Settlement reached in Uber independent contractor suits

Two potentially ground-breaking class action lawsuits that could have radically altered the relationship between Uber and its drivers ended on April 21 with a soft whimper instead of a loud bang when attorneys for the plaintiffs and Uber announced that they had reached a settlement.

Plaintiffs in the two suits, one in California, the other in Massachusetts,  argued that they are employees entitled to all rights and protections afforded to employees by US labor law ( social security, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, overtime pay, etc.) and not as Uber prefers to call them independent contractors.

The settlement does not definitively resolve the question of whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors.

But the plaintiffs’ attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said that there will be other opportunities to win labor rights for Uber drivers.

“The case (has been) settled–not decided,” said Liss-Riordan. “No court has decided whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors and that debate will not end here.”

One of the two suits would have been heard in San Francisco, Uber’s home base, and Liss-Riordan said that it was too risky to let a jury in San Francisco determine the employment status of the company’s drivers.

As part of the settlement, Uber agreed to pay up to $100 million.. The bulk of that money will go to compensate eligible drivers.

Those eligible include drivers in California and Massachusetts who opted out of the clause in their contract that forbids them from joining class action suits.

Liss-Riordan estimates that about 385,000 drivers will be eligible for compensation but not all will file claims.

The amount of money eligible drivers receive depends on the number of miles that they have driven for Uber and where they work. Those who have driven more than 25,000 miles in California could receive as much as $8000.

That amount is based on an estimate that only 50 percent of those eligible will file claims.

If 100 percent of the eligible drivers in California file claims, the amount that each driver receives would be $1950. In Massachusetts, the average amount received if 100 percent of eligible drivers file claims would be $979.

The average payout for drivers who drove less than 25,000 miles is between $24 and $1137.

The settlement still allows Uber to set fees and to determine how much of the fare it keeps. Currently, Uber keeps an upfront booking fee and then 20 percent of the remaining fare.

As a result of the settlement, drivers will now be able to post information in their vehicle explaining that tips are not included in the fare and that tips would be appreciated.

The agreement also  makes it somewhat more difficult for Uber to fire (or deactivate as Uber calls it) drivers working in California or Massachusetts.

Uber must now show sufficient cause for firing a driver and provide a warning that gives the driver an opportunity to correct problems identified by the company.

It establishes a panel composed of highly rated drivers who will hear appeals by drivers contesting their firing. Drivers not satisfied with the panel’s decision may appeal to an arbitrator paid by Uber.

Uber will no longer be able to fire drivers for low acceptance rates. In the past, if drivers accepted less than 80 percent of ride requests, they received emails from Uber threatening them with dismissal.

The settlement also requires Uber to meet quarterly with representatives of a drivers association.

The drivers association and Uber will discuss issues of concern among drivers.

The Teamsters in California have already stated that they will try to help Uber drivers form their association.

“After receiving overwhelming outreach from Uber drivers, representatives of Teamsters Joint Council 7 have announced plans to form an association for workers in California’s rideshare industry,” reads a statement issued by the Teamsters after the

“We welcome any Uber drivers seeking to improve their working conditions,” said Rome Aloise, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “By coming together, the Teamsters will help these drivers have a stronger voice and improve standards for rideshare drivers in California.”

The Teamsters have already helped organize an association of Uber drivers in Seattle.

Despite the concessions that Uber made in the settlement, Uber seems quite happy with the outcome.

In a public statement, Uber said that it “was pleased (with) this settlement” because it leaves intact for now the drivers’ status as independent contractors.

Michael Hiltzik, writing for the Los Angeles Times, observes that Uber has other reasons to be happy.

“Had litigation continued, it might have put the company’s entire business model on trial, exposing the degree to which the economic benefits of the so-called ‘gig economy’ flow heavily, even exclusively toward investors and executives at the expense of those providing the core services.”

Temp workers at vehicle parts factory win union recognition

Bold action by temporary workers at a vehicle parts plant near Cleveland paid off when management agreed to recognize their union.

