This Labor Day, President Obama has the opportunity to defend the economic rights of millions of Americans by supporting a substantial increase in the minimum wage.
Presently $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage is inadequate. The purchasing power of a worker earning minimum wage in 1968 is equal to $10-11 today. That means, at $7.25 an hour, workers today have less wage power than workers in 1968.
Consider that an individual working full-time and taking no vacation or sick time will earn only $1,160 per month. Housing costs alone in a neighborhood in my hometown of Cleveland can easily approach most of the income of a full-time employee earning minimum wage. What about food? What about transportation? What about health care? What about providing for children?
The minimum wage is not a living wage. Taxpayers, through financing a range of social programs, end up subsidizing corporations who do not pay a living wage. Every worker should be paid enough to meet the essential needs of his or her family. Economically secure families make stronger communities which in turn strengthens our nation. This Labor Day let's show that our nation values families by increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
We know that some corporations won't like it. If corporations don't place value on the dignity, happiness or well being of the American workers, then government must step in to protect workers' economic well being. Workers are more than a line item in a corporate budget. The United States of America must be more than a profit-seeking machine. I am not suggesting a government handout, but a hand-up, enabling workers to climb out of a fiscal ditch.
The wealth in this nation has been accelerating upwards, leaving behind too many people who helped build America. The wealth that is produced by working Americans must be accessible to working Americans through an increase in the minimum wage. The Federal Reserve is incapable of stirring the economy, which is another reason to act. With unemployment at at least 8.3 percent, an increase in the minimum wage will stimulate the overall economy
Labor Day 2012. There can be no better way to honor the American worker then to support an increase in the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $10 per hour. Workers deserve a raise. America deserves a raise. The President can show his recognition of workers by supporting H.R. 5901, Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012, which would increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour. That would be one Happy Labor Day.