National / International News

The accidental origin of the $15 minimum wage

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:02

President Obama wants lawmakers to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.  But Congress hasn't voted to increase the minimum wage since 2007, and there’s little hope it will now.

It’s a different story at the local level.

In just the last year, Seattle and San Francisco both passed measures to gradually increase their minimum wages to $15.  And Los Angeles’ city council is considering a $15.25 wage.

Those cities are following in the footsteps of SeaTac, Washington, a tiny town just outside Seattle, and home to the region’s biggest airport. A year ago, it became the first city in America to have a $15 minimum wage.

“SeaTac will be viewed someday as the vanguard, as the place where the fight started,” says union organizer David Rolf, who led SeaTac’s $15 campaign, in a victory speech in November 2013.

That day is already here, but the funny thing is Rolf never set out to raise SeaTac’s minimum wage, much less start a national movement. His original goal was to unionize workers at SeaTac airport.

When employers – led by Alaska Airlines - played hardball, Rolf put a $15 minimum wage proposition on the city ballot as leverage.

It won by just 77 votes.

“Things could have gone very different had the airlines said we’ll bargain a contract,” Rolf says. “Those workers may have had $15, but it might not have been on the ballot. It would have been in the union contract, and it would have just been for those workers.”

As it turns out, because of a court challenge it’s actually those airport workers who are the only ones in SeaTac not making at least $15 an hour. But the $15 minimum wage movement soon spread, to Seattle last June, and to San Francisco in November.

“It was not yet with an eye on being some sort of domino that fell and leveraged similar victories across the country, but I think people are proud that that’s what happening,” Rolf says.

And surprised, says Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College.

“A couple years ago the idea of a $15 minimum wage would have been considered outrageous,” Dreier says.

So what changed?

There’s the $15 number itself, nice and round, easy to fit on a bumper sticker. The figure first came to people’s attention in a series of strikes by fast food workers that started in 2012. The workers didn’t achieve their goal of unionization, but fifteen dollars stuck.

There’s also the fact that post-recession, many voters have become more concerned about income inequality, says Paul Sonn, The National Employment Law Project’s General Counsel.

“It’s clearly a response to the economy’s tilt to low-wage jobs which is hitting cities like L.A. hard, which are seeing wages flat or falling but at the same housing and living costs are continuing to rise,” Sonn says.

Unions are hopeful the $15 wage can spread to every state, but labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein is skeptical.

“I don’t think having high wages in a few cities will mean it will spread to red state America,” saysLichtenstein.

Oklahoma recently banned any city from setting its own minimum wage, joining at least 12 other states with similar laws.

In November, voters in four Republican leaning states — Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska  - did approve higher minimum wages, but they weren’t close to fifteen dollars.

Lichtenstein says having a patchwork of local wage standards is bad for workers.

“One of the laws of labor history is that you can’t a strong movement in one place and have the rest of the country hostile to it,” he says. “Eventually the strength of that labor movement will be drained away as employers do in fact move.”

Whether local minimum wages cause businesses to pack up and move somewhere cheaper is hotly debated among economists.

A University of California, Berkeley study predicted small clothing manufactures could leave L.A. if the minimum wage is hiked.  But no one really knows, because the $15 wage movement has just gotten started.

NBA Player Flouts A Critic's Guarantee That He Would Be Arrested

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:01

In 2010, sportswriter Clay Travis said in a tweet, "There is a 100% chance that DeMarcus Cousins is arrested for something in the next five years."

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Fun fact Friday: How green are thy Super Bowl advertisers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 11:47

Fun fact: Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials include 15 first-time advertisers.

Among the newcomers: Avocados From Mexico, the first fresh produce brand to advertise during the Super Bowl, and Always, a brand of feminine hygiene products.

New brands take a chance with Super Bowl ads

Fun fact: You’ve heard of leap year, but soon you will experience a tinier, shorter, more adorable time-adjustment: the leap second.

On June 30, clocks around the world will add one second to their time.

The leap second, deep space and how we keep time

Fun fact: The Federal Communications Commission is ruling on net neutrality in less than a month.

Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch breaks down everything you need to know about the formally incomprehensible issue with just a few markers, a whiteboard and a delightful Irish accent.

Net neutrality: Whole lot of drama in those two words

Fun fact: Havard University raised $1.16 billion last year.

Yes, that’s a record.

Schools rake in record donations ... unequally

Fun fact: For the first time, the Sundance Film festival showed a film made with the help of virtual reality technology.

A consumer version may be around the corner, according to Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR.

The movie (literally) in my mind

VIDEO: Escapee D-Day veteran's funeral

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 11:33
The funeral is held of Sussex war veteran Bernard Jordan, who left his care home to attend D-Day commemorations in France.

VIDEO: Mother of abused pupil speaks out

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 11:22
Teacher Jeremy Forrest who ran off with pupil 'cried to her mother'

Tech IRL: The trouble with bubbles? They pop.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 11:22

Are we in a bubble, or are we not in a bubble? That is the question — at least if we're talking tech stocks. Recently, tech startups are getting valuations of epic proportions, which could cause individual investors to question if his or her 401k and pension funds are safe.

Katie Benner, a tech columnist with Bloomberg View, says that if you're one of those individual investors, you probably shouldn't worry.

"Most of it is not happening in the public stock markets. It's happening in the private company markets," she says.

Companies that are experiencing an influx of money from investors, like Airbnb, Uber and Square, aren't publicly traded.