After presenting a letter to management explaining their desire to join a union and become permanent employees, temporary production workers at Detroit Chassis in Avon, Ohio unanimously voted to go on strike unless the company agreed to recognize their union.

The strike vote was taken on Sunday, April 17. On Monday the workers rallied outside the plant and prepared to go on strike on Tuesday.

Before they could so, Detroit Chassis management made a commitment to recognize the workers’ union.

The workers are now in the process of forming a negotiating committee that will meet and bargain with the company on the issues that the workers raised in their letter to management.

“Winning this union is a huge relief for us, and will help bring good jobs that are sorely needed in our community,” said David Perrier, a production worker active in the union drive. “I’ve worked at the plant since Day 1, and I could see the only way we were going to get a decent paycheck and fair treatment on the job is by coming together in a union and demanding it. This victory proves that by speaking out, we can win real change.”

Low pay, the lack of regular shifts, and no benefits such as paid sick or vacation leave led some Detroit Chassis workers like Perrier to start talking about forming a union.

With the help of organizers from the United Autoworkers (UAW), their talk led to plans for the action that resulted in their victory.

Detroit Chassis opened its Avon factory in 2015. When the plant opened, all of production workers were hired as temporary workers. Their pay ranged from $9.50 an hour to $11.50 an hour.

Some had the impression that they might become permanent employees, but more than a year after the plant became operational, all 58 production workers were still classified as temporary with no possibility of change in sight.

The workers formed their union in order to change their temporary status. They wanted management to make them permanent workers with all of the wages and benefits that go along with permanent work.

“Many companies use long-term temporary workers, employed through a staffing agency like they were at Detroit Chassis, as yet another tool to discourage workers from organizing for better jobs,” said Ken Lortz, director of UAW Region 2B. “What happened here in Avon is the first time I remember seeing temporary workers stand up and say enough is enough. Their actions are proof that when workers stick together, they can win, regardless of the obstacles that employers put in their way.”

According to the UAW, about 14 percent of the workers in the auto parts sector are temporary workers employed through staffing agencies.

Pay for these temporary workers is on average 29 percent less than permanent employees. They also do not receive benefits.

At one time, going to work at an auto parts plant was a gateway to middle-class life, but that is no longer the case.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) reports that “real wages for auto parts workers, who account for nearly three of every four autoworker jobs, fell by nearly 14 percent from 2003 to 2013, three times faster than for manufacturing as a whole.”

The Detroit Chassis Avon workers were in a better position to improve their lot than most temporary workers.

Their plant provides just-in-time axles and wheel assemblies used in the production of Ford’s F-650 and F-750 trucks.

Had they shut down production with a strike, truck assembly at the Ford Lake Avon plant would have come to a halt in a day or less, reports the UAW.

With their union victory, Detroit Chassis workers are anticipating significant changes to their lives.

“This union contract for our workforce could change the lives of many people, just with the bump up in wages and benefits,” said Gabe Luchkowsky, a Detroit Chassis worker to the Morning Journal, a regional news organization. “Some of the guys were saying, ‘I can finally go to the doctor now.’”

USW asks US government to impose a temporary tariff on imported aluminum

The United Steelworkers (USW) on April 18 petitioned the US government to impose temporary tariffs on imported aluminum.

According to the USW, low-priced imported unwrought aluminum, the aluminum made at smelters and used in a variety of manufactured goods, has cost the US 6500 decent paying manufacturing jobs and threatens the very existence of a key domestic industry.

“Aluminum is vital to our national and economic security, and this (petition) will help us retain and begin to rebuild domestic production of primary unwrought aluminum, which has reached critically low levels as a result of flooding imports,” said Leo Gerard, USW president. “By the end of June, the industry will be operating at only 25 percent of 2011 production levels, and the total number of laid off workers will reach 6,500.”

The union’s petition asks the US government’s International Trade Commission to find that cheap imports have seriously harmed the domestic aluminum industry and asks for a four-year tariff on imported aluminum produced from raw materials and not from recycled materials.

The commission is required to make a decision within 60 days. If the commission sides with the union, the President has 30 days to decide whether to implement a tariff or provide some other relief.

