Additionally, a survey finds wage theft is rampant among fast-food workers and the Biden administration plans to foot the internet bill for some Americans.
House of Representatives votes to give staff the right to unionize
House of Representatives voted to protect workers if they seek to unionize, The American Prospect reports.
The Congressional Workers Union (CWU), a coalition of staff members from all political backgrounds, officially announcement their intention to unionize in February, after a survey by the Congressional Progressive Staff Association (CPSA) found that 91% of employees surveyed wanted greater protection to give them a voice at work because they were underpaid and overworked
Amid increased pressure from the union, President Nancy Pelosi vowed in a press release last week to raise the annual minimum wage per employee to $45,000 by September 1, for which she got the CPSA’s assessment. The president also increased the maximum salary to $203,700 to match the Senate increase.
Congressional staffers won the right to unionize under the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995, but according to the New York Times, lawmakers have failed to provide workers with the legal protections necessary to do so freely.
“For 26 years, Congress had the opportunity to pass this resolution but failed to act, until our collective demands were too strong for them to ignore,” the CWU said in a statement. communicated. online declaration. “Tonight is a reminder of the power of collective action and what the freedom to form a union really means – democracy not only in our elections, but also in our workplaces.”
Wage theft is rampant among California fast food workers, survey finds
A survey by the Fight for $15 campaign, funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), found that wage theft is common among California’s lowest-paid fast food workers, KQED reports.
Of the 400 people surveyed, 85% said they had experienced at least one labor law violation, including insufficient overtime pay or zero compensation for working outside of the clock.
The survey authors attribute this kind of mistreatment to the fact that most fast-food chains operate on a franchise model, which means companies are protected from liability for wage theft or other violations.
California could be the first state to change that thanks to the FAST Recovery Act, a new bill that would make companies liable for any labor law violations.
But while this legislation hangs in the air, workers remain vulnerable.
This is the case of Maria Bernal, a Jack in the Box worker, who was only paid for two-thirds of the hours worked. “It made me very angry because I needed that money to pay for my expenses,” Bernal told KQED. When Bernal, a single mother of three, raised concerns with her store manager, she was threatened with reduced working hours.
Bernal was able to file a lawsuit to investigate the $86,200 salary theft she suffered. But due to understaffing in the labor commissioner’s office, the hearing can take years to be heard. And even at the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) faces similar challenges with roughly a thousand workers overseeing more than 7.3 million businesses, as Next City previously reported.
For now, the SEIU is working to best support the FAST Recovery Act, which would also create a council that would give workers a bigger voice.
The bill passed the National Assembly and is now awaiting another vote in the Senate.
Biden administration to provide financial aid for internet costs
Biden administration will work with internet service providers to help cover internet costs for low-income Americans, NPR reports.
The initiative, dubbed the Affordable Connectivity Program, will give 48 million Americans access to internet packages of at least 100 megabits per second of speed for up to $30.
Twenty internet service providers – including companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – have committed to the plan. “It’s time for every American to experience the social, economic, health, employment and educational benefits of universal Internet-scale access,” said John Stankey, CEO of ‘AT&T.
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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for the summer of 2021. Burga is completing her degree in political science and journalism at Rutgers University, intending to graduate in May 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.