Progressive Briefing for Tuesday, October 2

Amazon adopts $15 minimum wage, California bans animal-tested cosmetics and becomes first state to require women on corporate boards, and more.

Image Credit: Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

California becomes 1st state to require women on corporate boards

California will be the first state to require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday, requires public companies whose principal executive offices are located in California to comply by the end of 2019. The minimum is two female directors if the company has five directors on its board, or three women if it has seven directors by the close of 2021.

The bill was sponsored by state Sens. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Toni Atkins. “We are not going to ask any more,” Jackson said in August in a floor speech on the bill, the Los Angeles Times reported. “We are tired of being nice. We’re tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it’s going to benefit the economy. It’s going to benefit each of these companies.”

California bans animal-tested cosmetics from the market

California just became the first state to ban the sale of animal-tested cosmetic after Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that stands against animal testing. The “groundbreaking” legislation “prohibits the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals,” a press release from the Human Society stated.

The bill (SB1249), which will go into effect on January 1, 2020, was backed by the Human Society, and HSLF and sponsored by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation, as well as cosmetics company LUSH. According to the Human Society, “every year rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs suffer and are killed in tests to assess the safety of cosmetics, a practice that is cruel and unnecessary.”

99 percent of seabirds will have plastic in their guts within decades

The world’s plastic problem may seem vast and incalculable, but its footprint has actually been measured. In a sweeping 2015 study, researchers calculated that 9 billion tons of the material have been made, distributed and disposed in fewer than 70 years. That’s an astonishing figure, but it’s also one that’s hard to picture. Perhaps a better way to illustrate the problem of plastics is by looking at the damage that can be caused by a single drinking straw.

In 2015, a team of marine biologists in Costa Rica pried a plastic straw from the nose of a male olive ridley sea turtle. Footage of the excruciating, bloody extraction was posted online and viewed by millions of people around the globe. The video is powerful not only because it suggests the pervasiveness of plastics and shows the harm it can inflict on a vulnerable species, but it also strikes a much deeper chord within: shame.

‘We listened to our critics’: Caving to massive pressure from workers and Bernie Sanders, Amazon hikes minimum wage to $15 an hour

After months of intense public pressure from progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and company employees who shared their harrowing stories of low pay, long hours, and brutal warehouse conditions, Amazon announced on Tuesday that it is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. workers by next month.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos said in a statement, openly acknowledging that the move came in response to widespread outrage over the trillion-dollar company’s poverty wages, which have forced thousands of workers to rely on food stamps to survive.

While Bezos insisted that Amazon is “excited” to implement the wage hike – which will benefit more than 350,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers – commentators were quick to note that the ultra-billionaire CEO is not raising wages out of the kindness of his heart.


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