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Fair Minimum Wage Act

Paycheck Fairness, Part II — Raise the Minimum Wage!

Yesterday, a majority of the Senate voted to proceed to debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and make it easier for women to ensure that their employers are paying them fairly. A vote on the merits of this bill is long overdue, and Senate passage would be a critically important step forward.

But the Paycheck Fairness Act is not the only bill that could help close the gap between women’s and men’s earnings — which hasn’t budged in a decade, as women working full time, year round are still typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. One reason for this persistent wage gap is that women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs: for starters, they make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers. Another bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would boost pay for these workers by gradually raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages to keep up with inflation.  Read more »

How a Bill Doesn't Become a Law — Schoolhouse Rock Revisited

A few years ago I was teaching 4th grade Social Studies. About a week into the government unit I did what any self-respecting Social Studies teacher would do – show “I’m Just a Bill,” the 1975 Schoolhouse Rock classic tale of how a bill becomes a law.

The video tells the tale of a “sad little scrap of paper” – Bill – making the arduous journey to becoming a law. The journey is long, but simple. Some folks shared an idea for a new law with their Congressman, he agreed and introduced Bill who gets stuck in committee for a bit (at this point Bill frets that he might die!), Bill passes the House and then the Senate, narrowly escapes a veto, and is finally signed into law by the President!

But lately it feels like I was teaching my students the wrong thing. I mean that’s ‘technically’ the way a bill becomes a law (and all a ten-year-old really needs to understand) but there are so many additional roadblocks to quality legislation. Read more »

Listen Up: States Continue to Pave the Way on Minimum Wage Hikes

 With public polling showing remarkably strong support for increasing the minimum wage, legislators around the country are pushing to raise the wage – and they’re making it happen. We’re only nine days into April, and already, this month is one for the history books. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the states:

  • Just last week, West Virginia’s governor signed into law a bill that will boost wages for 120,000 West Virginians. The minimum wage is now set to rise from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016. Women make up about two-thirds [PDF] of the state’s minimum wage workers.
  • On Monday, Maryland’s legislature sent a bill to the governor to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2018, making the Free State only the second state to set the $10.10 figure called for in the pending federal Fair Minimum Wage Act. (Connecticut beat Maryland to become the first state with a $10.10 minimum wage last month.) Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced he’ll sign the bill, and for the state’s minimum wage workers – more than six in ten of whom are women – an increase can’t come soon enough. 

The Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act - Perfect Together

You know what I love?  When two things go together perfectly.  Cake and ice cream.  Wine and cheese.  Chocolate and…well, OK, chocolate pretty much goes perfectly with everything.

Two bills that are expected to see some action in Congress this month, The Fair Minimum Wage Act and Paycheck Fairness go together perfectly, too.  That’s because they’re both critical issues for women – and both will help women achieve fair pay.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the tipped minimum cash wage from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index these wages to keep pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help women achieve fair pay: Read more »

The State of States and Equal Pay in 2014

This Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day—the day women would have to work until (in addition to working all of 2013!) to make the same amount of money that men made in 2013. We all know that nationally, women working full time, year round typically make 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the figure hasn’t budged in a decade. You should also know that the wage gap is even worse for women of color—African-American women working full time, year round make only 64 cents, and Hispanic women make only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

The national wage gap figures grab headlines but what’s less talked about is the variability in the wage gap by state. For example, in D.C. women working full time, year round make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men (which puts DC at #1 in terms of women’s pay equity), but in Wyoming women make only 64 percent of what men make (#51).

States that have smaller wage gaps for women overall don’t necessarily have smaller wage gaps for all groups of women, and there are some stark differences for women of color. Again looking at our nation’s capital, African-American women in D.C. make only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, which makes DC the 4th worst state in the country for African-American women’s pay equity. Similarly, in California women overall make 84 percent of what men make (putting California at #6 in women’s pay equity), but Hispanic women in California make only 44 percent of white, non-Hispanic men—making California the 2nd worst state in the country for Hispanic women’s pay equity.  Read more »

Raising the Minimum Wage Promotes Equal Opportunity for Women, People of Color

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just about making ends meet. It’s about equality.