Here's partial list of recent startup valuations, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

  • Xiaomi: $46 billion
  • Uber: $41.2 billion
  • Snapchat: $10 billion
  • Airbnb: $10 billion
  • Dropbox: $10 billion
  • Square: $6 billion
  • Pinterest: $5 billion
  • Spotify: $4 billion

Tech IRL: The problem with tech bubbles? They pop

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 11:22

Are we in a bubble, or are we not in a bubble? That is the question ... at least if we're talking tech stocks. 

Recently, tech startups are getting valuations of epic proportions, which could cause individual investors to question if his of her 401k and pension funds are safe.

Katie Benner, a tech columnist with Bloomberg View, says that if you're one of those individual investors, you probably shouldn't worry.

"Most of it is not happening in the public stock markets. It's happening in the private company markets," she says.

Companies that are experiencing an influx of money from investors, like Airbnb, Uber and Square, aren't publicly traded.

Here's partial list of recent startup valuations, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

Xiaomi: $46 billion

Uber: $41.2 billion

Snapchat: $10 billion

Airbnb: $10 billion

Dropbox: $10 billion

Square: $6 billion

Pinterest: $5 billion

Spotify: $4 billion

Mother denies exploiting abduction

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:50
The mother of a girl who was abducted and taken to France by teacher Jeremy Forrest denies she is exploiting her daughter by writing a book on the case.

Putin ally to build bridge to Crimea

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:45
A Russian contract for building a $3bn bridge to Crimea goes to a firm controlled by a close friend of Vladimir Putin who is under Western sanctions.

Woods shoots worst round of career

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:44
Tiger Woods records the worst round of his professional career with an 11-over-par 82 in the second round of the Phoenix Open.

Secret 80s 'sex file' named diplomat

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:23
A top British diplomat engaged in "sexual perversion" in the 1960s and was vulnerable to blackmail by foreign powers, previously secret papers reveal.

Tamil becomes Sri Lanka's top judge

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:16
Sri Lanka's president appoints a Tamil judge as the new chief justice - the first member of the country's minority community to hold the post in decades.

Romney: The aura of a serial loser

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:11
Mitt Romney certainly looked the part of president, but despite his success in business, he could never pull it off.

WATCH: Forget Crop Circles, This Farmer Is Making Art With His Cows

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 10:03

Derek Klingenberg in Kansas put a drone over his farm, then he used his tractor to drop some feed in strategic places for a happy result.

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Hidden homeless left out of the economic recovery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:34

The economy looks like it's rebounding. Stocks are up, corporate earnings are rising, but not everyone feels the effects. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says the most common length of time that someone is homeless is one or two days, and half of the people who enter a homeless shelter will leave within 30 days, never to return. 

Patrick Markee, deputy executive director of advocacy for the Coalition for the Homeless, says while the federal government reports 600,000 people sleep on the streets every night, they know the actual number is bigger than that. "The problem is big and by all accounts getting worse," he says. "Homelessness has always been incredibly difficult to measure accurately, for kind of obvious reasons." 

Darlene Bel Grayson, who was temporarily homeless, says she never expected to find herself in a situation without housing, especially with her careful planning and savings. “I’m not the homeless person you see and think is homeless," she says. 

Click play above to hear more from this story

Hidden homeless left out of the count

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:34

The economy is on the mend: stocks are up, corporate profits are up. But not for everyone.

A number of people have crashed through the safety net, and are out on the streets.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says the most common length of time that someone is homeless is one or two days, and half of the people who enter a homeless shelter will leave within 30 days, never to return. But that impression may not be shared by everyone.

Patrick Markee, deputy executive director of advocacy for the Coalition for the Homeless, says while the federal government reports 600,000 people sleep on the streets every night, they know the actual number is bigger than that.

"The problem is big and by all accounts getting worse," he says. "Homelessness has always been incredibly difficult to measure accurately, for kind of obvious reasons."

Darlene Bel Grayson, who was temporarily homeless, says she never expected to find herself in a situation without housing, especially with her careful planning and savings. 

“I’m not the homeless person you see and think is homeless," she says.

For more on this story, listen to the audio player above.

Who is homeless?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:34

The economy is clearly on the mend, stocks are up, corporate profits are up. But not for everybody.

If you look around it seems like a number of people have crashed through the safety net and are out on the street

The Department of Housing and Urban Development says the most common length of time that someone is homeless is one or two days,

and half the people who enter the homeless shelter system will leave within 30 days, never to return. But that impression may not be shared by everyone.

To find out more about the state of homelessness in 2015, we turn to Patrick Markee, Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy for The Coalition for The Homeless.

Marketplace weekend also speaks with Darlene Bell Grason on what it's like to be temporarily homeless.

Your Wallet: Cheating and Money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:26

Next week, we're talking about cheating. Have you ever financially cheated? Did you cheat on someone you love? Maybe you cheated yourself in some way. 

We want to hear your stories of cheating and money. How did it change your outlook? 

Tell us your story HERE, on the Marketplace Facebook page, or on Twitter: we're @MarketplaceWKND.

Man injured in Belfast shooting

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:26
A man is taken to hospital following a gun attack at a fast food outlet in north Belfast.

Kerry Fined $50 For Not Shoveling Sidewalk Outside Boston Home

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 09:26

The secretary of state was in Saudi Arabia when the massive snowstorm struck the Northeast this week. His spokesman said he would pay the fine.

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