Organic Consumers Association

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Progressive States Network Lists Progress on Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom

Policies emphasize that a higher wage is the best anti-poverty program and a "pro-family" policy to allow parents to work fewer hours and have more time with their families. Such policies include directly raising wage standards like the minimum wage, better enforcement of existing laws, and strengthening the ability of employees to negotiate higher standards on their own behalf through stronger labor unions. Below are a few key models worth emulating:

* Minimum Wage: The City of San Francisco has a minimum wage of $9.36 per hour for all workers in that city, the highest for a major city or state in the country, which is indexed each year to inflation. 

* Minimum Wage Enforcement:  The Arizona minimum wage initiative approved by voters in 2006 has some of the strongest enforcement provisions of any state law. See also the California's Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act to strengthen private enforcement of wage laws, the California Sweatshop Accountability Law to crackdown on exploitive subcontractors, NY Bus. Corp. Law holding large shareholders liable for wage claims, and Laws Preventing Independent Contractor Misclassification

* Living Wage Law: Maryland approved HB 430, the first state living wage law requiring all government contractors to pay their employees a decent wage, up to $11.30 an hour in areas of the state with the highest costs of living. Other states have extended traditional prevailing wage laws for public construction projects to additional public contracts, including the New Jersey Law covering building service workers and Illinois Procurement Code covering a range of service workers working on government projects. 

* Industry-Specific Wage Rates:  A number of communities have extended living wage rates to specific private industry sectors, including the Emeryville CA Large Hotel Minimum Wage Law and the proposed Chicago Large Retail Living Wage Law

* Strengthening Labor Unions: Oregon in 2007 approved a package of labor reforms, including HB 2891 to allow unionization when a majority of government workers sign cards requesting it, collective bargaining rights for child care workers, and allowing workers locked out of their jobs by their employers in a labor dispute to collect unemployment insurance. The New Hampshire House approved the Worker Freedom Act to ban mandatory employer meetings on religious, political or union matters. 

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