Tomorrow, thousands of hardworking Americans will gather in in dozens of cities across the U.S. to call on Congress and low-wage employers to increase the nation's minimum wage. The actions come just ahead of a scheduled U.S. House vote later this month on a measure to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2%.
At a moment when Americans are struggling to make ends meet - not to mention get ahead - Congress's decision to call this vote is just the latest example of how out-of touch right-wing lawmakers are with the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.
Nearly 4 million workers earn wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or $15,080 a year. And today, the average minimum wage worker is older and more experienced, yet when you consider inflation, they are earning far less than their counterparts did in 1968.
These workers, many of whom are supporting families on poverty-level wages, need a raise.
Let's be clear - this dichotomy, the notion that while Americans struggle to get by on the ever-eroding minimum wage, some politicians insist that the wealthy need more tax breaks - is not lost on the thousands of working people who will rally tomorrow. A hard day's work should be valued by our elected officials, not overshadowed by a rabid drive to protect tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations no matter the cost to our economy, communities and families.
We hear stories of working people struggling to support their families and to get by on wages close to or at the federal minimum every day.
This is the story of people like Prince Jackson, a security guard at JFK airport in New York City, who ensures the safety of passengers at one of the nation's busiest airports, and makes just $8 per hour. To make ends meet, he rents a room and volunteers at his church in exchange for meals. He says an increase in the minimum wage would help pay for housing and maybe allow him to send a few extra dollars to his son in college.
Now, more than ever, policymakers must have to take action, and do so on behalf of ordinary Americans. Working people want concrete solutions to growing income disparity, not more rhetoric about how tax cuts for the rich will eventually trickle down to the rest of us. We've tried that, and we know that the "trickle-down" approach does not work.
Tomorrow in dozens of cities across California, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin, working people will:
- Challenge companies like Wal-Mart, Target, McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts and Toys R Us to pay their workers just, living wages.
- They will point out that while workers scrape by on $7.25, CEOs of companies like these saw a 725% increase in pay over the last 30 years.
- They will call on Congress to support Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller's (D-CA) legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $9.80 an hour and index it to inflation.
- And they will call on lawmakers to make sure we all pay our fair share in taxes.
It's past time for Congress to stop catering to the whims of the 1% and start working for the rest of America. Join us and take action.