We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage

John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO


Something is very wrong when Congress can vote itself NINE raises while failing to increase the $5.15 an hour minimum wage since 1997. Congressional inaction has pushed the value of the minimum wage to its lowest level since 1955—a 51 year low!

The disregard in which leaders of the current Congress hold working families has rarely been on greater display than in today’s defeat of Sen. Kennedy’s “Fair Minimum Wage Act."

Republican leaders have the nerve to try to sneak in poison pill provisions that weaken and eliminate the wage and hour protections workers currently have. They tried to don a political fig leaf with a smaller increase, but could not resist adding measures that would have stripped overtime and minimum wage protections from more than seven million workers and undermined the 40 hour workweek. Fortunately, that cynical move failed.

Full-time work at the minimum wage is not enough to keep even a small family out of poverty. And when the wage floor rises, all workers benefit.

Republicans should come out of the shadows and support a straightforward minimum wage increase that will give workers the raise they deserve, not one that provides political cover.

An increase to $7.25 is the right thing to do, and America’s working families are counting on it.