About That Raise...

From the AFL-CIO

Eleven years ago today, Congress passed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which was the last time federal politicians raised pay for those who work the hardest for the least. Since then, the value of the minimum wage has dipped 10 percent because of inflation, while the earnings of the country’s wealthiest earners have continued to soar.

America’s working families are united behind an agenda to raise pay, so nobody who works full-time will live in poverty.

A national worker-led movement to raise pay has been gaining momentum for years because we need better wages to live and for our communities to thrive. Yet politicians in Congress have not answered the call and instead have rigged the rules of our economy against us.

We want a $15 minimum wage because nobody who works full-time should live in poverty.

We want the freedom to join in union with our co-workers to negotiate with our employers for fair pay and benefits.

We want working family champions who will work with us to write new economic rules, so our families and our communities can thrive.

Rising pay creates a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, growing consumer demand and greater business investment, which fuels a race to the top.

Working people want a fair economy with good pay and benefits and a secure retirement, and we’ll organize and mobilize to win it.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder