Apr 16, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon


11Oklahoma Governor Bans Increase in Minimum Wage, Sick Days

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) recently signed a bill into law that bans cities within the state from establishing their own minimum wage, vacation days and sick-day requirements.

According to the Associated Press, Gov. Fallin signed the bill on Monday, a move that was applauded by business leaders who oppose higher wages and benefits for workers.

Opponents of the law say it is aimed at Oklahoma City where there is a movement to raise the city's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, making it higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, noted OKC Fox.

"Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers," Gov. Fallin said, reports Tulsa World.

"Most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs," added Gov. Fallin. "Many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families."

However, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports those myths about minimum wage workers aren't true. In reality, 88 percent of minimum wage workers are older than 20, one third are over 40 and the average age of someone making minimum wage is 35, says the EPI.

Sources: OKC Fox, Associated Press, Economic Policy Institute, Tulsa World

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11Why Wall Street Bank Executives Are 'Too Big to Jail' (Video)

High-level bank executives are rarely prosecuted. What normally happens in the cases of Wall Street law-breaking is the bank admits no guilt, but agrees to pay a huge fine, which it can write off on its taxes.

According to Bloomberg News, James Kidney, a former trial attorney from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recently claimed his bosses were too “tentative and fearful” to prosecute Wall Street leaders.

“[The SEC] polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors,” Kidney said during his farewell party in March. “On the rare occasions when enforcement does go to the penthouse, good manners are paramount. Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening.”

Kidney claimed his bosses didn't want to go after Wall Street firms because they hoped to be hired by those same firms after leaving the SEC.

Former Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi appeared on Democracy Now today to discuss his new book The Divide, which focuses on the vast differences of the justice system for wealthy banks and middle class folks (video below).

Taibbi explained how an African-American bus driver got arrested for "obstructing pedestrian traffic" for standing outside his New York home at 1 a.m. when there was no traffic.

"The idea is to [arrest] as many people as you can, see how many of them have guns or warrants and then throw back the innocent ones," said Taibbi. "But the problem is, they don't throw back everybody, they end up swooping up a lot of innocent people and charging them with really pointless crimes."

Taibbi contrasted that with bank executives who are not prosecuted because there are actual fears in the U.S. Justice Department that if bank executives go to jail, banks might fail, disrupt the economy and cause massive unemployment.

Taibbi said this was a case of "too big to jail."

Sources: Democracy Now and Bloomberg News

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11Man Accidentally Trashes $1.25 Million In Winning Lotto Tickets

A $1.25 million lottery prize went unclaimed last month after the Pennsylvania man with the winning numbers accidentally threw his tickets away.

The man generally plays 20 to 25 Quinto tickets every day with the same set of five numbers. When the numbers finally won on March 13, the man misread the numbers and trashed his tickets, which were valued at $50,000 a piece.

The Pennsylvania Lottery attempted to find the winner in February by asking players to “check the drawer by the sink, under the couch and in the glove box.”

Lottery spokesperson Lauren Bottaro said she sympathized with the winner, but that the unclaimed prize has returned to the lottery fund and can no longer be redeemed.

“We do what we can,” Bottaro said. “But sometimes, it’s just not enough.”

An employee of the Zhou Grocery that the man frequents said he was so mad after learning of the expired tickets that he played $400 in lottery that day.

Sources: NY Daily News, Newser

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11Rep. Marsha Blackburn Defends GOP Blocking Equal Pay Law (Video)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) claimed that Republicans supported “women’s equality” today even though Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act only days ago.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would require companies to disclose information about payment and their workplace demographic. The bill would not allow companies to punish their workers for exercising their free speech rights when talking about salaries. If women were getting paid less for the same job as a man, they would be allowed to file lawsuits for equal pay, reports MSNBC.

"The legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers," Rep. Blackburn claimed on CBS' "Face the Nation," noted RawStory.com (video below).

"What we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that are not fair to women," added Rep. Blackburn.

However, the problem of women being 77 cents for every dollar that men get paid wasn't mentioned by Rep. Blackburn.

“We’re all for equal pay!” said Rep. Blackburn. “I would love for women to be focused on maximum wage, and I have fought to be recognized with equality for a long time. A lot of us get tired of guys condescending to us.”

However, there is no such law or proposed law called "maximum wage."

Rep. Blackburn also said, "Obamacare has been very unfair to women," but failed to mentioned all the preventive medical services women now get under Obamacare without a co-pay.