The union is proposing that a tariff of 50 percent be imposed for the first year. The rate drops to 45 percent in the second year, 40 percent in the third year, and 35 percent in the fourth year.

According to USW, cheap aluminum imports are the result of overproduction in China, which has caused a glut of aluminum in the global market.

If after four years, the glut subsides and prices stabilize at sustainable levels, the tariff would be lifted.

“The USW’s trade (petition) is intended to provide needed relief,” said Tom Conway, USW International Vice President. “We are requesting four years of increased tariffs, with the tariffs capped at a price allowing domestic producers to effectively operate and, hopefully, restore production.”

Since 2011, the market share of domestically produced aluminum has declined by 19.44 percent; meanwhile, the market share of imported aluminum has increased by 19.66 percent, nearly a 40 point spread.

Canada is the main exporter of aluminum to the US, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Qatar, and Argentina.

The influx of cheap imported aluminum has left the domestic aluminum producers reeling.

“In states all across the country, America’s aluminum producers have (been) closed, idled, or are at risk,” said Gerard. “Over just five years, we’ve seen the number of smelters plummet. In 2011 there were 14 smelters in the United States. Today there are only eight, of which only five are currently operating and one is expected to be idled at the end of June. Two of the five now operating are at 50 percent or less of capacity.”

The union’s petition also asks that the US government negotiate with China to reach an agreement on how to end its overproduction of aluminum. The aim of such an agreement would be to restore aluminum prices to sustainable levels.

“It is critical that the supply-demand imbalance be addressed quickly and effectively by the Obama administration,” said the USW’s press release on its petition. “China and the United States have been discussing China’s excess capacity as part of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) process, and China has internally recognized it has massive excess capacity in primary unwrought aluminum. What is needed is an actual correction of the imbalance and temporary relief for domestic producers until that is achieved.”

Verizon workers strike for jobs, better customer service, and their families

When negotiations between striking workers and Verizon resumed on Friday, April 15, the two unions representing the 39,000 striking workers came ready to negotiate a fair contract that could end the two-day old strike, but Verizon management had other priorities.

Instead of bargaining, Verizon executives demanded more concessions from the unions, then left the meeting to get an early start on their weekend.

The unions, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers (IBEW), rejected the new concession demands and the ones that Verizon has insisted on during the last ten months of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement that covers Verizon union workers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

“Workers already have put hundreds of millions of dollars in health care cost savings on the table,” said Ed Mooney CWA vice president for District 2-13. “We simply cannot compromise on contract changes that would ship more work overseas and have our families separated for months at a time.”

While Verizon executives were turning their backs on their workers, they appeared to be turning their backs on customers as well.

The New York Times reports that “Verizon’s wireline customers can reasonably expect a deterioration of service (during the strike).”

All but a handful of the strikers work in Verizon’s wireline division, which provides landline telephone services to homes and businesses.

Their skill and expertise keep landlines at homes and businesses operating.

Skilled call center representatives are also on strike. They expedite customers’ calls for help and service.

Verizon reports that it has trained 10,000 non-union staff to replace the 39,000 strikers during the strike, but it’s difficult to see how this under-staffed cohort of strike breakers can maintain pre-strike levels of services.

“There will almost certainly be some functions which may be slower or unavailable during the strike, because they require specialized skills or there just aren’t sufficient alternative resources available to fill all functions,” said Jan Dawson, an independent technology analyst for Jackdaw Research to the Times.

But this won’t be the first time that Verizon has put customer service on the back burner.

In 2004, Verizon promised to extend FiOS, its fiber optic service, to 18 million people living in communities without this service. Doing so would have extended broadband internet service and improved landline service to these communities.

More than a decade later, millions of these potential customers are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

As a result 14 mayors of cities that have been passed over by Verizon, recently wrote the company a letter criticizing the company’s decision to ignore their communities.

Verizon also failed to extend FiOS to under served communities in New York City.

According to Counterpunch, the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication reported last year that Verizon had not met the terms of an agreement with the city to expand FiOS in the city’s five boroughs.

And both unions report that Verizon is not maintaining its copper wire network, which makes wireline service possible to millions of customers.

