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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Some Facts to Ponder on Labor Day


In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president, 84% of American workers in large to medium sized corporations had retirement pension plans. Today, just over 25 years later, only 33% due. It is estimated that 40% of those who are working today will not have enough through either savings, retirement, or Social Security to live above the poverty line.

The Federal Minimum Wage has not been raised since 1997. Despite this fact, and despite the fact that we have record budget deficits, Congress this year voted to give itself a $3,3100 raise. The new pay raise for Congress means the salaries of senators and representatives have gone up by $31,600 since 1997, while minimum wage workers still earn only $10,700 a year.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, seven of every 10 workers who would benefit from a $2.10 increase in the minimum wage are adults.

At the current federal minimum wage rate of $5.15, a minimum wage worker has to work 11.2 hours to pay for one tank of gas.

In 2003, workers paid an average of $2,283 for employment-based family health insurance. That's 20 percent of a minimum wage worker's $10,712 full-time, full-year earnings.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the percentage of businesses offering health insurance to their employees has declined from 69% in 2000 to 60% in 2005. Among those firms still offering health insurance, 20% offer "high-deductible" health plans. Since 2000, health insurance premiums have increased 73% while overall inflation increased 14% and wages increase only 15%.

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