From farm workers to cheerleaders – we're all in this together

Wednesday, April 23, 2014   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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It doesn't take an IQ much higher than room temperature to realize that it's way past time to raise America's sub-poverty minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But let's also pay attention to the millions of people trying to make ends meet on – believe it or not –America's sub-minimum wage.

Some of our country's richest corporations have turned national wage laws into Swiss cheese, riddling them with special loopholes that let them escape paying even today's miserly minimum wage. This amounts to wholesale daylight robbery of restaurant workers, farm workers, domestic workers, pro-football cheerleaders, taxi drivers, and … wait a minute… back up… cheerleaders?

Yes, super-rich NFL football teams, which sop up billions of dollars in subsidies from us taxpayers, pay peanuts to their highly-publicized cheerleading squads. Widely assumed to be a glamour job, it's actually a poverty job that requires long hours of arduous practice, involves frequent travel (at their own expense) for media appearances and charity events, and subjects the women to abusive treatment by supervisors.

Members of the Oakland Raiders' squad calculate that their pay works out to less than $5 an hour, while the Cincinnati Bengals' cheerleaders (who bear the burden of being called "Ben-Gals") are paid about $2.85 an hour. Astonishingly, though, a recent ruling by the U.S. Labor Department says that this does not violate federal law. Why? Because the macho sports industry got its cheerleaders categorized as "seasonal amusement" employees – a loophole that exempts them from our national pay rules.

The Powers That Be are trying to transform our Land of Opportunity into their low-wage, plutocratic province. From farm workers to cheerleaders, we're all in this together – and it's time for us to get together to stop the plutocrats.

"U.S. Labor Department Calls NFL Cheerleaders 'Seasonal Amusement' – Says They Don't Deserve Minimum Wage," www.alternet.org, April 1, 2014.

"Feds end Raiderette wage probe with no action," www.sfgate.com, March 20, 2014.

"Oakland Raiderette Cheerleader Wage Lawsuit Proceeds Despite Unfavorable Federal Ruling," www.cbslocal.com, March 20, 2014.

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