Monday, January 29, 2007
As I've traveled the country, I've talked to thousands of people who work one or more jobs and still struggle to keep food on their tables and make ends meet. Righting this inexcusable wrong is a core goal of our work together.
In less than 72 hours, the Senate will likely vote on a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. It's a long overdue change that will immediately help over 13 million people, many living at or below the edge of poverty. But it will only happen if you speak up.
Last week, the Senate Republicans filibustered a clean version of the proposal, and now they're trying to force Democrats to either pass billions of dollars more in corporate tax breaks or give up raising the minimum wage.
The only way to beat the special interests is to prove to every Senator that the American people are watching. It's time to tell the Senate that American workers deserve a raise - no strings attached:
Last year I worked with many of you and with our partners to help pass ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage in six states - so I know first hand how much support this has among working Americans. And I also know it's the right thing to do.
There's no doubt the minimum wage is too low: a full-time minimum wage worker brings in just $10,712 a year, less than half of the poverty level for a family of four.
There's no doubt it's been too long: in the ten years since the minimum wage was raised -- the longest delay in history -- the cost of living has gone up 25%.
And there's no doubt a higher minimum wage is good for the economy: studies show that cities and counties with higher minimum wages maintain or even increase employment levels.
The only doubt is whether the corporate lobbyists and their Republican allies will be able to dilute and delay the proposal at the expense of American workers.
If we raise our voice now, you and I can help make sure that doesn't happen.
Creating the working society we believe in -- where every full-time job
provides the dignity of a decent income and a springboard to future
opportunity -- will require bold fixes for the ways our system treats
workers. These include shifting the tax burden off the backs of wage
earners, providing full child care benefits for working families,
defending the basic rights of workers to organize -- and raising the
It can happen, but only if we seize the big moments and speak out for what is right.