It’s 10.10 – And Time for a $10.10 Minimum Wage
There’s not a lot of good news coming out of D.C. these days – the federal government is still shut down, and we’re only a week away from October 17, which is the date by which the national debt ceiling must be raised for the country to keep paying its bills and avoid a catastrophic default. To date, House Republican leaders have refused to hold a vote on legislation to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling without attaching unreasonable (and unrelated) conditions, like delaying, waiving or defunding parts of the health care law (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).
But local politics is often quite a different story than national politics, and recent weeks have brought some very positive developments in our region on a critical issue: the minimum wage. This week, a D.C. councilmember joined with a number of restaurants, breweries and other local businesses to call for raising the District’s minimum wage from its current level of $8.25 per hour to $10.25 per hour within two years – and several other minimum wage proposals have recently been introduced in D.C. Nearby in Maryland, councilmembers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have introduced bills to raise their local minimum wages from $7.25 to $11.50 per hour over three years, and Governor O’Malley and state legislators have also expressed support for a statewide minimum wage increase.
The D.C. area is hardly an outlier here. Across the country in Seattle, Washington, the mayor just announced his support for a $15 minimum wage. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has called for a $10 minimum wage – the same level that California governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law for his state. California was the fourth state to pass a minimum wage increase this year, following New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Next month, New Jersey voters will get to decide whether their minimum wage will go up. And minimum wage campaigns are gearing up for 2014 in states ranging from Alaska to Massachusetts.
But some state policymakers are less supportive of a higher minimum wage (e.g., Governor Martinez of New Mexico, who vetoed a minimum wage increase passed by the state legislature earlier this year). That’s why it’s so important to raise the federal minimum wage and ensure that workers across the country are paid more fairly. The Fair Minimum Wage Act, introduced earlier this year, would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour – a level that leaves a mom with two kids thousands of dollars below the poverty line – to $10.10 per hour. The bill would also raise the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from just $2.13 an hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index both wages to keep up with inflation. These changes would especially benefit women, who are about two-thirds of both minimum wage workers and workers in tipped jobs. And the additional dollars in workers’ pockets would also boost our economy – a boost that is desperately needed in light of persistently high poverty and a sluggish recovery that is likely to be further slowed by the unnecessary fiscal crisis playing out in the Capitol.
Want to let Congress know that it’s time to move on from manufactured crises to legislation that can help women and their families get ahead – like the Fair Minimum Wage Act? Make your voice heard on Twitter! All day today, you can participate in a tweet-a-thon to show your support for a $10.10 federal minimum wage. Join me (@JulieVogtman) and @NWLC using the hashtags #RaisetheWage and #Timefor1010. This 10/10, it’s time for $10.10!
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