February 27, 2014

By Freddie Allen

NNPA Washington Correspondent


WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 would lift nearly 1 million low-wage workers out of poverty, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Although a majority of low-wage workers are White, people of color would be disproportionately affected by an increase in the minimum wage. Blacks work in low-wage jobs at higher rates than Whites, according to federal statistics. Blacks account for 11 percent of the workforce, but 16 percent of workers that would see their wages increase.

“When you look at the CBO report, part of what stands out is that the CBO confirms that many millions of workers with low or modest incomes would get significant income gains,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Even after factoring in the CBO’s estimates on the employment effects, there are still very substantial income gains for the bottom and the middle of the population and these income gains are achieved for virtually no budgetary cost.”

Even though the CBO predicted that 500,000 low-wage workers might lose their jobs, 16.5 million workers would directly benefit from seeing an increase in the minimum wage. Economists estimate that another 8 to 10 million workers would see their wages increase as a result of a “spillover effect.”

Families living below the poverty line will get a $5 billion bump in their income, about 20 percent of the estimated $31 billion. Roughly a third would go to families making three times above the poverty line.

According to the Census Bureau, more than 27 percent of Blacks live in poverty compared to less than 10 percent of Whites. Nearly 40 percent of Black children live in poverty.

According to the CBO report, raising the minimum wage would affect low-wage workers in two ways.

“Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and

some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold,” stated the report.

The CBO report continued: “But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.”

Although the CBO report suggested that up to a million jobs could be lost, if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 per hour, many economists agree that the effect of wage increase would be minimal.

“In a review of over 60 studies that look for statistical linkages between minimum-wage increases and job losses, economist John Schmitt reports that the most accurately measured results cluster around zero: some studies find that raising the minimum wage has a small negative effect on employment, a smaller number find that it has a small positive effect, and most find no significant effect,” stated a report by the Center for Budget and Public Priorities.

In January, the Economic Policy Institute advocated for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 in a letter to President Obama and Congress. More than 600 economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners signed the letter, according to EPI.

Keeping his promise to use his pen or phone in a year of action to help American families, last week President Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage of federal contract workers.

In a policy brief detailing President Obama’s executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, White House officials cited a study that showed when Maryland passed a similar law for state contract employees, competition between companies increased, driving a higher quality of service.

Contrary to common stereotypes most low-income workers are not teenagers working for extra pocket change for clothes and fast food on the weekends.

According to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, titled “Low-wage Workers Are Older and Better Educated than Ever,” the average age of low-workers is about 35 and only about 12 percent were teenagers in 2011. A majority (60 percent) of low-wage workers are 25-64 years old. More than 30 percent of low-wage workers have some college education and roughly 10 percent have a four-year college degree.

The CBO also found that employment prospects for high school dropouts and Blacks in their 20s would be largely unaffected by changes in the minimum wage.

Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard University, said that raising the minimum wage would have significant benefits for low-skill workers, especially Africa Americans.

“Our best estimates suggest essentially no impact on employment and a large improvement in wages for disadvantaged workers,” said Katz.

Katz added: “Overall, it’s a substantial win for minority workers.”

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February 20, 2014

Rev. Jesse Jackson & RainbowPUSH Close The Wall Street Project Economic Summit with an Even Stronger Commitment & Fight for Equality and Financial Parity Despite the Nor’easter & Storm Pax Hit on NYC: The Struggle Continues

LAWT News Service


The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund saw a tremendous turnout of speakers, attendees, political leaders, policy makers and entertainers despite the nor’easter at the 17th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit. The three-day summit focused on the lock out of minorities on corporate boards, financial transactions, investment opportunities in Africa, the business of hip hop and minority ownership. This year’s summit, “50 Years After the Civil Rights Act: The Unfinished Agenda for Economic Justice...” puts equality at the forefront said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president, Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

“We are fighting the right fight. We are closing the gap between the top and bottom. When justice prevails, everyone wins.”

The Labor, Ministers and Community Leaders Breakfast moderated by Dr. Kris F. Erskine, pastor, Bethany Baptist Church, New York, launched the summit into high gear by setting the framework for the day. Attendees sat on the edge of their seats as Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman promised to the attendees and NY that his commitment was that no person in NY would lose their home because they didn’t have representation. It wasn’t just about home foreclosures for the attorney general but he added,

“I want kids to live with equal justice under the law … to have due justice and equal justice under the law.” Although it was early and many trudged through snow, all attendees said their commitment to fighting for financial equality was a must. Featured speaker Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church of New York delivered a passion felt message on the importance of the continued connection and support between the labor, ministry and community leader’s network. “Economic justice for God sales,” Rev. Dr. Forbes quoted Mathew 6:25 “do not worry about your life” as there will be economic justice for all. Rev. Dr. Forbes added that economic justice is the key to retaining the integral relationships between corporations, labor, the church and community action groups. The Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni Ensemble lent their voices as the session closed.