Sources: MSNBC, RawStory.com, TheGuardian.com

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11Bank Of America Pays $772 Million In Refunds, Fines Over Deceptive Credit Card Practices

Bank of America is paying $772 million in refunds and fines to settle allegations that it illegally misled millions of customers with deceptive credit card practices, regulators said Wednesday.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said that Bank of America illegally deceived 2.9 million customers into buying extra credit card services and charged others for credit monitoring between 2000 and 2012, the New York Times reported.

The bank will pay an additional $20 million penalty to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and $25 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The deal is the largest refund amount ordered to date by the 3-year-old CFPPB, and is the biggest settlement over credit card “add-ons” won by the federal government, reports the Associated Press.

“Bank of America both deceived consumers and unfairly billed consumers for services not performed,” said Richard Cordray, director of CFPB. “We will not tolerate such practices and will continue to be vigilant in our pursuit of companies who wrong consumers in this market.”

Bank of America didn’t admit or deny the accusations, but a statement from the bank said that it had “stopped marketing identity theft protection products in December 2011 and credit card debt cancellation products in August 2012.” The bank also said that it had refunded “the majority” of affected customers.

The CFPB said that from 2000 to 2011, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank charged nearly 1.9 million customers a total of $459 million for numerous identity-protection products without getting their authorization.

From 2010 to 2012, the bureau claims Bank of America representatives misled customers about the real cost of credit card debt-cancellation products bought as protection in instances of unemployment, disability, retirement or start of college.

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11Fox Business Host Says Lower Pay Helps Women Keep Their Jobs (Video)

Fox Business host Melissa Francis claimed yesterday that lower wages for women (compared to men) were actually helping females keep their jobs.

Earlier this week, President Obama asked the U.S. Senate to pass Paycheck Fairness Act, which Republicans blocked, reported Politico.com.

According to MediaMatters.org, during an appearance on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Francis said, "I would also point out that men lost jobs at two and a half times the rate as women in this last recession."

"I know plenty of families where the man is now out of work and the woman is the one who's working full time," added Francis. "Probably because she makes a little less, so she was able to keep her job."

But according to the Monthly Labor Review by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Historically, the goods-producing industries—manufacturing, construction, and mining and logging—have accounted for the overwhelming majority of job losses.

...Men hold the overwhelming share of jobs in a group of goods-producing industries that are considerably more sensitive to changes in the business cycle, while women hold the majority of positions in the less cyclical service-proving industries.

Typically, as demand declines for goods such as automobiles, furniture, and new homes, employment in the related industries that supply those goods falls.

Additionally, goods-producing jobs are often outsourced overseas by U.S. corporations, noted The New York Times.

Sources: Politico.com, MediaMatters.org, Monthly Labor Review, The New York Times

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11More Than $100K Raised For Man Beaten By Angry Detroit Mob

Just last week, Opposing Views told you about the Detroit man who was brutally beaten by a mob after he accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy while driving through a busy intersection. The man, Steve Utash, is currently in critical condition from the beating, but reports now say that in just days, his family has managed to raise more than $111,000 to help him recover.

According to reports, Utash was driving through a busy Detroit intersection when he accidentally struck 10-year-old David Harris with his pickup truck. Utash immediately got out of the car and ran to help Harris, who suffered a broken leg, but an angry crowd of nearly 100 people formed around the scene of the accident, and the group began to viciously attack the 54-year-old.

“This senseless vigilante style attack is not the essence of who we are as Detroiters and will not be tolerated," read a joint statement from Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones. “We are asking all Metro Detroiters to demonstrate our true character by exercising calm and patience during this emotionally charged time. Most important, we must all keep Mr. Utash, David Harris and their families in our prayers. We also are calling on members of our community who know the individuals involved in this brutal attack to step forward so that justice can be served and healing can begin."

As of Saturday, two teenagers were arrested for the beating, and police are currently searching for more people involved in the incident. Deborah Hughes, a retired nurse who happened to be there at the scene of the accident when it occurred, sprung into action and stopped the group from killing Utash.

"I got over there and I told them don't nobody hit him anymore," said Hughes. "I had a gun in my pocket, I was ready to do some damage if I had to. Somebody had to stand up. It was maybe 100 people out here. Were you the only one who said stop? I was the only one. I said don't kick him anymore, don't hit him anymore, get back. I got on the ground with him and I started tending to his wounds, and I told them do not hurt him again.”

Thankfully, Utash is alive, but his family says he is still in critical condition. They set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money to pay his medical bills, and as of Monday morning, the campaign had raised over $111,000.

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11Anonymous Customer Leaves Waitress $1K Tip For Trip To Italy (Photos)

A waitress received a $1,000 tip from a generous customer so that she could fulfill her lifelong dream of vacationing in Italy, and her daughter took to Tumblr to express gratitude to the anonymous man.

