Month: December 2015

Given Rise in Productivity, Minimum Wage Should be $18

productivity & min wage

One way to raise Americans’ wages is to increase the minimum wage. Today, a range of policy proposals to raise minimum wages at the federal, state, and local levels have proliferated. Many of them seem extraordinarily ambitious, but this is primarily because the economy has grown so unbalanced in recent decades. Had wage growth been equitable and strong in recent decades, today’s minimum wage would be far higher. For example, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains after 1968, as it did from its enactment in 1938 to 1968, it would stand at $18.42 instead of $7.25. And had the minimum wage maintained its peak inflation-adjusted value (reached in 1968), it would be $9.54. But unfortunately, wage growth hasn’t been distributed equitably in recent decades. This is because a multitude of policy decisions have sapped low- and moderate-wage workers’ power to bargain with their employers for higher pay. Restoring bargaining power to American workers will similarly require a range of policies. A good place to start is raising the federal minimum wage. In fact, increasing it to $12 by 2020 would boost wages for over 35 million workers—one-quarter of the American workforce.

A Haskell Wexler Share – Union Scene from Matewan

Haskell Wexler, February 6 1922 – December 27, 2015

In over half a century of extraordinary work in film, not to mention more than a little bit of raising hell, his work as Director of Photography on John Sayles’ masterpiece on union efforts to organize the West Virginia coal mines, Matewan, was among his very best.

Wexler posted this scene from Matewan to his YouTube account on July 9, 2012 with the following commentary:

“I just left the studio where John Sayles and I recorded a commentary for MATEWAN. In this scene, Chris Cooper, the organizer, talks union. I know we don’t mine coal, but you’ll hear plenty of ideas close to what a real union should be.”

Haskell Wexler Dead at 93: Legendary Cinematographer, Activist Captured the Struggles of Our Times