Newsletter Issue 2: Wage Labor

Getting paid, labor activism, and Super Bowl analysis

  Table of Contents


  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Kansas has one of the lowest minimum wages in the U.S., at $7.25 an hour; many people in Lawrence who receive money “under the table” or through stipends make even less.
  • Someone working forty hours a week, every week of the year, at $7.25/ hour would make, before taxes, $15,080.
  • Many of our fellow Lawrencians do not earn enough to meet basic needs. This is by design, a natural byproduct of the failed capitalist experiment.

  WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

  • The wage system of employment perpetuates inequality, disproportionately affecting individuals from marginalized groups.
  • Wages create artificial distinctions between different types of work. What does a hedge fund manager do for society? Why does a hedge fund manager even need to exist? Why does your landlord make more money than you do?
  • A fair and just society moves beyond the concept of “minimum wage.” One’s right to survival should not be determined by the arbitrary wage employment system.

  INTERVIEW:
Sam from Service Workers Lawrence

Many Lawrencians work in retail, restaurant, or other hourly- wage jobs that pay at or just above the minimum wage. In this interview we talk to Sam, a laborer in the food service industry who is involved with Service Workers Lawrence, which is organizing workers in the food industry around the issues of wages and health care:

Talk a little bit about your experience working in the Lawrence food service industry:

I’ve been working in food & beverage service since I was 16. I’ve worked in both front of house and production areas in business from fast-casual to fine dining.

What is Service Workers Lawrence’s long-term vision?

Our long term vision is to provide a support system for Service workers that exists beyond governmental and employer influence.

What actions have Service Workers Lawrence taken towards realizing that vision?

Service Workers Lawrence is in its nascent stage so our main focus is organizing and educating workers as to their rights.

How would you characterize the current relationship between Lawrence restaurant owners and their employees?

At present, labor in Kansas is under-protected and wholly removed from any government granted agency. Lawrence service labor suffers from the same insecurity but is “protected” by neoliberal capitalists claiming progressiveness because they hire minorities and LGBTQ individuals. This low standard created by Kansas labor laws allows Lawrence bosses to grant bare minimum provisions under the guise of being conscious employers.

How can people get involved with Service Workers Lawrence?

Anyone interested in becoming involved with Service Workers Lawrence can join our mailing list at serviceunionlawrence@gmail.com


  SHORT SOCIALIST SUPER BOWL ANALYSIS

What a game. Once again, the fast food corporations, the yacht-owning team owners, the toxic masculinity torch bearers and the beer brands we know and love won in the tightest of contests. Like every year. Many people thought this would end! Many people thought this would be the year a different kind of football emerged but, alas, it did not. Good thing there is always next year. May we make up new plays. Sing the songs of violence and blitz, of sack and fumble and cheer. Onwards! To a different kind of Super Bowl! To a different kind of sports, bereft of advertisement, exploitation, and bosses! Put the team owners in their place! What a game.


🦒  JARGON GIRAFFE

n. Definitions you need to follow along
Ex: What the hell are you talking about? Get the jargon giraffe!

  • Wage – The lowest amount of money your employer can get away with paying you so you will show up to work and do their bidding
  • Boss – The person who makes more money than you and believes this is to be “the natural order of things”
  • Minimum Wage – What the government thinks is the lowest amount of money an employer should be able to pay an employee.
  • Universal Basic Income – A system where the government pays all of its citizens a basic wage, regardless of their personal identity or current/ past/future employment status.
  • Stipend – What employers will call an employee’s salary when they aren’t really paying that employee a salary; a farce.
  • Fight for 15 – a nationwide movement that seeks
    to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. A good start.

  UPCOMING DSA EVENTS

Lawrence DSA Healthcare Working Group meeting

February 27, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Meeting Room C
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Renters Together LFK – Community Housing Conversation

February 28, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Auditorium
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm


  SOCIALIST HOROSCOPE

The stars will outlive capitalism by many unfathomable leagues of time. It is to them, then, that we look for wisdom and guidance.

