Time to Build America

From the AFL-CIO

America’s working people spoke loud and clear at the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis by demanding a massive infrastructure plan for a better, brighter and more prosperous future.

The right plan will create millions of good jobs, increase long-term growth, make America globally competitive, improve Americans’ quality of life and protect our health.

The payoff in economic growth that comes from every single dollar of federal money invested in America’s infrastructure is $2 because of increased competitiveness and productivity.

President Trump’s empty plan lacks the dollars needed to transform our aging and crumbling infrastructure into something capable of driving our economy forward for generations to come.


“President Trump has rightly noted the urgency and scale of America’s infrastructure crisis, and he has an opportunity to fix it,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Unfortunately, today’s proposal relies more on accounting gimmicks and Wall Street investors than on a new federal commitment.”

The AFL-CIO and our affiliates will continue to work with Congress to craft legislation that achieves these goals in a bipartisan way.

If our nation’s leaders are serious about building America, they need to step up with trillions of dollars in new federal funding that supports America’s jobs, America’s resources and America’s workers.

And they need to do so while upholding high labor standards, good wages and safe worksites.

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Posted In: From AFL-CIO, 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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