Included in the summit was an African delegation attending and convening at the day’s third session “Focus on Africa: Investment Opportunities in Africa, and Agriculture” which added additional insight into investment opportunities globally. Senator Rodney Ellis, (Texas) led a conversation with the panelists including, Amy Bell, executive director and head of Principal Investment at J.P. Morgan Social Finance, who stated, “Bringing together people who represent the public and private sector is really important.” Elaborating on gender equality, Bell added, “Good governance is important; we need to think about both men and woman.”

Rev. Jackson echoed the Africa sentiments by continuing the conversation inviting Hon. Michael Mabuyakhulu, minister of Economic Development, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa on stage for welcoming remarks at The Civil Right Act: 50th Anniversary Luncheon.”

Mabuyakhulu assured luncheon attendees Africa is open for business and is ready to invest; saying, “If you want to get the best investment there is no better place than Africa. Africa is ready to do business with you [USA]. The African of today is different than the Africa of yesterday.”  Switching gears at the luncheon, famed tap dancer Jared Grimes performed a small set for the crowd, Rev. Jackson enthusiastically joined in for a few seconds of the routine. As the entertainment concluded, the luncheon continued as Rev. Jackson introduced Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She took to the stage ensuring the audience her company is on top of its goal which is enforcing equal opportunity employment. “We are working to ensure that the federal government is a model employer for the nation,” stated Berrien. 

Rev. Jackson and the RainbowPUSH organization recently launched an initiative urging black America to “Become One in A Million,” by joining the RPC Million Member Campaign, visit www.millionmember.rainbowpush.org.

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February 13, 2014

LAWT News Service


Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), an advocate for the Haitian people in the U.S. Congress, introduced a bipartisan resolution to honor the 210th anniversary of Haiti’s independence (H.Res. 474) and presented a copy of the resolution to Haitian President Michel Martelly. President Martelly was in Washington, DC meeting with members of Congress and President Obama. Haiti declared its independence from France on January 1, 1804, 210 years ago, following a revolt among African slaves against their French colonial masters.

 "Haiti is the only country to have achieved its independence as the result of a successful slave rebellion," said Waters. "I am proud to introduce this resolution to congratulate the people of Haiti upon the 210th anniversary of their independence."

 Waters’ resolution was cosponsored by a bipartisan group of ten members of Congress, all of whom are either members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs or have shown a strong interest in issues affecting Haiti.  The cosponsors include Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights; Albio Sires (D-NJ), ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), senior member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Karen Bass (D-CA ), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights; Barbara Lee (D-CA); Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY); Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL); John Conyers (D-MI); and Charles B. Rangel (D-NY).

"The people of Haiti have survived slavery, repression, and natural disasters," said Waters. "They have demonstrated tremendous courage throughout their history, and they continue to work to improve their lives and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their fellow citizens."

 During Waters’ twelve terms in Congress, she has visited Haiti many times, and she has worked with her colleagues in Congress, State Department officials, Haitian political leaders, and Haitian civil society to promote effective governance, democracy, human rights, and economic and social development in Haiti.  Following the 2010 earthquake, she introduced the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act (H.R. 4573), which was passed and signed into law by the president.

 "I urge all of my colleagues to pass this resolution and join me in honoring the 210th anniversary of Haiti’s independence," she said.

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February 13, 2014

LAWT News Service


In celebration of Black History Month, Union Bank, N.A., has partnered with KCETLink to honor two  African Americans as local heroes.  The 2014 Black History Month honorees are:  Daryl L. Osby, chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and Anthony J. Tolbert, associate director of admissions and outreach at the UCLA School of Law.  Both will be recognized during a private February dinner celebration with their families and executives from KCETLink and Union Bank.

Since 1998, KCETLink and Union Bank have collaborated on the Local Heroes program and recognized nearly 180 honorees.  The program pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their community, region and the world at large.  The 2014 Black History Month honorees demonstrate a shared commitment to providing their communities with the tools to thrive in today’s changing world, said event organizers.

Throughout the year, honorees will also be identified during Women’s History Month (March); Jewish American Heritage Month (May); Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September/October). 

“We continue to celebrate diversity at Union Bank, and we are excited to pay special tribute to these two extraordinary African Americans as we launch our 2014 Local Heroes program,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community Banking.  “The honorees embody the bank’s spirit of giving back, and we are thrilled to continue our nearly 20-year partnership with KCETLink that allows us to highlight their achievements.”

“KCETLink is honored to recognize the wonderful accomplishments of these two Local Heroes in celebration of Black History month,” said KCETLink Chief Executive Officer Al Jerome.  “We are grateful to have a partner in Union Bank for supporting such a worthwhile program in our community.”

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February 13, 2014

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