In March of 2013, the Fair Minimum Wage Act was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Since then, Republicans have been fighting tooth and nail to keep it from coming to the floor of either chamber for an up-or-down vote. Why might that be? Especially when recent polls show that about 70% of Americans support the bill?
The FMWA would increase the federal minimum wage for employees to: (1) $8.20 an hour on the first day of the third month after its enactment; and (2) $9.15 an hour after one year; (3) $10.10 an hour after two years. It would also increase the minimum for tipped employees to $3.00 an hour for one year, and provide for annual adjustments thereafter.
What’s not to like? The last increase in the federal minimum wage was in 2009! Need we ask if the cost of living for low-wage earners has increased over the past 5 years?
Some Conservatives who argue against a minimum wage increase warn that it would put “upward pressure” on wages in general. Again – what’s wrong with that?? Working-class and middle-class wages have been stagnant for a long time. And that’s not because workers don’t deserve the raise. Here in Ohio, for example, worker productivity grew by nearly 67% between 1979 and 2013. But according to a recent analysis by Policy Matters Ohio, median hourly wages fell by 1.1 percent when adjusted for inflation.
(So next time Representative Jim Renacci brags about the number of jobs he and his fellow Republicans have “created” in Ohio, ask him when he might be willing to create some jobs that actually pay a living wage.)
Another argument against raising the minimum wage is that it would cause employers to lay off massive numbers of workers and scale back their businesses. But in places that HAVE increased their minimum wage – like the SeaTac community near Seattle – nothing of the sort has occurred. In fact, many are INCREASING their payrolls and launching new business initiatives!
This is a no-brainer, folks. It’s a win-win-win. Low-wage workers deserve an increase. Their families need the boost, and our economy needs their spending power. And raising the minimum wage will NOT hurt American business.
So contact your Senators and Representatives NOW. Tell them that, BEFORE CONGRESS LEAVES IN NOVEMBER FOR LAST-MINUTE ELECTION CAMPAIGNING, they need to vote for the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
If you’re not sure who your Congressional members are, or how to contact them, start here.