Finally - A raise for minimum wage earners
After 10 years of living on $5.15 an hour, 13 million minimum wage earners are receiving a 70 cent raise. The wage will continue to increase each summer until 2009, when all minimum wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour. It's still not enough to pay for necessities, but anything is better than $5.15 an hour or 10,712 a year; the federal poverty line is $17,170. A living wage would be nice.
For the past decade, Republicans have blocked efforts to give people a decent wage because they say businesses can't afford the hike and as a result, the economy will suffer. San Francisco has proven that the opposite is true.
Check out the radio story I did about women making minimum wage in Oakland, CA.
This is from the National Organization for Women:
Today, millions of families in the United States will receive a well-deserved raise. It is the first increase to the minimum wage in almost a decade, and for many families, it may be a start to lifting themselves out of poverty.
The National Organization for Women applauds the efforts of our new leaders in Congress; because these legislators did their job, nearly 13 million U.S. workers will likely benefit from the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
NOW has worked since 1966 for economic justice, especially equal pay and fair wages for women, many of whom must work multiple jobs to support their families. Our members have lobbied hard, and we celebrated in January when 315 members of the House of Representatives voted to increase the minimum wage to $7.25. Later that month, the U.S. Senate took up the House-passed bill -- a "clean" bill that was NOT held hostage by the business community, which demanded almost $8 billion in tax giveaways. Fifty-four senators, including 5 Republicans, supported the straightforward House bill, and for that we salute them. Forty-three senators were intent on providing corporate welfare to their business cronies, and for that we will hold them accountable.
The minimum wage is a women's issue. Women are twice as likely as men to be working at minimum wage, and that rate is even higher for women of color. Almost 60 percent of the 13 million workers who would benefit from the minimum wage increase are women.
After 12 years of conservative, pro-big-business rule, we have seen the wealthy get wealthier while families barely making a living wage struggle to make ends meet. In the last 10 years, while the minimum wage stayed the same, costs for a four year public college rose 96 percent; health insurance rose 97 percent; and the price of regular gas climbed a whopping 149 percent. It is time we gave working families what is owed them so they can send their children to college, afford health care, and in turn, contribute to a growing economy.