NELP on the Opinion Page:
Fair Labor Standards Act at 75 & More

NELP Executive Director Christine Owens joined Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris, low-wage workers and allies to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the FLSA.

As FLSA Turns 75, Wage Crisis Persists

Last week, the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act -- the landmark legislation that created a federal minimum wage, the right to overtime pay, and a 44-hour work week (later amended to 40 hours). 

To honor the occasion, NELP joined worker allies and low-wage workers from around the country at a White House event that featured a panel of workers discussing the minimum wage with Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris and administration officials, followed by remarks from Vice President Joe Biden.  The day ended with a Senate committee hearing on the minimum wage.

But, as the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and NELP's Christine Owens note in this op-ed in Reuters, the federal minimum wage hasn't kept up with the times.  Its real value has fallen far behind the rising cost of living, and today, America's workers are facing a crisis of low wages. 

"As we look back over the years since the Fair Labor Standards Act passed, and compare the wage and job quality erosion for lower income workers to the good fortune of the wealthiest -- we should be ashamed." 

Read the Trumka/Owens op-ed, "America's Wage Crisis."


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Home Care Workers Still Waiting for FLSA's Wage and Hour Protections

The Fair Labor Standards Act's 75th anniversary also highlighted the untenable situation facing our nation's 2.5 million home care workers.  Despite occupying demanding jobs in one of the fastest-growing occupations, home care workers continue to be excluded from our nation's most basic minimum wage and overtime protections. 

In an op-ed in The Huffington Post, NELP's Sarah Leberstein and Cathy Ruckelshaus ask:  "What does it mean to be shut out of such basic guarantees?  [It] means being devalued and disrespected.  It means working off the clock, sometimes having to wake up throughout the night to care for a client, without pay.  It means not getting paid overtime despite workweeks of 80 hours or more.  All too often, it means working in poverty:  home care workers' average hourly wages are low enough to qualify them for public assistance in 34 states." 

Read the op-ed, "After 75 Years, Minimum Wage Protections Still Elude Home Care Workers." 


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Making Immigration Reform Work for Low-Wage Workers and Our Economy 

With its passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill last week, the U.S. Senate took an historic step towards making the dreams of millions of immigrants a reality and building a stronger economy in the process.  The bill offers our nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, although the road is a long and arduous one. 

In this op-ed in The Huffington Post, NELP's Annette Bernhardt and Haeyoung Yoon explain what it's going to take to ensure that immigration reform realizes its potential to improve the wages and lives of America's low-wage workers.  

"From the standpoint of economic impact, it is vital that immigration reform achieve three goals:  provide a road to citizenship for those who are currently undocumented; establish robust worker protections in the workplace; and create a path to permanent status for future immigrants.  Otherwise, we will simply recreate and exacerbate the failures of our current system, consigning millions to an underground life of exploitation, wage theft, workplace injuries, and retaliation." 

Read the op-ed, "Will Immigration Reform Work for the U.S. Economy."


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Cutting Wages Won't Create Teen Jobs 

Finally, in a recent op-ed in The Hill's Congress Blog, NELP's Jack Temple responds to the tired claims of minimum wage opponents that the wage floor is to blame for the lack of summer job opportunities for teens. 

"Lower wages will not reverse any of [the] factors that contribute to high teen unemployment.  And given that adults over the age of twenty make up more than 90 percent of all low-paid workers who would benefit from raising the minimum wage in the first place, letting the minimum wage lose value year after year would simply undermine the economic security of workers of all ages, many of whom are trying to support families and raise children on poverty-level wages."

Read the op-ed, "Cutting Wages Won't Create Jobs."


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