a couple of words.”

Find the full article from The New York Times.

Washington Post: In the paid family leave debate, pro-life, pro-family groups’ own policies are all over the map

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The Washington Post:

by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Katey Zeh was working as a global maternal health advocate for the United Methodist Church when she gave birth to a baby girl in 2014. It wasn’t until she was pregnant that she realized she would not be eligible for any paid maternity leave, the same policies she had been advocating for on behalf of the denomination.

The UMC provides 18 days of paid leave for agency employees, but Zeh did not receive any leave under the denomination’s policy because she was a contractor. She gave birth on a Monday, was answering work e-mails that Friday, and went back to work the following Monday.

“I was still bleeding,” she said of her recovery after giving birth. “I had these pictures [in my head] that the baby would sleep so much and I could be on e-mail and on phone calls. The reality was so different from that.”

Religious organizations that are also pro-life, pro-family and pro-justice provide a wide range of family leave policies, including some that offer no paid options. There are no consistent family leave policies between religious institutions. Many women like Zeh, however, are raising the issue within their own organizations.

“We talk about family a lot in the church,” said Zeh, who lives in Cary, N.C. “How can we say that we value family and not do the hard thing to make sure that families have what they need to be healthy and thriving?”

Pro-business vs. pro-family

Paid family leave has also become a topic in the presidential race, coming up in GOP and Democratic debates. Politically, attitudes about paid family leave tend to fall between those who believe the government should mandate some kind of paid leave, those who believe the government could provide tax credits to businesses or those who believe the government should not change anything.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan drew scrutiny this fall when he said, “I cannot and will not give up my family time” as a condition of his speaker candidacy. Ryan, who is a devout Catholic, has opposed family leave measures proposed over the past several years. A spokeswoman for Ryan declined to share the office’s policy on family leave for its congressional employees.

Read the full article from The Washington Post

Wall Street firms are banking on better family leave benefits to compete for talent

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |


From The Washington Post:

U.S. employees of the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse have another reason to be thankful on this post-holiday Monday. The firm announced today that it will be upping the length of its paid parental leave for primary caregivers to 20 weeks, making it among the longest paid leave benefits to be offered at a major bank.

The new policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will allow mothers or fathers who work at the firm to take up to 20 weeks of paid leave as long as they are the primary caregiver for the child. A similar benefit existed under the current policy, but it only allowed employees to take up to 12 weeks paid and eight weeks unpaid. Under the new benefit, the company also will now pay for an employee's nanny and infant to go along on business trips, and it will add "parental leave coaches" to help staffers and bosses manage the transitions in and out of these longer leave times.

Credit Suisse's policy is one of the longest paid leave policies at a major financial services firm. Many others, however, have also recently boosted the family-oriented benefits they offer in an effort to retain not only women but a generation of workers more interested in sharing parenting responsibilities between mothers and fathers.

Within the last year, for instance, both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup doubled their benefits for "secondary caregivers" to four weeks and two weeks, respectively. Blackstone Group upped its paid maternity leave to 16 weeks, and KKR also began paying for nannies this summer.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse's move is also a reminder of the ripple effect that the generous policies being offered at Silicon Valley tech companies are having across Corporate America. Some major banks—particularly in an era of relatively smaller bonuses and greater interest by young recruits inworking elsewhere—are acknowledging that to compete far outside the canyons of Wall Street for talent, they have to offer more to keep up.

"We recognize that our competition for talent is no longer just with financial services firms," said Elizabeth Donnelly, Credit Suisse's head of benefits for the Americas, in explaining the bank's reasons for the longer paid benefit. In addition to hedge funds, she noted, banks are increasingly competing for talent with technology firms such as Google or Facebook, and need to offer benefits that are on par.

The 20 weeks of paid leave at Credit Suisse is open to birth mothers, adoptive parents, and fathers whose spouse or partner has had a child as long as they are serving as the primary caregiver. That means a father—as long as he doesn't first take the week of paid leave Credit Suisse offers for "secondary caregivers" after the birth of the child—could elect to take up to 20 weeks off after his spouse goes back to work. The benefit can be taken anytime within the first 12 months of the child's life.

