Saturday, June 21, 2014

Let's Raise The Wage to Right The Wrong

“I will have more money overall, and it would come from my own hard work, and my family will be better off. … I want to work and stand on my own two feet."

Alicia McCrary, a fast food worker and mother of four from Mason City, Iowa, gave the above statement during testimony at a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee meeting in March of this year. Click here to see the video and Des Moines Register article about her testimony.
She was talking about the minimum wage in America: $7.25 per hour; $15,080 per year (full-time work); nearly $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.
For too many families in the United States, the minimum wage isn’t enough. I’ve often heard it described as “treading water”. With assistance, you have a chance at meeting your basic needs and staying “afloat” – but you never get ahead. There’s no way to prepare for the next “wave” which could sink you under.
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the HELP Committee, has helped champion a #RaisetheWage movement. This legislation would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. It’s a step toward lessening the growing income inequality in the United States. Over the last 30-40 years, the very wealthy have seen a skyrocketing increase in income while middle-class and low-wage earners have seen wages stagnate or decline. It’s not right.
Time to right that wrong, says Oxfam. Oxfam recently released a new report called “Working Poor in America” which contains some incredible, yet, easy to understand data on workers and pay in the United States. And, it’s disheartening. Over 25 million workers in the United States would see their wages improve as a result of a raising of the minimum wage. That’s 25 million people who would see greater disposable income to reinvest into our economy and less dependence on federal and state government aid. That’s 25 million people who will see their first raise since the last federal minimum wage increase in 2007.
As President Obama described it in his 2014 State of the Union address, “Nobody who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.” To workers like Alicia McCrary, achieving this real American Dream is when she can take pride in knowing that a hard day’s work means that she doesn’t have to decide between feeding her children and one day sending them off to college. Let’s #RaiseTheWage to #RightTheWrong for 25 million!
Click here to go to the White House’s #RaisetheWage movement and add your name to their list of persons demanding that Congress raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Tell 'em Oxfam sent ya!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Time to do better...

There are things in my life that I can always improve upon. I could watch less instant video and spend a little more time outside – maybe then I’d feel more connected to nature. I could get out of bed on the first alarm and not hit the snooze – maybe then I’d have less rushing around in the morning to get ready for work.

The point is, in each of our individual lives, there are things that we could always do better. It’s different for every person and it’s not recognition that the life you/we live is inherently bad in any way. Honestly, there are just THOSE THINGS that we know we could do better. In my life, I’m fortunate (?) to have family, friends, and co-workers who tend to let me know when I could do better. Although not always expressed, I know they share most of what they do out of the desire to see me live up to my full potential.
Oh, the parallels!
For General Mills and Kellogg’s, this is exactly what Behind the Brands is all about! People love Cheerios and Frosted Flakes and Pillsbury Crescents and Pringles. But, we, the consumers, have to recognize the environmental impact that is made when they produce these products. And when that impact is large (and it is!), we need these companies to change the way they do business. They can do better! We don't want General Mills and Kellogg's to stop making these products - instead, they should improve their policies, set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and tell their friends in the food industry that there are ways that we can all do better.
Climate change isn't a distant problem. It's here and it's now. Communities all over the globe are beginning to understand the many ways that climate change will make life harder for them. The sooner we work together to correct course, the easier our work will be. To General Mills and Kellogg's: let's work together! Let's find solutions that respect the environment as well as your bottom line. Your consumers, including many Iowans, are demanding change...just check out the pictures below.
An Oxfam volunteer outside of General Mills processing plant in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Oxfam volunteers inside of a Des Moines, IA grocery store in the cereal asile.

Oxfam volunteers near downtown Des Moines, IA.
Thousands have already spoken on and thousands will continue to add their voices to the challenge: Do better, General Mills and Kellogg’s - stop driving climate change!