Yesterday, fast food restaurant workers and their supporters went on strike around the country, including here in Rhode Island. Their demand: $15 an hour instead of the minimum wage (which will be $8 in January here in RI).
Organized labor has been beset in recent years with declining membership in the private sector and a corresponding drop in clout at the Rhode Island Statehouse. Unions have taken their lumps recently, but there were signs of a rebound during the recently adjourned General Assembly session.
Labor did not get nearly everything it wanted; building trades union leaders are unhappy that lawmakers did not approve requiring construction firms bidding on state projects worth $1 million or more to have a union apprenticeship program.
The attorney for the former head of an agency that allegedly had disabled people working for less than minimum wage maintains his client did nothing wrong.
John Cicilline says he has received paperwork from the U.S. Justice Department relating to John Capobianco, Sr. and his nonprofit company Training Through Placement, but he said yesterday he had not yet had time to review it.
The Rhode Island Senate has approved legislation that hikes the state’s minimum wage to $8 an hour.
When Rhode Island’s minimum wage jumped from to $7.40 to $7.75 on January 1st, it was the first raise the state had given minimum wage workers in five years. Now lawmakers are looking at bumping it up again to $8 an hour.
That would match Massachusetts’ minimum wage but come under Vermont’s at $8.60 an hour.
Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed is supporting a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage over the next three years.
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25. The so-called “Federal Wage Act” would increase that wage by 95 cents annually until it reaches $10.10 by 2015.
However the buying power of minimum wage has decreased significantly, and the new boost may not be enough in Rhode Island, says Kate Brewster, the executive director of The Economic Progress Institute.
Legislative committees are set Tuesday to begin reviewing Governor Lincoln Chafee’s proposed budget for the fiscal year starting in July. This is one of many meetings where lawmakers will hash over the budget.