Find the full article from The Washington Post.

Remembering Bishop Jesse DeWitt

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kim Bobo |

Bishop Jesse DeWitt, the first Board President of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), died on Thanksgiving evening, November 26, 2015, just nine days short of his 97th birthday.  As Rev. Jim Sessions, a fellow United Methodist pastor and IWJ Board member, said, “It is the passing of an era.”

Bishop DeWitt was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  After high school, he worked on the assembly floor of the Packard auto factory, learning first-hand the importance of unions to workers.  Eventually, he put himself through college at Wayne State University. 

He attended seminary at Garrett Theological Seminary and was ordained a United Methodist pastor.  He served congregations in Detroit and Illinois.  He was elected to the episcopacy in 1972 and served both the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois conferences. His ministry always involved caring for both the spiritual and the physical components of people’s lives.  Bishop DeWitt was part of the generation of clergy who grew up with the labor movement.  He saw his ministry as intertwined with labor and justice. Throughout his life, he maintained and built strong personal ties with labor leaders and unions.

When the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues (later renamed to Arise Chicago) was first organized in 1991, Bishop DeWitt, who had recently retired, became one of its active leaders.  As an active Bishop, he downplayed pomp and ceremony, but he acquiesced to purchasing and wearing a purple Bishop’s collar for labor support rallies throughout Chicago.

In 1994 and 1995, Bishop DeWitt helped organize interfaith groups to support labor in Milwaukee and his home city of Detroit.

When Interfaith Worker Justice was organized in 1996, Bishop Jesse DeWitt agreed to be its first board president and devoted the following six years to building the organization.  He represented the organization at press and public events.  He communicated regularly with owners who were engaged in long-term struggles with employers.  He travelled with organizers and helped build new chapters.

As the new Executive Director of a start-up organization, I was guided and supported by Bishop DeWitt.  He was wise, strategic and kind.  He taught me how to lead prayer vigils outside factories and how to approach and diffuse anxious police officers.  He showed me how to plan and lead a good board meeting.  He talked through with me critical staffing and budget matters.  And he modeled in his own life and then encouraged me in mine how to devote time and attention to my dear husband and twin sons.

Although I have hundreds of memories of my time with Bishop DeWitt, the most poignant memory is of September 11, 2001, when we were together at a board meeting in Washington, DC. Together with the rest of the Board members, we watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center and we knew our world was changing.  Bishop DeWitt immediately led the board in prayers for our nation and its leaders. The next day, with all the airports and railways closed, a group of staff and board members headed west from DC in a large passenger van. I sat wedged between Bishop DeWitt and Rabbi Robert Marx, the second President of the Board, who insisted that I stop making phone calls and kept up lively banter the entire way home.

When Bishop DeWitt retired to Ann Arbor to be near his daughters, he focused on rebuilding the Detroit Metro Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and participated actively until his late eighties. 

Within the last year, when he knew he was dying, Bishop DeWitt asked his long-time friend, and recently retired United Methodist colleague, Rev. Ed Rowe to devote time and attention to the Detroit Interfaith chapter, which he has been doing faithfully and effectively.

The last time I saw Bishop Dewitt was in late May.  He was bedridden and being served by his daughters and HOSPICE nurses, but he was as sharp as ever and still focused on others.  He wanted to know how I and my kids were doing.  He asked if he could pray for me.  I was there visiting him, and he was praying for me. 

Bishop DeWitt was grateful for his beloved wife Annamary (who died in 2010), his daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was thankful for the opportunities he was given in life.  He particularly appreciated his time in the factory and the opportunity to attend seminary.  How fitting that he died on Thanksgiving Day.  He was a man of God who regularly gave thanks.

Bishop DeWitt was ready to die.  His family and loved ones will miss him, but, like the Apostle Paul, Bishop DeWitt can say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Thank you Bishop DeWitt for all you gave to me and the movement for worker justice.

