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IWJ in the News

Impact of Supreme Court's ruling on unions could be felt nationwide

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Advocates for women's rights weren't the only ones dealt a blow Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court; so, too, was an Illinois health care union seeking dues from the nonmembers they represent. Lost in the Hobby Lobby hyperbole: The nation's highest court in a 5-4 ruling reversed a decision upheld by a federal appeals court that allowed the union to require "fair share" fees from public in-home care workers who had not joined its ranks but whom it represented in collective bargaining.

The eight petitioners who brought the Harris v. Quinn case -- personal assistants from Illinois who provided home care services to Medicaid recipients -- argued their First Amendment rights were violated by a state law requiring union fees from those uninterested in joining.

"They're important sectors in the society, they're growing sectors. And they're sectors that are largely filled by low-wage women and people of color," Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, told NCR. Though she said she didn't believe the court overtly sought to discriminate against those groups, Bobo viewed its decision as continuing previous labor law practices that exempted minority groups from the fullest protections.

View the full story from the National Catholic Reporter

Faith leaders urge support of federal minimum wage legislation

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WASHINGTON -- A group of religious leaders stressed the moral obligation to raise the federal minimum wage in an April 29 letter to Congress, describing increased wages as "indispensable to ensuring that no worker will suffer the indignity of poverty." The letter was released the day before the Senate was to vote on increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

"We respect the dignity of our neighbors who toil under the yoke of today's unjust minimum wage, and we call on our elected leaders to ease their burden by making the minimum wage a family wage," said the letter, organized by public policy groups Interfaith Worker Justice and Faith in Public Life and signed by about 5,000 people including more than 30 prominent religious leaders known for their work on social issues.

View the full story from the Catholic Sentinel.

Interfaith Worker Justice Conference June 22-24
Fast-food workers raise bar on wage campaign

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CHICAGO — On May 15, fast-food workers took their campaign for $15 hourly wage, an end to wage theft and the right to form a union to the next level by calling a global strike in more than two dozen countries on six continents. Workers in more than 100 cities in the United States walked off the job in protest of oppressive wages and working conditions. This is the biggest day of action fast food workers have planned to date.

At Interfaith Worker Justice, we're excited to welcome fast-food worker leaders to our National Conference June 22-24. Worker leaders from the campaign will share their stories of struggle and strength and together we'll exchange ideas about how to get involved in your community to transform the way we think about workers.

Book Review: How and Why the US is Economically ‘Divided’

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The collection of essays called “Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality” covers its important topic from a variety of viewpoints. While a valuable book, it’s also a bit of a hit-or-miss affair because editor David Cay Johnston selected articles that emphasize facts and data whether or not there was any entertainment value in the writing.

Say It Loud but Say it Better

It is not clear what a reviewer should make of some of the writing in this book. Take Kim Bobo’s essay, “Wage Theft,” as an example. The 15-page piece contains a great many excellent points, including one of the most convincing and intelligent arguments in favor of unions I have ever seen. Hers is an article with information that should be a prerequisite for anyone running for elective office. Unfortunately, the paper sometimes seems like it has been passably translated from a none-too-advanced language. The facts and the humanity are on Bobo’s side but she needs to find a collaborator who loves English and knows how to use it.

View the full story from Publishers Newswire

Wage Theft in America: How the Rich get Richer While the Poor Stay Poor

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WASHINGTON (VR) – Employers are stealing billions of dollars from their employees by wage theft, according to Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, and author of Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans are not Getting Paid-and What We Can Do About It.

Bobo said wage theft manifests itself in several ways: unpaid overtime, off the clock work, loss of tips and payroll fraud, to name a few.

Employers pressure low wage workers to work before and after they clock in. Or in restaurants, employers don't pay their workers the tips they've earned, especially if the tip is left on the credit card. The Economic Policy Foundation estimates workers are deprived of up to $19 billion in unpaid overtime.

View the full story from Voice of Russia.

Low Wage Fast Food Workers Protests Rock US

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WASHINGTON (VR)— Thursday saw the latest wave of protests in an 18 month-old campaign to improve the lamentable conditions obtaining for low-wage workers in the US. Demonstrators gathered in more than 100 cities to agitate for fair wages, enforcement of existing labor laws, and the right to form a union without retaliation from employers...

Meanwhile, the defunding of departments of labor at all levels of government has diluted oversight and enforcement of existing labor laws, and allowed employers to pursue so-called wage theft on a colossal scale. Founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice Kim Bobo estimated in Wage Theft in America (2011) that anywhere from $100-200 billion of earned wages never reaches lower wage workers each year.

View the full story from Voice of Russia.

Pay violations rampant in low-wage industries despite enforcement efforts

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For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law.

“If you steal from your employer, you’re going to be hauled out of the workplace in handcuffs,” said Kim Bobo, a Chicago workers rights advocate and author. “But if your employer steals from you, you’ll be lucky to get your money back.

View the full story from Tuscan Sentinel

Washington Notebook: Faith leaders team up with Booker on minimum wage

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WASHINGTON— Faith leaders pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage are leaning on Sen. Cory Booker to help them make the case.

The New Jersey Democrat cited moral reasons for an increase when he joined U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and leaders from Catholic Charities USA, the Progressive National Baptist Convention and Interfaith Worker Justice in a Tuesday conference call with reporters.

The conference call took place the day before legislation to raise the minimum wage failed in a key procedural vote in the Senate.

View the full story from the Asbury Park Press.

A Faithful Path to Worker Justice

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“Who is raising our children?” asked Melody Swett at a press conference in early March. Melody is a hotel worker in Seattle and a working mother.  She is also an active leader in the Seattle community, advocating for better workplace standards and a minimum wage that actually affords working parents like herself the means to raise a family with dignity and above the poverty line.

This past International Women’s Day, Melody joined local clergy and community leaders in celebrating the contributions of women workers and honoring their place in the workforce by calling for a $15 dollar minimum wage.

Mary’s Pence shares the story of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ). In celebration of May Day, or International Worker’s Day, we highlight an organizational ally in the fight for worker justice. We often share successes, stories, and strategies with IWJ as we progress towards our shared vision of justice for workers and women. We will be sharing more about how to fight wage theft in your communities in our upcoming Spring Newsletter.

View the full story from Mary's Pence.

Worker's rights advocate visits SUNY Broome

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Dickinson, NY—Kim Bobo, a worker's rights advocate from Chicago, talks about a federal minimum wage increase and wage theft to students at SUNY Broome.

The event comes one day after the U.S. Senate voted down a bill which would have extended the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Bobo said high profits for the wealthy and below-average pay for regular workers is hurting the middle class.

"If you work, you should be paid, and you should be paid a living wage," Bobo said. "And so it's so important we raise the minimum wage at the federal level."

View the full story from WBNG Binghamton.