The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 25, 2019

News Briefs

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

Minimum wages hiked for 5.2 million workers

On Jan. 1, 2019, 19 states, including Michigan, raised their minimum wages, lifting pay for 5.2 million workers around the country.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the increases ranged from a $0.05 inflation adjustment in Alaska to a $2.00 per hour increase in New York City. The EPI said the collective raises "will give affected workers approximately $5.3 billion in increased wages over the course of 2019. Affected workers who work year-round will see their annual pay go up between $90 and $1,300, on average, depending on the size of the minimum wage change in their state."

The minimum wage in Michigan rose from $9.25 to $9.45 on Jan. 1. A ballot initiative, if passed by the state's voters last November, would have hiked the state's minimum wage to $10 per hour this year and $12 by 2022, but Republican lawmakers and former Gov. Rick Snyder intercepted the bill by passing it themselves before it hit the ballot, and then adopted a new law before the end of the year that moves the minimum wage hike out by eight years: the wage won't increase to $12.05 per hour until 2030.

Federal workers sue to get their wages

WASHINGTON (PAI) – The Air Traffic Controllers union (NATCA) along with five named individual workers who aren’t getting paid due to the partial federal government shutdown, told a federal judge on Jan. 15 that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution by not paying them for work they’ve done.

And at a noon hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, they also asked federal judge Christopher Cooper to issue an immediate restraining order telling President Trump to open the government’s doors, put the employees back to work after the 24-days-and-counting lockout/shutdown, and pay them, too. 

They lost on the immediate order, Cooper ruled. But the judge scheduled a hearing on the underlying constitutional issue, assuming the courts are open then. “Although we are disappointed with the judge’s ruling denying NATCA’s motion for a temporary restraining order, we are encouraged that he acknowledged the ongoing hardships our members are facing because of the shutdown,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. 

“In recognition that time is of the essence, the judge ordered expedited briefing on NATCA’s motion for a preliminary injunction. We will continue to oppose the injustice of our members working while being deprived of their earned wages and look forward to making our argument on Jan. 31.”

The shutdown is the result of a dispute between Trump and Congressional Democrats over $5.7 billion in border wall spending. It has resulted in the layoff of some 800,000 workers and closed one-fourth to one-third of the federal government – including the Departments of State, Treasury, Interior, Justice, Commerce, Transportation and Housing, plus the EPA and other agencies – permanently since midnight on Dec. 21. They lack money to operate.