Senate to Vote on Minimum Wage Today!

THE ISSUE

After nearly two weeks of debate, the United States Senate is prepared to vote on final passage of legislation already passed by the US House 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, which is being championed by Senators Harry Reid (NV), Edward Kennedy (MA) and Arlen Specter (PA) currently enjoys bi-partisan support in the Senate.

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. It is past time to pass an increase in the minimum wage; we must urge every member of the US Senate to support this bill when it comes before them on the floor of the Senate TOMORROW MORNING and to reject any amendments that may weaken worker protections, include excessive tax breaks or challenge existing health care protections.

THE MESSAGE

  • S. 2, "The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007" would increase the current minimum wage, $5.15 an hour, by $2.10 an hour over a 2-year period. This would occur in three, seventy-cent increments: the first six months after enactment of the bill, the second a year later and the third a year after that.
  • This increase would benefit an estimated 13 million Americans: 84% of them are adults over the age of 20 and 60% of them work full time. Nearly half of them are married or have children. Over half of them are women, and almost 40% are ethnic or racial minority Americans.
  • Minimum wage employees working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. In fact, poverty has almost doubled among full-time, year-round workers since the late 1970's, and a low minimum wage is part of the problem.
  • History clearly shows that raising the minimum wage has not had a negative impact on jobs, employment, or inflation. Rather, since the last increase in the minimum wage in 1996 and 1997, the economy has continued to grow.

THE ACTION WE NEED YOU TO TAKE

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