This month, West Virginia state lawmakers in the House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly (89-5) to increase the state's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $8.00 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2015 and then to $8.75 the following year. If the legislation becomes state law, more than 100,000 workers in West Virginia would see their paychecks increase and have more money in their pockets to spend on goods and services for them and their families. Now the measure is sitting in the State Senate waiting on a vote, according to the Charleston Gazette.
"We're going to help about 100,000 West Virginia families who are going to have more expendable income," said Delegate Mike Caputo, (D-Marion). "There are so many families who live paycheck to paycheck on the minimum wage."
(He) added that he regrets it takes an act of legislation to make sure employers are paying their employees a fair wage. The bill will affect more than 100,000 West Virginians who are currently earning minimum wage, he said to the Washington Times.
Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, noted that minimum wage workers represent a diverse demographic. “We have to stop qualifying or classifying who minimum wage workers are based on age or education. People are on minimum wage and should be paid a fair wage,” she said to the Washington Times. The West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy reports that actually a majority of the beneficiaries of a minimum wage increase are adult, full-time workers who are supporting their families in moderate- to low-income households in West Virginia. Organizers with IWJ are working with the Center and the West Virginia Council of Churches to pressure the Senate to follow the lead of the House of Delegates and send the bill to the governor's desk.
The legislative session is set to end on March 8.
State senators must stand with working people and raise the minimum wage in West Virginia and index it to inflation. Lobbyists from fast-food corporations like McDonald's and state hospitality industry groups are working hard to convince lawmakers that they cannot afford an increase and that a raise would be bad for families and the economy. We know—and studies show— that these "bad for the economy" assertions are just not true. It's the workers who cannot afford NOT to get a raise.
As people of faith from diverse traditions, we share a common conviction that the dignity of work and the security of the family are intrinsic moral values. In response to our Scripture’s repeated admonitions against exploiting and oppressing workers, we believe that every job must enable those who work to support a family.
We respect the dignity of our neighbors who toil under the yoke of today's unjust minimum wage, and we call on state senators to help ease their burden by making the minimum wage a family wage and passing SB 411 raising it to $8.25 per hour and indexing it to inflation so it won't be eroded by the rising cost of living.
Can you tell state senators in West Virginia that as a person of faith you support raising the state minimum wage, and urge them to quickly remedy an injustice to minimum wage workers in West Virginia?