The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 passed the United States Senate yesterday on a vote of 94-3 after nine days of debate. The Senate bill and the House version that passed earlier this month, will raise the minimum wage from $5.15-an-hour to $7.25 by 2009. The Senate's version of the bill, however, includes $8.3 billion in tax breaks that were not included in the House's version. The bill will next be sent to a conference committee for Representatives and Senators to agree upon a final version. Republicans, including President Bush, have signaled that they will not support the bill unless the tax exemptions are included.
The act also provides that the Fair Labor Standards Act apply to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a US territory that has been exempt from US labor and immigration laws. Ms. magazine brought the plight of the predominately female, low-wage work-force in the CNMI to the attention of readers across the nation in an investigative report, "Paradise Lost."
Echoing the opinion of many Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said of the bill "It should not be loaded up, it should not be complicated... The notion that we are still using this as a bargaining chip, dickering for various other tax breaks I think makes no sense. It's time to get this done."
5/20/2013 Afghan Violence Against Women Law Blocked in Parliament - On Saturday, the Speaker of the Lower House of Afghan Parliament delayed a vote on the Elimination of Violence against Women law after two hours of vociferous debate between conservative religious and more liberal members of Parliament. . . .
5/20/2013 Walmart, American Retailers Refuse to Join Bangladesh Accord - Walmart, along with 13 other major North American companies, refused to sign a legally binding agreement to improve working conditions for overseas factory workers that manufacture their clothes after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing an estimated 1300 workers, the New York Times reports.
The agreement requires retailers pay $500,000 to improve worker safety measures over a five year period. . . .