Yesterday, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller from California introduced legislation to increase the federal minimum wage. This is an exciting time, and we’re happy to support this legislation proposing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The bill also includes a crucial proposal to index the federal minimum wage according to inflation on a regular basis. This would assure that even as the cost of living increases over time, the minimum wage would increase too in order to keep pace with those costs. Though $10.10 certainly falls well below a genuine living wage, it’s a step in the right direction, and the indexing provision would be a great victory.
It’s likely that each of us has neighbors, family and friends who struggle to support themselves and their families on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. This is simply impossible, and it is an affront to their dignity and a dismissal of their contribution to our communities and economy. Their labor provides us with the goods and services to which we’re accustomed; it maintains and energizes the businesses which employ them. The proposed increase would have a tremendous impact on working families who struggle daily to meet their basic living expenses, like food and shelter. And it would provide a stimulus for local economies – the communities in which the workers live.
Similar legislation is under consideration in some states as well, including New York where the Labor-Religion Coalition has been hard at work in Albany and across the state mobilizing faith leaders and activists to appeal to state legislators and to Governor Cuomo to raise the state minimum wage to at least $9.00 an hour with indexing.
Last night the Labor-Religion Coalition began its annual 40 hour fast for worker justice. This year members of the coalition and their supporters around the state will remember their neighbors who work so hard for so little. They remember the dignity of those workers and their families, which remains uncompromised and certain.
We’re looking forward to the coming months, and we are hopeful that the efforts of workers and their advocates will ensure the passage of this state bill and the federal legislation. Join IWJ in asking Congress to pass Senator Harkin’s minimum wage bill. Let’s work together to ensure that all workers have sufficient income to support their families.