NAACP-SUPPORTED BILL TO INCREASE THE MINIMUM WAGE PASSES U.S. SENATE

THE MESSAGE

After nearly two weeks of debate, the United States Senate voted yesterday, 94 yeas to 3 nays, in support of legislation to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over a two year period.

Specifically, this bill (S.2) would help as many as 13 million Americans and their families by requiring that 60 days after enactment, the minimum wage would increase from its current level of $5.15 an hour to $5.85 an hour; one year later it would go up to $6.55 an hour, and another year later the minimum wage would increase to $7.25 an hour. The bill passed after nearly two weeks of debate, and while we were able to beat back several amendments which would have included excessive tax breaks for big corporations, or threatened existing worker protections, some tax breaks were added which are intended to help small businesses. Thus, the House and Senate must work out the differences between the two bills (the House bill contained no tax breaks at all) before a final bill can be sent to the President for his signature.

A fair increase in the minimum wage is long overdue. Real wages are actually declining for the first time in more than a decade, while the price of everything from health care, gasoline and food are rising rapidly. At the current minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, a worker who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year earns $10,712. This is almost $6,000 below the poverty level for a family of 3. An average CEO earns more before lunchtime in one day than a minimum wage worker earns all year.

It is estimated that an increase in the minimum wage, as proposed by S. 2, would benefit roughly 7.7 million American women, 3.4 million American parents and 4.7 million people of color.

It has been more than 9 years since the last increase in the minimum wage ? the longest period in the history of the law. Thus the NAACP will push for a speedy settlement of the differences between the two bills and a quick enactment of the much over-due increase.

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