Women and people of color are disproportionately represented in minimum wage work, and an increase in the federal minimum wage could make a huge difference in the lives of these workers and their families. It could mean lifting families out of poverty, providing more stable base incomes for low-wage workers, and taking steps to close the wage gap. But it all starts with action.

Read more »

White House: Raising the Minimum Wage and Tipped Minimum Wage Helps Close Wage Gap, Reduces Poverty

A new report  issued by the White House this morning provides more compelling evidence that raising the minimum wage is critical for advancing fair pay and economic security for women. The report evaluates the impact of the Fair Minimum Wage Act proposed by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA) and, like the NWLC analysis of the proposal, finds that women would especially benefit from raising the minimum wage, now just $7.25 an hour, to $10.10 per hour, increasing the tipped minimum cash wage – now just $2.13 an hour – to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing these wages for inflation.

Here are some key findings from the report: Read more »

Feeling the Love: Another Big Week for the Minimum Wage

Need a date this Valentine’s Day? The minimum wage does. Americans United for Change just launched a campaign that focuses less on roses and chocolates and more on Speaker of the House John Boehner (not your traditional Valentine’s Day sweet talk, I admit). The goal? Setting a date for the House to vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. And this isn’t the only love minimum wage campaigns are getting this week. At the national and state level, efforts to raise the minimum wage are picking up steam.

Here in D.C., Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) marked a cold and snowy 2/13 with events and social media activity to remind Capitol Hill that the federal tipped minimum wage has been set at $2.13 since 1991 – overwhelmingly affecting restaurant servers, the largest group of tipped workers (71 percent of whom are women). On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to join other advocates to watch President Obama sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers, while calling for passage of the federal bill to raise the wage for all workers. “America deserves a raise,” he said – and it’s clear that legislators around the country agree. Read more »

Delaware Passes Minimum Wage Increase

Delaware is indeed a small wonder.

During a week of much minimum wage excitement, Delaware state lawmakers did something pretty remarkable: A raise to the state’s minimum wage passed the state House and the state Senate and received the governor’s signature – all in one day.

Of course, advocates had been working to raise the minimum wage for some time, but Delaware’s minimum wage earners, of whom nearly two-thirds are women, are now set to see their hourly pay rise from $7.25 to $7.75 per hour on June 1, and to $8.25 starting on June 1, 2015.

Some lawmakers who worked on the bill say this is a step in the right direction but that the wage increase doesn’t go far enough. Passage of the federal Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the same rate workers on new federal services contracts must be paid under President Obama’s recently announced executive order. Read more »

The President - And the American People - Call for a Higher Minimum Wage

Did you catch the President’s State of the Union address last night?  I’m glad I did. He set forth an ambitious but pragmatic agenda to reverse the trends of widening economic inequality and stalling wage growth and upward mobility. Many of the solutions he proposed – like expanding access to affordable, quality pre-K and promoting more family-friendly workplaces – would particularly benefit women. The same is true of another policy for which the President advocated forcefully: raising the minimum wage.

As the President observed, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour “is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan [took office].” Full-time minimum wage earnings amount to just $14,500 in a year, leaving a mother with two children thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Today’s low minimum wage especially harms women and their families, since women are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers – and about two-thirds of tipped workers like restaurant servers, for whom the federal minimum cash wage has been frozen at just $2.13 an hour for 23 years.

Last night, President Obama committed to using his executive authority to advance the minimum wage by issuing an order requiring that workers on new federal services contracts be paid at least $10.10 an hour, “because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” And he called on business leaders and state and local governments to do what they can to raise wages, too. But he also recognized that only an act of Congress can ensure that the minimum wage is raised for all workers across the country.
Read more »