A celebration of his life will be held on December 12 at 2 p.m. EST at the First United Methodist Church of An Arbor, MI

Memorial contributions may be made to Food Gatherers or to Garrett Evangelical Seminary for the DeWitt Scholarship Fund which supports students working in social justice and labor ministries like Interfaith Worker Justice (*please note "DeWitt Scholarship" in the "RESTRICTED TO" field).


Airport workers hope to get Thanksgiving travelers’ attention

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

From The Washington Post:

By: Luz Lazo

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year, workers at 15 major U.S. airports are planning a day of fasting, vigils and rallies, aiming to galvanize the traveling public’s support for their fight for better wages.

The workers— a mix of cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants and security officers— will wear buttons that say “Ask Me Why I’m Fasting” and pass out petitions and flyers illustrating their campaign for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, the Service Employees International Union said.

Besides pushing for $15 minimum hourly wages, the workers want health care, sick leave, retirement benefits and job protections. They’re also protesting threats against their efforts to unionize.

Last week, as many as 2,000 workers went on strike at seven major hubs, including New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. The walkout didn’t disrupt air travel, but workers and union leaders say they are planning to step up their efforts as the busy holiday season takes off.  Their goal is to put pressure on airports, airlines and, most importantly, the contractors that hire the workers.

“These used to be good jobs 20 years ago, but with subcontracting the jobs have really gone down,”  said Valarie Long, executive vice president of SEIU International. “Some people are making as little as $7.25 an hour, some less because they are considered tipped employees. It is clear that something needs to change and the workers are going to use this holiday season to make sure that the public knows this.”

The 24-hour fast, along with vigils and rallies, are being organized at San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland, Columbus, Minneapolis, Denver, Boston, New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia, Newark, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Reagan National airports.

At National, at least 300 workers pledged to participate in the fast from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday, workers and SEIU leaders said.

“I believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Alex Aram, 24, a fulltime baggage handler at National making $8.50 an hour through the facility service and management company Eulen America. “We all come from the same struggle, we all have the same thing in common and want it to get better.”

The national campaign mirrors that of fast-food restaurant workers who have been organizing in cities across the U.S. in their “Fight for $15″ campaign. The airport workers have gained steam, expanding from just a handful of airports three years ago to 15 major hubs, where workers have held strikes and protests, and in the process have won some concessions.

In Philadelphia, city leaders in June forced airline contractors to raise wages to $12 an hour. In Seattle, a state court ruled in August that a $15-an-hour minimum wage law applies to airport workers. And in South Florida, Broward County officials last month voted to extend a living-wage ordinance to contract airline workers, upping salaries by more than $3 an hour for some workers.

Members of the clergy and high profile politicians including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have also pledged support.

“Airport jobs should be good jobs,” Clinton said in a letter last month. “Too many workers are living on the brink, struggling to make ends meet. We need you out there saying loudly and clearly—no one who works an honest job in America should have to live in poverty.”

In Washington, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) was one of several members of Congress who last week spoke in solidarity with the workers strike outside the Capitol. Connolly bashed the workers’ salaries and conditions.

“Airports should be economic drivers, not sweatshops,” he said. “These men and women shouldn’t have to juggle multiple jobs and still struggle to pay the bills or support their families.”

The low-wage airport workers are employed by private contractors that are free to pay the minimum wage. Some workers, including wheelchair attendants are paid $3.77 an hour because they are considered to be tipped employees, workers said. In some markets, there is a push to be get the workers included under living-wage ordinances that cover employees working directly for the airports.

At National, where some workers began to organize over the summer, they are working to garner support from the travelers as well as urging more workers to join the effort. Some say they plan walkouts, rallies, and protests that could cause disruptions if no concessions are made.  This week, however, they say they will focus on fasting and prayer to bring awareness of the labor struggle during one of the year’s busiest travel days. AAA Travel estimates that nearly 47 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving and 3.6 million of them will fly.  Tuesday is traditionally the busiest travel day before the holiday.

