Dems, union members rally for wage boost

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) held a rally with union activists Thursday to press Republicans to back a minimum wage hike.

Reid and Pelosi joined Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers at the Capitol Visitor Center. The Capitol rally concluded a 10-state bus tour sponsored by Americans United for Change, a coalition of labor groups, including the AFL-CIO and AFSCME.

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Reid told reporters that he is not part of the negotiations led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to raise the federal minimum wage to less than the $10.10 endorsed by President Obama. Centrist Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Tom Carper (Del.) have expressed interest in a possible compromise. Not a single Republican has endorsed the $10.10 wage floor.

Reid recalled that in his youth he often worked for less than the minimum wage.

“I wish I could have earned minimum wage in those days as a boy and a young man, but now the laws are better than they were, they’re enforced better,” he said. 

“Twenty-eight million people would get a raise,” he added. “This is really a bill that is a no-brainer and should pass.” 

Pelosi emphasized a minimum wage boost would help women.

“We have an initiative, when women succeed, Americans succeed,” she said. “Over sixty percent of the people making minimum wage are women and they’re not teenagers. They’re averaging like 30 years old and many of them have kids.”

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, who have sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, also attended the event.