The Tumblr blogger “Casual Cynic” first posted a picture of the receipt, which reads, “Your ticket to Italy. Enjoy!!” The blogger, who works with her mother at the unknown restaurant, told readers how the man came to adding a $1,000 tip to his $60.42 bill.

“So my mom and I have been working the same waitress job for 5-6 years now,” explained the blogger in her post. “She had been waitressing years before, but this is recently. Anyway, about...15 minutes ago this guy she waited on left and told her to take care. Just that.”

“Prior to this she had talked to him about Italy,” continued the daughter. “Her people are from Florence, this and that, and she said she's never been. She got 8 years of art education and she's working a waitress job. It's pretty... sad and disappointing, I guess. Her and my father divorced 6 years ago and she hasn't had a real job ever. Just been stuck in a small town she's not from.”

“This man who we have never seen before tipped her 1,000 dollars for a trip to Italy,” revealed the blogger. “Walked out, not another word.”

At the end of the post, the daughter added, “You know. Just when I start to lose faith in humanity… Hm.”

Stories like this really prove that good things do actually happen to good people.

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11Ex-McDonald's Managers Say They Were Told to Illegally Change Employees’ Hours (Video)

McDonald’s workers in California, Michigan and New York recently sued the fast-food giant for wage theft.

According to The New York Times, the employees are claiming McDonald's engaged in "illegally erasing hours from their timecards, not paying overtime and ordering them to work off the clock."

Two ex-McDonald's managers, Kwanzaa Brooks and Lakia Williams, recently explained to Salon.com how they were told to illegally alter timesheets of workers.

“My general manager notified us that someone had exceeded forty hours, and they were going to take their hours off and put it on their next paycheck [in order to avoid paying overtime]," Williams told Salon.com. “Which, you know, that’s illegal.”

Brooks said an assistant manager told her change a computer record to make it look as if an employee had taken a 30-minute break, even if the employee worked through their break, to keep down labor costs.

In a new video (below) produced by "LowPay NotOk," the ex-managers go into depth on how they were allegedly told by their bosses to change employees' hours.

The former managers say they were told to make illegal deductions from employees' paychecks for company uniforms, name tags, meals and "anything."

There is an online petition at RobbedOnTheJob.com that people can sign to remind McDonald's that these alleged practices are illegal.

For its part, McDonald's claims it is looking into the wage theft and the lawsuit, but cautioned the public not to judge the company by the possible actions of franchises.

Sources: The New York Times, Salon.com, RobbedOnTheJob.com, LowPay NotOk

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1171 Companies Don't Want to Pay for Employees' Birth Control Coverage

The Christian-owned corporation Hobby Lobby went to the U.S. Supreme Court last week in an effort to not provide emergency contraception pills or IUDs to its employees under Obamacare's contraception mandate.

Ironically, Hobby Lobby has invested $73 million in the same emergency contraception pills, IUDs and even abortion pills in its employees' retirement plan.

However, Hobby Lobby is not the only company refusing to provide certain types of contraception in health insurance plans, Mother Jones reports there are 70 other companies also denying this type of health care coverage for their female employees.

Trijicon, a military contracting company that manufactures aiming systems for lethal weapons, claimed in its 2013 lawsuit that it cannot cover birth control because "its shareholders have a deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception/fertilization."

Trijicon didn't mention that life ends, thanks, in part, to their products.

Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, which deal in food produce, oppose Obamacare's contraception mandate because the owners Philip and Frank Gilardi, who are Catholic, say they "conduct their businesses in a manner that does not violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs or moral values, and they wish to continue to do so."

However, in 2011, a former female employee sued the company for repeated sexual harassment, which allegedly included, "unwelcome sexual comments, sexual innuendo, and physical contact," noted Mother Jones.

The company denied the sexual harassment claims, but settled the lawsuit with the ex-employee for an undisclosed amount of money.

Salon.com reported last year on Eden Foods, which is also suing the Obama administration over the contraception mandate.

Eden Foods CEO Michael Potter told Salon.com that he opposes “using abortion as birth control, definitely.”

However, after being told by Salon.com that the contraception mandate doesn’t cover abortion, Potter fired back, “I’m not an expert in anything. I’m not the pope. I’m in the food business. I’m qualified to have opinions about that and not issues that are purely women’s issues. I am qualified to have an opinion about what health insurance I pay for.”

The National Women's Law Center has a full list of the companies suing to get out of the Obamacare contraception mandate.

Sources: Mother Jones, National Women's Law Center, Salon.com

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