“A lot of people think that we make a lot of money because we work at the airport. But they don’t know that we work for contractors who don’t pay their employees that much money,” said Tranden Baccus, 33, an Alexandria, Va. resident who makes $8.25 an hour as a baggage handler.  “There’s no benefits, not sick leave, no paid vacation. Nothing.”

Find the full article from The Washington Post.

A holiday boost for UAW workers

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

P.T. Manolakos / Flickr

P.T. Manolakos / Flickr

From The Detroit News:

By: Melissa Burden, Michael Wayland and Michael Martinez

An estimated 142,000 American autoworkers, including 60,000 in Michigan, will receive retroactive pay and $3,000-$10,000 signing bonuses before Christmas, following contract ratifications between Detroit’s Big Three and the United Auto Workers.

Collectively, contract bonuses from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are estimated to put more than $400 million, before taxes, into the pockets of hourly union members in this state. In addition, they’ll get retroactive pay from mid-September, when the previous contract expired.

Retailers across Metro Detroit and in plant communities across the U.S. are gearing up for the potential influx of buyers. Some businesses are soliciting autoworkers with special offers.

“Detroit’s retail fate and the auto industry are one and the same,” said Rachel Tronstein, president of Auburn Hills-based furniture retailer Gardner White. “We plan everything around it.”

At Gardner White furniture, autoworkers can receive about $500 cash back on purchases if they pay up front with bonus money. That offer can be combined with Black Friday deals.

GM and Ford contracts became effective Monday, following ratification Friday.

  • Fiat Chrysler workers rejected their first tentative contract before passing a second, more lucrative deal. The automaker’s 36,600 U.S. hourly workers received ratification bonuses Nov. 6, according to a compensation time line obtained by The Detroit News. Entry-level, or in-progression, workers received $3,000; veteran workers received $4,000.

Fiat Chrysler-UAW workers are expected to get retroactive pay to make up the difference in wages from the time the former contract was extended until approval of the new contract — a period running from Sept. 15 through Oct. 25. Checks are expected Dec. 4.

  • GM’s 52,700 U.S. hourly employees will receive lump-sum ratification payments of $8,000 for most hourly workers, and $2,000 for temporary workers. Those payments will come in Dec. 4 paychecks. The payout could total more than $420 million nationally, with more than $150 million going to GM’s Michigan workers.

Retroactive pay for GM hourly employees for the period of Sept. 15 through Nov. 23 is expected to be paid in lump sums in the second or third pay period of 2016. A $500 annual quality bonus payment will be made Dec. 11.

GM retirees, about 240,000 in all, will receive $500 checks that will be printed and mailed beginning Dec. 15.

  • Ford workers will receive $8,500 ratification bonuses Dec. 4, followed by $1,500 advances in profit sharing on Dec. 11 and $250 annual competitive bonuses on Dec. 13. Workers will receive retroactive pay for the period from Sept. 15 through Nov. 23; those checks will be available by Dec. 20.

Workers at all three of the automakers will have to wait until February or March to receive profit-sharing bonuses based on how the each company’s North American operations performed in 2015.

Over the four years of the former contract, most Fiat Chrysler workers received about $16,500 in bonuses and profit sharing before taxes. Over the same four years, Ford hourly employees received up to $43,200 in bonuses and profit sharing before taxes, and GM workers received $39,250 pre-tax.

Angeline Eimers, an hourly worker at GM’s Pontiac’s Customer Care & Aftersales plant, said the payments over the next few weeks will come at a perfect time around the holidays. However, she isn’t planning a big shopping spree.

“I have nothing big planned for my bonus,” said Eimers, 25. “I’m just going to put it in the bank for now.”

William Sellers, a 56-year-old worker at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant, plans to use the money to help his two children pay their college tuition.

