The nation’s middle class has been shrinking over the past three decades because of “misguided policies” in Washington making it harder to remain in or to enter the middle class, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said on the monthly Faith Advocates for Jobs call May 10.
Harkin, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Rebuild America Act—a comprehensive bill that creates jobs and rebuild the economy. The bill would modernize the nation’s infrastructure creating millions of new jobs, expand manufacturing, provide more job training for workers and strengthen economic security for working people.
The bill also would raise the minimum wage, require paid sick days and expand overtime pay coverage, three of the top priorities for FAJ and IWJ.
Jen Kern, minimum wage coordinator for the National Employment Law Project (NELP) said raising the minimum wage is critical to reviving the economy because low-wage workers would spend the increase. The economy needs an increase in consumer spending, she said.
Kern said 18 states and D.C. have raised the minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour and seven states have eliminated the paltry $2.13 minimum wage for tip workers (like waiters and parking lot attendants). NELP is organizing the latest research, media coverage and campaign news on action to raise the minimum wage.
Both Harkin and Kern urged those concerned about creating good jobs to make their voices heard, especially in an election year. Responding to a caller’s question, Harkin urged people of faith to attend congressional town hall meetings and make sure their representatives know that people are watching to see what they do to create jobs. He called on the faith community to include issues on jobs in congregations’ newsletters and group discussions.
“Let’s link our arms together and make our society more fair and more just for all,” Harkin said.