USA

Minimum wage rises some places, but it's still the COVID-19 economy, this week in the war on workers

Unemployment remains sky-high (no matter what Donald Trump tries to tell you), and four million workers have had their pay or hours cut due to the pandemic. For people who are still on the job, there’s some good news in some cities and states in the form of minimum wage increases that went into effect on July 1.

In Illinois, the minimum wage went from $9.25 an hour to $10. In Oregon, it went from $11.25 to $12. In Nevada, workers with health insurance will have an $8 minimum wage and workers without health coverage will get $9, up from $8.25. The minimum wage in Portland, Oregon, went from $12.50 to $13.25. Chicago rose from $13 to $14. More than a dozen other cities—most of them in California—and three counties had increases, too. The problem is that many workers, even those who are still employed, aren't getting the hours they need to get by. 

 Fight over COVID-19 workplace rules moves to states. That’s necessary because The Trump administration has left workplace safety up to your boss..

 Shirin Ghaffary and Jason Del Rey report for Recode on the real cost of Amazon:

But internally, employees told Recode that Amazon has responded to workers’ complaints by cracking down on dissenters. The company has fired at least six employees who were involved in recent worker protests or who spoke out about working conditions at Amazon, including several who were visible leaders within the company on worker issues. Sources told Recode the company has also reprimanded at least six other employees during the same period who were involved in recent protests.

(Amazon claims it’s coincidental, not retaliatory, that it keeps firing and reprimanding workers involved in protests.)

 That article focuses on Amazon’s warehouses, but there’s more to the story. Amazon delivery drivers are overwhelmed and overworked by COVID-19 surge, Lauren Kaori Gurley reports for Vice.

 How North Carolina transformed itself into the worst state to be unemployed, Ava Kofman reports for ProPublica:

At the end of 2019 — when the economy was humming and pandemics were the stuff of horror fiction — fewer than 1 in 10 jobless people in North Carolina received unemployment benefits. That’s the lowest rate in the country and well below the average of 26%.

The maximum number of weeks someone in the state can draw benefits is currently 12, compared with the national standard of 26 weeks. And those who receive benefits get less money than they used to: Between 2008 and 2019, the percentage of a worker’s wages replaced has fallen from 53% to 38%. North Carolina also ranks as the worst state for getting benefits to workers in a timely manner.

 Actors' Equity rejects Disney World coronavirus safety plan for performers.

 Union busting in Mexico under the new NAFTA.

 We need an essential workers bill of rights to make sure working people have the protections they need, writes National Domestic Workers Alliance executive director Ai-Jen Poo.

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