House Republicans Introduce New Minimum Wage Legislation
House of Representative Republicans on Thursday introduced their own version of legislation increasing the federal minimum wage. The “Minimum Wage Competitiveness Act of 2006,” introduced by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and 13 other Republicans, would raise the minimum wage from the current rate of $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour one year and 60 days after the enactment of the bill. Minimum wage legislation has previously been introduced by House Democrats, and in the Senate.
The bill also includes a minimum wage increase for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a territory of the US. The minimum wage of the Mariana Islands is only $3.15 an hour. Under the proposed legislation, the Marianas would receive an increase of 50 cents per hour every six months, until the minimum wage was equal to that of the US, which would take approximately four years.
The Mariana Islands are subject to US laws, but are currently exempt from US minimum wage requirements and most provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Republicans’ minimum wage bill would apply the Fair Labor Standards of 1938 to the CNMI, in hopes of improving dire working conditions. Some 30,000 temporary “guestworkers” — predominately women — from China, the Philippines, and Thailand work in the Northern Mariana Islands, but are reduced to little more than indentured servants due to the high recruitment fees and the low minimum wage.
Since 1995 at least 29 different bills regarding labor and immigration issues in the Northern Mariana Islands have been introduced. Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked on behalf of the Marianas government and its garment industry to ensure that Congress would not pass laws to improve wages and working conditions for the Marianas workers. Tom DeLay, one of Abramoff’s staunch Congressional allies, helped in keeping any bills regarding the Marianas from reaching the House floor, according to Rep. Miller, and even called the Marianas “a Petri dish of ‘capitalism’.”
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .