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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The University Star - Page 3

SENATE: Students, others support wage increase CONTINUED from page 1

Reid had introduced the bill into the Senate. “We expect it to pass,” Edgar said. “We think this is long overdue and (the bill seems to have an) overwhelming support of the American people.” After passage in the Senate, Edgar said the bill would go to a conference committee because it includes some tax breaks for small businesses, which differs from the version passed by the House. The conference com-

mittee will resolve differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill. The Department of Labor Web site shows Texas as one of 20 states that either has no minimum wage law or have laws that keeps pace with federal regulations. Most states have their own minimum wage laws that exceed the current federal standard of $5.15 per hour. Thirty states have minimum wage rates that already exceed the first increase to $5.85 per hour and most already exceed

GRANT: Organizers look to transfer students from community colleges CONTINUED from page 1

apply and get accepted into graduate school. “There is a focus on academic and financial (success) as far as acquiring the funds necessary to attend (graduate) school,” Ramirez said. “We don’t want students to graduate with thousands of dollars in debt.” Segment one will concentrate on identifying high schools participating in Region XIII, an education service center, and with low percentages of college-bound students and focus on potential first-generation college students. Region XIII works with 16 counties and about 59 school districts, including those in Hays County. Marco Montoya, executive grant director, said the ultimate goal behind segment one is to establish a sense of importance in high school students to apply and attend college. One of the major goals is to provide accessible information in regard to the application process, available resources and financial aid. Financial aid workshops and orientations for parents and students are also a part of the agenda. “Consequently, the lack of money and access to information discourages students from attending college or graduate school,” Montoya said. Adam Salcedo, who is also involved in MAPS, said he believes that socio-economic status is an obstacle for Hispanic students who want to attend college. In his own personal experience, most parents who did not go to college were left leery about the unknown four-year establishments. “If we get to the meat and potatoes of it, we are attacking the problems that foster a lack of inspiration,” Salcedo, biochemistry junior, said. MAPS will also identify a key

student leader, such as a senior class president or student council president. The students will assist in identifying leading problems in Hispanic collegebound students as well as become more college-savvy. They will then refer back to their high schools and shift the agendas to familiarize others with the transition to college. In segment two, MAPS hopes to create a higher number of transfers from community colleges, mostly from Austin Community College. Seven seniors from every college within the university will reach out to students from the community colleges and relay as much information as possible through student interest groups. The goal is to reach as many students as possible and provide a source of additional help and support for those who want to transfer to a four-year establishment, Montoya said. “Two out of every three Hispanic students start off in community colleges,” he said. Passing what is referred to as the gateway course, or college algebra, is the focal idea in segment three. MAPS intends to provide tutoring services to enrolled college students in two ways: either with one-on-one sessions or online through system discussion boards. Montoya recognizes the struggle some students have with the course and said MAPS will ensure help is provided to pass this graduation requirement. All efforts operate toward the eventual objective: a constant flow from high school to college and then on to graduate school. “This is such a great opportunity,” Ramirez said. “It’s a shame that people don’t take advantage of them more often.” There are three ENLACE offices in Texas one in Austin, Laredo and San Marcos.

the next bump to $6.55. Travis Bourne, construction technology senior, said raising the minimum wage was a good idea. “Before I started working, I thought (the minimum wage) was higher,” he said. Bourne makes a little more than minimum wage at his work-study position but does not think he could get by on just that. “I get loans and grants and my parents help me out, but if that were it, there’s no way I could

make ends meet,” he said. Ann Goodman, English senior, is in a similar position as Bourne. She has worked minimum wage jobs and said it is not enough to pay for basic expenses without some other form of income. “A lot of people work constantly for minimum wage just to make rent,” Goodman said. “Minimum wage didn’t cover my expenses. Mom paid for school.” The Department of Labor also shows the first minimum wage was enacted as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

WASHINGTON—In a stinging Democratic Party response to President Bush’s State of the Union address, freshman Sen. James Webb, D-Va, said Bush “took us into this war recklessly” and “we are now as a nation held hostage to the predictable and predicted disarray that has followed.” Webb, whose Marine son is serving in Iraq, said Bush has lost the support of the majority of the country and the military. Webb called for “not one step back from the war against international terrorism, not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos, but an immediate shift toward strong, regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities and a

formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.” The Democratic-led Senate and House of RepresenWebb tatives plan to pass nonbinding resolutions opposing the president’s troop buildup, but as of now they aren’t threatening to withhold funding for it. Before Webb was a Vietnam War hero, or President Reagan’s Navy secretary, or a best-selling author, or the Republican-turnedDemocrat who beat Sen. George Allen last year to give Democrats the last seat they needed to take control of the Senate, he was a boxer at the U.S. Naval Academy. Tuesday night he delivered his

current minimum wage but less than the first increase of $5.85. “It’s about time this happened,” she said. “If Congress doesn’t raise minimum wage, then they shouldn’t be allowed to raise their own pay.” Doggett said a CEO earns in two hours what working people earn in a year on minimum wage. “After years of doing nothing for the hardest workers,” said Doggett in his floor speech, “Let’s approve at least this modest increase.”

