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Raise the Minimum Wage to $15/hr.
Georgia’s minimum wage hovers at a mere $7.25, while tipped workers, gig workers, and incarcerated Georgians earn even less than that. While Atlanta has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the country, nearly half of working Georgians (45.3%) make less than $15 per hour. Rent, groceries, and transportation costs are rising at unprecedented rates while our wages remain stagnant. The current minimum wage is not livable, and working Georgians must demand more from their employers!
Today, Georgia remains one of only seven states whose minimum wage is either at or below the federal minimum, and thanks to Republicans, the state minimum wage (actually $5.15) has not increased since 2001. Not only should workers organize their workplaces to demand increased pay, but our elected officials owe it to working people to increase the state minimum wage to a livable rate, and peg those wages to the rate of inflation! Further, Georgia law prevents municipalities from setting their own minimum wages – we must repeal those laws as well!
Abolish the tipped wage.
Employers in Georgia are not legally required to pay tipped workers—waiters and waitresses—the minimum wage. In fact, tipped workers are paid a subminimum wage of $2.13 an hour (fixed at that rate since 1996!). Nationwide, service workers are twice as likely to live in poverty as other workers, and seven out of ten service workers in Georgia are women. Service workers have born the brunt of pandemic, not only tolerating unsafe working conditions, but exploitative wages. We must push to abolish the tipped wage and pay all Georgians enough to live on, tips or not!
Repeal Right-To-Work law.
Georgia is one of 28 states with “right-to-work” laws, meaning that it’s illegal for workers to negotiate a contract requiring union members to pay costs used to sustain the union financially. These restrictions are common in the South, and make it difficult for workers to unionize effectively. Only 4.5% of Georgia’s workforce is represented by a union, compared to the national rate of 12%, which has been in decline for decades.
What’s the benefit of a union? Union members are more likely to be afforded paid sick leave, employer-provided health insurance, higher average wages, and increased job security. An organized workplace makes it easier to demand better working conditions from your employer—and puts power back in the hands of working people, making the workplace and society more democratic! (Get help organizing your workplace with EWOC!)
Grant public-sector workers the right to bargain and strike.
Under GOP leadership during the pandemic, many Georgia government employees in—including teachers, sanitation workers, behavioral health professionals—have been required to return to work under unsafe conditions. However, due to lack of legal protections in the state, public-sector workers are not granted the right to collectively bargain to demand better conditions in the workplace. While the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed in 1935, protects private-sector workers’ right to bargain on the job, many public-sector employees are not guaranteed these rights in many states. We must demand that Georgia pass legislation to grant public sector workers their right to collectively bargain and strike on the job!