  • Jan 20th – Sun enters Aquarius
  • Jan 21st – Full Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo
  • Jan 24th – Mercury enters Aquarius

The lunar eclipse will leave us all feeling like we want something. Full moons magnify our problems, so they may seem big and overwhelming, but they also offer the opportunity to closely inspect things, to get up close and see the surface.

♈ Aries

The next few weeks are asking you to harness and direct your energy. Do the work, or else you might feel bogged down in a cloud of your own making.

♉ Taurus

Remember what keeps you committed to the cause. Think of a moment that shaped you and your beliefs and hold that moment in mind as you walk through the world.

♊ Gemini

You may be feeling pulled in many directions at once. What’s holding you together is your relationship with others. Work on strengthening the tie on that common thread.

♋ Cancer

Take a risk and change your daily routine. You don’t have to be stuck. To start making a better world, you have to believe it’s possible.

♌ Leo

You’re feeling in need of stimulation. Find something that engages both your intellect and your personal passion. Try a reading group!

♍ Virgo

You’re good at making plans and you love to dream, but don’t let planning and dreaming cancel each other out. Don’t lose sight of the dream in the moves you’re making.

♎ Libra

You’re experiencing an exciting moment of inspiration and growth, but there might be some growing pains. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Drink some water.

♏ Scorpio

Now is a good time to slow down, guilt-free. Your strength comes from your self confidence. Build up that charge at home before unleashing it on the world.

♐ Sagittarius

Go out of your way to learn about something that challenges or expands your view of the world. Talk to neighbors while canvassing or dig into a new text in a reading group.

♑ Capricorn

You’re strong and capable but you’ve been flexing too hard. Pause and appreciate what’s around you. Remember that you are more than the sum of your productivity and labor.

♒ Aquarius

Lately your intuitive vision has been out of this world. Imagine unconventional solutions to the long game and go after them.

♓ Pisces

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. We’re all in this together. Ask for what you need, be it from a partner, a friend, a community, a 7 job, or the world.


  GOING FORWARD

The purpose of THE FREE STATE WORKER is to inform you about political issues, legislative proposals, and upcoming events that affect Lawrence. We will also highlight work being done by Lawrence DSA and other activist organizations to benefit our community, the state, and country as a whole.

However, to best serve Lawrence, we need to hear from you. Please contact us to share how you think we can improve our newsletter or if you’d like to learn about how you can get involved with future issues.

We look forward to hearing from you.

In Solidarity,

The Lawrence DSA Newsletter Team

Contact Info


  THE FINAL WORD

Capitalism asks us to sell our labor to the highest bidder, to wholly submit to the designs of our bosses and to appreciate the meager allowances we receive for our time. Capitalism is not only unfair: it is highway robbery.

As such, there have been many plans put forth to “solve” this problem. Everyone seems to agree that no one should work forty hours a week and still live under the poverty line. Many states (not Kansas, however) have raised their so-called “minimum wag- es” over the past several years, and there is a growing movement throughout the U.S. called the “Fight for 15,” which pushes for a $15.00 minimum wage.

Fifteen dollars, obviously, is better than $7.25 (the Kansas minimum wage), and $7.25 is better than $5.15 (the previous Kansas minimum wage). But the problem isn’t the minimum wage. The problem is a system that ties one’s economic security to the ar- bitrary nature of wages and salaries. A truly just and humane society does not allow for one person to be “worth more” than another person. A truly just and humane society ensures that everyone maintains a universal standard of living that is healthy, fulfilling and dignified. A universal basic income system, where the government pays everyone a standard recurring salary regardless of their personal identity or employ- ment status would be a positive step in this direction.

It is possible to be in favor of a fifteen dollar minimum wage while also looking towards a future where wages do not exist. If the Fight for 15 is also the fight for economic justice, then so be it. But fifteen dollars is just fifteen dollars. True power lies in the refusal of a wage system of employment empowering oppression and propagating anxiety.