Bill introduced to halt profiting from use of foreign sweatshops By James Rosen McClatchy Newspapers WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at preventing American companies from profiting from the use of foreign sweatshops and other unfair labor practices abroad. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined four Democrats and independent Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont in sponsoring a bill that would allow U.S. firms to sue competitors that they believe are selling imported products made in overseas sweatshops. “Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, there’s a world out there where people are exploited-sometimes literally to the point of death-just to make a buck,” Graham said at a news conference in the Capitol. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said free-trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries have fueled the growth of sweatshop production in recent years. Dorgan cited China and Jordan as major offenders, saying their factories employ workers as young as 5, often in long shifts, brutal conditions and for little or no pay. In many cases, he said, the foreign countries violate their own poorly enforced labor laws. “There is no reason for the United States of America to allow the sale of products made in slave-labor-like conditions,” Dorgan said. About 250 million children worldwide, ages 14 or younger, work in factories, many in deplorable conditions, he said. If it becomes law, the legislation could have a major impact on large U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, which contract with foreign firms to produce many of the products they sell to Americans. Dorgan said Wal-Mart and Target have taken steps to re-

Chuck Kennedy/MCT

STOPPING THE SWEATSHOPS: Sen. Lindsey Graham R-SC talks to reporters before the weekly policy luncheon meetings September 19 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Graham, along with five other Senators, is pushing a bill aimed at stopping American companies from benefiting from sweatshop labor. duce their sale of such goods. In one instance, he said, WalMart canceled its contract with a Chinese factory after delivering three warnings that went unheeded. The Chinese firm then hired a consultant who helped it secure phony documents that falsely showed that the company had eliminated its sweatshops. Dorgan moved similar legislation last year, but it drew only five co-sponsors, all Democrats, and died in the Republicancontrolled Congress. Dorgan predicted that with Graham on board — and Democrats now running Congress — the measure has better prospects. “This is a pretty weighty co-sponsor,” Dorgan said of Graham as the two senators laughed. “I mean, we’re not talking about an insignificant co-sponsor. This is a big deal to us.”

Freshman senator sends hard-hitting blows to Bush after State of the Union address By Margaret Talev McClatchy Newspapers

The rate was 25 cents an hour and only covered employees engaged in some form of interstate commerce. “The last time the minimum wage was this low, Elvis was singing Heartbreak Hotel,” said Doggett in a speech to the House. “But these days it is the poor working folks who have the heartbreak when the minimum wage is not even close to being a living wage.” Starrak said she is looking forward an increase in pay. She presently makes more than the

harshest blows against the war in Iraq. But he also jabbed at other openings, saying that now that Democrats control Congress for the first time in Bush’s presidency, they’ll hold him to deliver on promises to improve public education, health care, the plight of Hurricane Katrina survivors

and economic conditions for the working class. Invoking the legacies of two past Republican presidents— Theodore Roosevelt for taking on corporate robber barons and Dwight D. Eisenhower for ending the Korean War — Webb challenged Bush to follow their examples.

Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin joined Dorgan, Graham and Sanders in backing the bill. The measure would allow an American firm to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that one of its competitors was selling products made in sweatshops. If the FTC determined that the complaint was valid, the agency would issue an order prohibiting the import of products from the offending foreign firm. U.S. customs agents would enforce the law, assessing violators fines of $10,000 per offense. American companies also could sue competitors in federal court to seek injunctions blocking such imports, along with punitive damages. Graham said many U.S. firms are trying to foster fair labor

“I

f you’re a business person engaged in exploiting people to build up market share, I hope you get fined, I hope you get sued.” —Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

practices abroad but those that encourage sweatshop production should be punished. “If you’re a business person engaged in exploiting people to build up market share, I hope you get fined, I hope you get sued,” Graham said. “That’s not the way to build up an economy. That’s not the way to have global trade, and it’s not in the best interests of America.”

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