This week: Washington, Idaho, Amazon, Spokane, Finland, North Carolina, elephants, manatees, and a Great White Shark.
Pass this law and Idaho will destroy everything that is decent
Grocery store worker and UFCW 21 member Ariana Davis filed a statewide initiative which would raise the minimum wage to $13.50/hour over 4 years and ensure workers have access to paid sick & safe time. The initiative was welcomed with a wave of support from community groups, unions, business owners interested in higher consumer demand, and people who care about public health; it also of course prompted a wave of right-wing interests to evoke the legendary Menace of Idaho.
The threat of course is entirely mythological — businesses simply are not and will not flee from Washington to Idaho over higher wages, because they have other concerns besides labor costs alone. (Like, for example, the fact that Washington State has been ranked as the best economy in the nation.) That’s why this McDonald’s was entirely rebuilt on the Washington side of the Idaho border when simply going across the street would save a couple bucks an hour on minimum wage. It’s why studies find high wages and high job growth seem to go together. And it’s why sky-is-falling predictions about minimum wage increases have repeatedly proven false for more than 100 years.
And as Seattle heads to $15, the city is seeing the opposite of jobs fleeing across the border: competition for food service workers is so fierce that a bagel shop is now advertising a $250 incentive for new hires.
You gotta be a Prime member to get a deal like that
Amazon has been cited by Federal authorities for failing to report at least 26 workplace injuries in a single New Jersey warehouse. Workers there faced increased risks due to a lack of protective equipment, 10 hours of consecutive standing, mandatory overtime, and other factors.
The penalty for these violations: $7,000. We didn’t drop a “,000” there — the fine was in fact in the high 4 figures.
Spokane evicts Mr. Yuck
The day before the Spokane City Council voted 6-1 to make Spokane the latest city to pass a paid sick & safe time law, the Spokesman-Review ran a curious op-ed from the Washington Policy Center. The WPC is a business minded group with their heads buried so far in the past they think that opinion pieces in the daily paper the day before a vote are an effective way to move public opinion.
But their policy argument was even goofier than their political strategy: sick & safe time laws, they claimed, cost about 25¢ per hour.
And that’s too much.
Not sure an abundance of attractiveness was the biggest problem facing Finland anyway
Aiming to “erase possible attractiveness factors”, Finland announced it will now require asylum seekers to work for free. Besides just being intentionally obnoxious, they say the work requirement will ensure that refugees fleeing war zones do not become “frustrated” by their “idleness”.
Meanwhile, the USA is taking the opposite approach to aiding those in need: instead of requiring unpaid work, states like North Carolina are now starting to require people to get paying jos or else lose their food assistance. Curiously, nobody seems to think the jobs they might find could possibly pay enough so they could afford to feed themselves.
Dangerous to who?
Job losses in the media & spectacle industry continue: Ringling Brothers circus is forcing its elephants into early retirement with only a few months notice, but offering pension benefits worth about $65,000. Options are few: washing cars is one of the only other career paths out there.
Manatees are making a comeback, and are slated to officially be upgraded from “endangered” status to merely “threatened.” Despite the good news, some remain fixated on keeping the marine mammal in its place with relentless body policing: inevitably, even when they’re being celebrated they’re described as “tubby” and their weight and diet are considered matters of public concern.
And a great white shark died after just three days of incarceration in “the Sea of dangerous sharks” at a Japanese aquarium. The shark simply refused to eat while in custody, a path of resistance also taken by IRA leaders imprisoned by British authorities and a different Great White taken by the Monterey Bay Aquarium a few decades ago, as well as several noncombatants currently at Guantanamo.