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Michigan, in Bipartisan Move, Raises Minimum Wage – Reuters

Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday voted to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 per hour by 2018, joining other U.S. states and municipalities that have considered increases in the minimum wage this year.

The increase in the minimum wage was approved by bipartisan votes in both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature. The House vote was 76 to 34, while the Senate vote was 24 to 12.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law later on Tuesday.

“This is something that is good for Michigan,” Snyder told a news conference. “It’s good for the hard-working people of Michigan and I believe economically sound.”

The law ties the state’s minimum wage to the rate of inflation starting in 2019, capped at 3.5 percent per year, and sets the minimum wage for workers earning tips such as waiters at 38 percent of the minimum wage for non-tipped workers.

Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40 per hour for non-tipped workers and $2.65 per hour for tipped workers.

Minimum-wage increases have been considered in 38 states this year in a national push by Democrats. Minnesota was among the states to approve an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour for large businesses by August 2016.

President Barack Obama urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25, but did not win the backing of the Republican-led House of Representatives.

In Michigan, the approval of the minimum-wage hike came a day before a deadline for a group to turn in signatures to put a ballot proposal before voters to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2017 and index wage increases to inflation.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he had concerns about the ballot proposal.

Restaurants, tourism, young people would have suffered,” he said. “I don’t think it was the intent of those who drew up the ballot proposal, but it had some serious problems in it.”

By tying the increase in the minimum wage to an index, the debate can be taken off the table for a long time, he added.

“Michigan families are working harder than ever, and they deserve a raise,” said Representative Tim Greimel, the House Democratic leader.


How Tech Companies Tricked a Generation into Working for Free – Forbes

Last month Apple announced it would open beta testing access for its soon-to-be-revealed version of OS X to anyone with a compatible computer. Once a process reserved for a limited number of developers operating under non-disclosure agreements, the ability to have early access to new software from one of the most desirable companies in the world feels like an unexpected gift. The labor necessary to test software as complicated and widely distributed as an operating system is hard to calculate, but, like all forms of software testing, there is a point where the expense of paying workers is no longer economically feasible. But because Apple has cultivated an image of unattainable desirability for its products, this structure of uncompensated labor becomes a happy privilege, an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evolution of a brand they love as an echo of themselves.

These voluntary forms of unwaged labor have become endemic as work has increasingly shifted toward the production of digital metaphors like apps, operating systems, and analysis. As the economy has continued to create its divine mirage of growth, workers have come to seem like profit deterrents whose need for sleep, food, play, and security drag down the system. Central to this shift has been the mass distribution of computers, the uses of which have become so frictionless and pleasing they encourage the subconscious guilt of the average worker, who begins to suspect that spending her day telecommuting in pajamas building PowerPoint slides, no matter how dull, is not quite work in the digging-ditches or standing-on-an-assembly-line sense of the word. Accordingly the wages of work have drifted toward abstraction as has the will to organize massive labor blocks . The average US wages saw only 5.0 percent growth between 1979 and 2012 while productivity increased 74.5 percent. Meanwhile the value of the stock market has doubled since its massive contraction in 2008, while salaries fell for the bottom 70 percent of the wage distribution during the same period.


Obama Gives Boehner One More Chance to Pass Immigration – Roll Call

President Barack Obama won’t act to reduce deportations on his own until the end of the summer — giving Speaker John A. Boehner one more chance to vote on an immigration overhaul.

Two administration officials confirmed that the president has directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to hold off on releasing the results of his review of immigration policy in the meantime.

The hope in the White House is that once Republican primary season largely wraps up on June 10, Boehner will have the political space to get something done.

“The president’s priority is to enact a permanent solution for people currently living in the shadows and that can only come with immigration reform,” a White House official said. “Legislation should also continue to strengthen our border security, modernize the legal immigration system, and hold employers accountable. He believes there’s a window for the House to get immigration reform done this summer, and he asked the Secretary to continue working on his review until that window has passed. There’s a bipartisan consensus. It’s time for them to act and the President didn’t want the discussion of the Secretary’s review to interfere with the possibility of action in the House.”

A DHS official sent this statement:

While the review is ongoing, the President believes there is an opportunity for Congressional action this summer and has asked Secretary Johnson to hold on releasing any results from his review while this window for Congressional action remains open. Secretary Johnson continues to conduct the review, including meeting with stakeholders and his workforce to inform any final decisions.

Boehner has repeatedly said that nothing will happen on immigration unless the president convinces his members that he will enforce the law.

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week set a deadline of the August recess for passing immigration legislation, and offered to make 2017 the effective date so that Republicans could not use Obama’s enforcement of the law as an excuse not to pass it.


Median CEO Pay Tops $10 Million for the First Time – NPR

Are you getting rich off the rising stock market? America’s CEOs are.

Median compensation for the chief executive of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company was $10.8 million last year, according to a study by the Associated Press.

That represents an 8.8 percent increase over 2012 and marks the first time that median compensation crossed the eight-figure mark.

Much of the increase was due to performance cash bonuses, stock awards and options. The S&P 500 index rose 30 percent last year, while earnings per share increased by more than 5 percent, lifting CEO compensation, which is generally tied to such indicators.

Bankers got the biggest raises, with total compensation on Wall Street rising 22 percent — matching the 22 percent they’d received a year earlier. Media industry CEOs also did nicely, with the top officials of CBS, Viacom, Walt Disney and Time Warner each pulling in more than $30 million

All told, more than two-thirds of CEOs got a raise, according to the study, which AP and the executive pay research firm Equilar conducted using federal filing statements.

Women CEOs made more than men — $11.7 million, compared to $10.5 million. But that applied only to the dozen women who were included in the sample, compared to 325 male CEOs.

Last year was the fourth in a row in which CEO compensation increased, following a dip with the Great Recession. “The median CEO pay package climbed more than 50 percent over that stretch,” according to the AP. “A chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker’s salary, up sharply from 181 times.”

Estimates from labor groups put the ratio even higher. With political attention to income inequality increasing, lavish CEO pay remains a potent symbol.