Verizon has snubbed customers in other ways.

For instance, it has outsourced 5,000 call center customer representative jobs to other countries.

Rosemary Batt, a professor at Cornell University who studies the impact of offshoring call center jobs, told the Times that, “turnover is lower and performance and customer satisfaction are substantially higher when (call center work) is done in-house (rather than offshore).”

“You need a more sophisticated work force that’s trained and committed to the company to do (customer service) well,” said Batt to the Times.

Preserving the in-house call-center jobs that remain at Verizon is one of the main goals of the strike.

Without the union, (more)  jobs would be off-shored in a heartbeat,’ said Keith Bonasoro  a striking IBEW member to the Boston Globe. . . “What we’re doing here is we’re protecting American jobs. They (Verizon) want to constantly off-shore, outsource good middle-class jobs that support our community. There’s growing public sentiment against corporate greed.”

In addition to offshoring jobs, Verizon, which reported $39 billion in profits during the last three years, wants to outsource more work to low-wage contractors, close and consolidate call centers, and make wireline technicians work away from home–sometimes in other states–for up to two months at a time.

Closing and consolidating call centers and making technicians work away from home for extended periods of time will make family life more difficult for workers and their loved ones.

Verizon also is refusing to negotiate a new first contract for Verizon wireless workers who recently joined CWA and wants to raise health care costs of Verizon retirees.

“Our families and our customers deserve more from Verizon” said Isaac Collazo, a CWA member from Brooklyn. “Through our hard work, Verizon is making record profits while our families are left with threats to our jobs and our customers aren’t getting the service they need. Striking is a hardship for our families, but we need to remind Verizon executives that the people who build their profits are a critical reason for the company’s success.”

Illinois Senate to vote on Domestic Workers Bill of Rights bill

Domestic workers rallied in Springfield, Illinois on April 13 urging members of the state senate to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act (HB 1288). The senate plans to take up and vote on the bill on April 13.

The bill, which has already passed the state house of representatives, will extend basic employment rights such as a minimum wage, at least one day off a week, and freedom from sexual harassment to domestic workers–house cleaners, nannies, and home care workers.

Some of these rights, such as a guaranteed minimum wage, have been in place for nearly a century, but domestic workers have been excluded from these protections.

“I think that most lawmakers agree that this is a very common sense and straightforward piece of legislation, and that it will right a historic wrong for domestic workers who’ve been excluded from basic labor protections for years,” said James Povijua, the Illinois Domestic Bill of Rights campaign director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance to Progress Illinois.

Back in the 1930s, domestic workers were excluded from federal legislation that established labor standards that became the foundation of labor law.

At the time, most domestic workers were either immigrants or African American, and their exclusion was part of compromise reached to gain support of racist Southern lawmakers for laws establishing these standards.

That exclusion continues to affect the working conditions of today’s domestic workers.

Maria Esther Bolaños, a Chicago nanny, said that in order to help support her family, she has been forced to take child care jobs that paid as little as $4 an hour.

Isabel Mendez and Aurelia Aguilar, both Chicago house cleaners, said that have been the victims of wage theft.

Aguilar said that she has cleaned entire houses without being paid. In some cases, she has even been denied lunch breaks during nine-hour work days.

Mendez was fired from a job in which she was owed $10,000 in unpaid wages. The fight to win her back pay got her involved in supporting the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights bill now before the Illinois senate.

Two demographic trends are making domestic workers a growing and more important part of the overall economy.

First, baby boomers, those born in the two decades after the end of World War II, are reaching the age of retirement. As more baby boomers grow older, more will need the services that domestic workers provide, especially home health care services.

In the coming decades, the number of people in the US who are 80 years of age or older is expected to triple. Many of these people will develop health problems that will require the services of home health care workers.

A large contingent of experienced and well-trained home health care workers can help ensure that more elderly people with health problems can stay in their home and avoid going into nursing homes, which in turn will save the federal and state governments money in Medicaid payments to nursing homes.

Second, for most two-parent families, it’s not economically feasible for one parent to stay home, take care of the children, and do the work needed to maintain a home.