“It isn’t about buying a new Harley or a boat; it’s about taking care of your family,” he said. “Years ago, when the economy was robust, I think you could go out and buy a new car for five or six grand. Now, it’s more about building a foundation and saving.”

Susan Hiltz, a spokeswoman for AAA Michigan, said the bonus payments will help people to book vacations as the holidays and winter approach.

“It stands to reason we’ll see more people visiting our travel offices and booking trips,” she said.

For workers with their sights on new cars or trucks, retirees under the UAW-Fiat Chrysler deal receive $1,000 vouchers; GM retirees receive $500; and Ford retirees receive $250 during each year of the contract.

At least one Metro Detroit auto dealer is offering a special deal for UAW-Fiat Chrysler workers: Parkway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will match up to $1,750 on a down payment for UAW members and their families. The deal includes $750 from the company and $1,000 from the Clinton Township dealer.

“This is an unprecedented down-payment match,” said Mike Riley, Parkway general manager. “It keeps gaining momentum. We’re seeing more and more deals.”

Riley said a “few dozen” people have taken advantage of the deal, which started around the time workers were awarded their bonuses. It is expected to continue until the end of the year. Riley said the dealership could offer it again for union profit-sharing or other bonuses.

“It seems to be working,” he said. “So if it helps them and helps us, we will be doing it again.”

Find the full article from The Detroit News.

Income inequality makes the rich more Scrooge-like

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kathleen Lantto |

elstudlo / flickr

From the Los Angeles Times:

By: Melissa Healy

As the annual "season of giving" dawns, a new study finds that stark income inequity -- a dramatically rising trend in the United States -- makes the "haves" less generous toward others.

Higher-income people were less inclined to be generous both when they came from states where income inequality is high and when they were made to believe that there was a sharp divide between rich and poor, a new study found. And they were less charitable in both cases than were low-income people.

Since the 1980s -- the end of a 30-year period during which the middle class flourished in the United States -- wealth has grown increasingly concentrated at the top of the economic ladder, while low-income Americans have commanded a smaller and smaller share of the nation's wealth.

In 2013, the top 0.1% of households received approximately 10% of the pretax income, versus approximately 3%-4% between 1951 and 1981. The Congressional Budget Office reckoned that between 1979 and 2007, households controlling the top 1% of the nation's wealth increased their incomes 275%, while the incomes of those in the economy's lowest tier picked up a mere 18%.

A study published in the PNAS on Monday compared the giving patterns of rich and poor two ways. Using results from a nationally representative survey that included a donation opportunity at the end, researchers looked at how patterns of giving corresponded to wealth distribution in donors' home states.

Of the 1,498 people who participated in that survey, donation by those with household incomes above $125,000 was more prevalent among those who lived in states in which income inequality was low. Among wealthier survey-takers from states with higher income inequality, fewer took the opportunity to donate.

The authors also conducted an experiment in which 704 people were presented with simulated information portraying their home states as having either high or low income inequality, and then given the opportunity to bestow raffle tickets on another participant.

When they were prompted to believe they lived in a state with high income inequality, those with household incomes above $125,000 were less generous than when they believed incomes in their state were more equitably distributed.

The authors found no such difference in donor behavior among people whose household income was below $15,000.

The new findings may actually somewhat improve the view of wealthy Americans among social science researchers. A wide range of recent studies had suggested that wealthy Americans are, across the board, less generous than less wealthy Americans. This study suggests that that stinginess is, at least, more prominent where the rich are richer and the poor are poorer.

The researchers, led by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, surmised that wealthy people embedded in a milieu where rich and poor live in starkly different circumstances may feel more entitled to their moneyed status, or more threatened by the prospective loss of privilege that would come if resources more evenly distributed. They may feel that the system whereby wealth is apportioned is fairer because they so rarely come into contact with the poor.

And the authors of the study do not shrink from its obvious implications: progressive taxation policies and social services that lift up the poor might not only lift their boats. They might also make the rich more generous about pitching in a penny or two to do so.

 Find the full article from the Los Angeles Times.