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NAACP Reaffirms Support for Low Paid Workers

WHEREAS, the NAACP has continued to support the rights of low wage workers throughout its history such as agricultural, service, healthcare, and retail workers through resolutions of support dating back to 1976; and

WHEREAS, in 2011, a study found that more than one in four private sector jobs (26 percent) were low-wage positions paying less than $10 per hour and, moreover, these jobs were concentrated in industries where low-wage workers make up a substantial share - in some cases more than half- of the entire workforce; and

WHEREAS, in 2011, 52.1 percent of all low-wage workers were employed in the top five low-wage industries- food services (57.4% of industry is low wage), accommodation (40%}, retail trade (36.5%}, arts, entertainment, and recreation (34.2%), and administrative services (33.2%); and

WHEREAS, because these industries employ such a significant share of America's lowest-paid workers, the wages that prevail in these sectors help set standards for the bottom end of the labor market as a whole; and

WHEREAS, jobs in low-wage industries have grown significantly faster than employment as a whole and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this trend to continue and estimates that 7 out of the 10 top growth occupations over the next decade are low-wage ones; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. economy has seen growing wage inequality over the past 30 years and has seen African American unemployment at twice the rate of white unemployment for 50 years, as middle-wage jobs in manufacturing have moved to foreign countries and new growth has been concentrated in service industries; and

WHEREAS, income inequality, which fell during the New Deal but has risen dramatically since the late 1970s, corresponds to the rise and fall of unionization in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the passage in 1935 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protected and encouraged unions, sparked a wave of unionization that led to three decades of shared prosperity where labor unions both sustained prosperity and ensured that it was shared and they worked to raise wages and working standards for members and non-members alike and both median compensation and labor productivity roughly doubled into the early 1970s; and

WHEREAS, over the next subsequent years-an era highlighted by the filibuster of labor law reform in 1978, the Reagan administration's crushing of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization ("PATCO") strike, and the passage of anti-worker trade deals with Mexico and China-labor's bargaining power collapsed, union membership has fallen, and income inequality has worsened; and

WHEREAS, a recent study found that the retail industry has more than 15 million workers in the sector and will, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, be the second largest source of new jobs, and that a new wage floor that pays the equivalent of $25,000 per year for full time work, or $12.25 per hour, would raise the living standards of at least 5 million American households and feed back into the economy across sectors and workers spending higher incomes in the marketplace -on retail goods and other purchases - could lead to the addition of $11.8 to $15.2 billion to the GOP and between 100,000 and 132,000 new jobs.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP continues to support the efforts of unions to unionize low wage workers as a fair and equitable means to increase worker pay and benefits, the NAACP encourages the private sector to support the unionization of their own workers and to allow all workers to share in the corporate profitability that they help to create.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, in recognition of the disproportionately high levels of unemployment and low wage work in the African American community that the NAACP advocates for the specific inclusion of African Americans in jobs that provide a living wage and fair benefits.