In many cases, both adults are holding down full-time jobs and need child care and/or house cleaning services provided by domestic workers.

Both trends are increasing the need and demand for domestic workers. .

According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, the demand for home care workers will be particularly acute in the coming years. It reports that the home care workforce is currently estimated to be 3.3 million and that number is projected to increase nearly 50 percent to 4.9 million by 2020, making it the largest occupational group in the US.

Demand for other domestic workers is also growing, but most of these workers don’t enjoy the same labor protections that other workers take for granted.

Groups of workers whose members include domestic workers have joined forces in Illinois to extend these protections to domestic workers.

They created the Domestic Workers Coalition to push the legislature to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The coalition is composed of Latino Union, AFIRE, and Arise Chicago.

If the senate votes to pass the bill, it will be because workers in these organizations built a grassroots movement that brought this injustice to the attention of lawmakers and then made them act to correct it.

Strike at Verizon set for April 13

CWA and IBEW, two unions that represent 39,000 Verizon workers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, announced that the unions will strike Verizon beginning at 6 A.M. on April 13 unless a fair new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

The strike will be the largest work stoppage in the US since the same Verizon workers went on a two-week strike in 2011.

Bargaining representatives for both unions said that Verizon’s greed is the cause of this strike.

“We’re standing up for working families and standing up to Verizon’s corporate greed,” said CWA District 1 vice president Dennis Trainor. “If a hugely profitable corporation like Verizon can destroy the good family-supporting jobs of highly skilled workers, then no worker in America will be safe from this corporate race to the bottom.”

“For months and months, we’ve made every effort to reach a fair agreement at the bargaining table,” said Myles Calvey, IBEW Local 2222 business manager and chairman, T-6 Verizon New England. “We’ve offered Verizon hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings and yet they still refuse to provide basic job security for workers. We have to take a stand now for our families and every American worker.”

CWA and IBEW have been bargaining with Verizon for ten months. In August, their collective bargaining agreement expired, but the unions agreed to continue negotiations in hopes of finding common ground that would make a fair agreement possible.

In March, the unions proposed a path for addressing the company’s critical needs including health care cost savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Instead of responding to unions’ proposals with proposals that addressed the union workers’ critical needs, the company continued to demand steep concessions.

In addition, Verizon told union negotiators that unless the unions accepted these concessions by May 20, the company would start transferring technicians without their consent to any place where Verizon does business in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

The transfers would last for up to two months. During that time, workers would be forced to live away from their homes and families.

“Verizon is already turning people’s lives upside down by sending us hundreds of miles from home for weeks at a time, and now they want to make it even worse,” said Dan Hylton, a technician and CWA member in Roanoke, Virginia, who has been with Verizon for 20 years. “Technicians on our team have always been happy to volunteer after natural disasters when our customers needed help, but if I was forced away from home for two months, I have no idea what my wife would do. She had back surgery last year, and she needs my help. I just want to do a good job, be there for my family, and have a decent life.”

In addition to asserting more control over their employees time away from work, Verizon is demanding concessions that, according to the unions would “gut job security protections, contract out more of our work, freeze our pensions at 30 years of service, and shutter call centers and offshore the jobs to Mexico and the Philippines.”

Verizon also wants to eliminate profit sharing and raise health care costs for retirees. In addition, the company refuses to offer wage increases and benefit improvements to it unionized Wireless workers.

Verizon is demanding all these concessions at a time when the company is extremely profitable.

During the last three years, the company booked profits of $39 billion. During the first three months of 2016, Verizon has averaged $1.8 billion a month in profits.

Verizon executives have been amply compensated for the company’s profitability.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was paid $18 million last year, 200 hundred more times than the average Verizon worker.

Over the last five years, Verizon’s top five executives were paid $233 million.

Shareholders have also been treated generously.

“Last year alone, Verizon paid out $13.5 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to shareholders. But they claim they can’t afford a fair contract,” reads a message that CWA sent to members about the upcoming strike.

“More and more, Americans are outraged by what some of the nation’s wealthiest corporations have done to working people over the last 30 years, and Verizon is becoming the poster child for everything that people in this country are angry about,” said Edward Mooney, vice president, CWA District 2-13. “This very profitable company wants to push people down.”

Mooney also criticized Verizon for not fulfilling its promise to expand its fiber optic network (FIOS) to communities that are not adequately served by high-speed internet service and for not maintaining it copper wire network that enables land line services to homes and businesses.

Verizon doesn’t just want to push down its workers it also wants to “push communities down by not fully repairing the network and by not building out FIOS.”

California, New York raise minimum wage to $15

The governors of California and New York on April 4 signed into law new minimum wage bills that will raise the minimum wage for most workers in their states to $15 an hour.

The new laws raise the minimum wage in increments.

In California, the minimum wage reaches $15 an hour for most workers by 2022.

New York adopted a two-tier approach that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour in New York City by 2018. Workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, all suburbs of New York City, will see their minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by the end of 2021.

Wages for those living in other New York counties will top out at $12.50 an hour by 2020. After that, the state’s labor commission will periodically adjust the minimum wage for workers in those counties as the cost of living increases.

In California, hundreds of low-wage workers demonstrated at the state Capitol on March 31, the day that the state’s General Assembly was preparing to vote on SB 3, the bill that California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on April 4.

The demonstration underscored the worker activism that made a $15 minimum wage a reality.

“Wages didn’t get raised until workers raised their voices,” said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU California and SEIU Local 2015 at the Mach 31 demonstration. “The credit for making history today belongs to the workers who spoke out and risked it all, the labor unions and community organizations who supported them, and elected leaders here in California who listened. As a result, millions of Californians are on the path out of poverty.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new minimum wage law at a rally sponsored by New York’s labor unions.

When he signed the new minimum wage law, he also signed a new law that provides paid family leave benefits for workers.

In 2018, when the law becomes effective, New York workers will be eligible for eight weeks of paid leave equal to one-half of current salary to care for a newborn baby or a family member who becomes severely ill. The number of paid leave weeks increases to 12 by 2021.

The movement for a $15 minimum wage began just three years ago in New York City when 200 fast food and other underpaid workers went on strike for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

In the early stages of the movement, the demand for such a big increase was dismissed as unrealistic.

But the voices of workers in the streets made the demand difficult to ignore, and cities such as Seattle and San Francisco passed ordinances that phased in a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Critics, however, continue to criticize the new minimum wage laws as job killers.

After California and New York passed their $15 a minimum wage laws, a columnist for Forbes magazine called the new laws “a booby prize” for workers because the job losses caused by higher wages will offset their benefits.

Lawrence Michel and David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute, however, disagree. They call the new wage laws, “bold” and “exactly what we need.”

“Simply put, a bold effort is needed to make up for the lost decades in which the minimum wage was simply eroded by inflation or was increased only modestly,” write Michel and Cooper.

They note that some job losses can be expected due to the increased minimum wage but that the total number of work hours won’t be affected. As a result, those who lose jobs should be able to find new jobs that pay the new higher minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15  will significantly boost the overall income going to low-wage workers and their families,” write Michel and Cooper.

A report by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center finds that a big increase to the minimum wage helps underpaid workers significantly and can improve the overall economy.

According to the report, “Higher wages will be absorbed by employers through reduced turnover, improved productivity, and small price increases,” which will be offset by “the increased sales generated by low-wage workers who receive raises.”

Experts are studying the real impact of significantly raising the minimum wage on Seattle, whose minimum wage ordinance became effective more than a year ago.

According to the professor leading the study, “the sky is not falling” because of the new ordinance. “If it was really bad (as some predicted), a lot of people would have lost their jobs and every opening would get tons of applicants. That is not happening,” said Jacob Vigdor to the Seattle Times.

Vigdor is the Daniel J. Evans professor of Public Policy and Governance at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.

The Times also reported on the impact that the new ordinance is having on low-wage workers. The response of one of those interviewed was poignant.

“I don’t have to struggle as much,” said a store clerk whose wage just increased to $13 an hour to the Times reporter.