Contact:
Sara Lonardo, sara.lonardo@seiu.org, 202/730-7332

Issued May 25, 2017

Raise the Wage Act of 2017 would put working families on path to financial security

WASHINGTON, D. C.—Victories for working families at the state and local level, led by courageous working people, have paved the way for Thursday’s introduction of the Raise the Wage Act of 2017. Working people are on a path to $15 an hour in New York and California, in cities from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and at individual employers such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Raise the Wage Act would build on those victories to create a more secure financial future for working families during a time when self-interested politicians are rigging the system to favor greedy corporations over working moms and dads. 

The Raise the Wage Act of 2017 would also, for the first time, eliminate the subminimum wage for working people with disabilities. Doing so would help fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law 25 years ago this summer. The legislation would also eliminate the tipped minimum wage, which disproportionately hurts the wallets of women and people of color.

Many working families are putting in more hours, but still struggle to pay bills without going into debt. Increasing the federal hourly minimum wage to $15 is just one step in fixing a system rigged by politicians to put greedy corporations ahead of working families. We must also ensure their ability to join together in unions. SEIU members and their communities will not stop until working people have an opportunity to make their voice heard on the job in a union. 

"I’ve worked as a home care worker for 40 years—helping seniors and people with disabilities with their daily needs, from bathing, cleaning, using the bathroom and cooking to administering medication and wound care. I started by caring full time for my brother, who has a severe disability, after our mother passed away. I’ve devoted my life to caring for others, and my job is skilled—it requires patience, compassion and training. Yet I’ve never been paid more than $9 an hour,” said Genevieve Sneed, a home care worker from Memphis, Tenn. “I joined the Fight for $15 because a decent wage will keep good people in good jobs. I fight for myself and for the future home care workers coming behind me.”

"I started in the home care field during high school, and 20 years later, I’m still in it because I really enjoy caring for others,” said Marvette Hodge, a home care worker from Richmond, Va. “My consumers motivate me because I know how much they rely on me; but some days the low pay and lack of training and benefits make me think about leaving the profession altogether. When I entered this field 20 years ago, I made $7 an hour, and today I make $9 an hour; that’s not much of an increase over two decades. A $15 wage is about more than a dollar amount. For me, it’s also about being able to take time off to be with my growing daughters and not have the stress of making up those hours to play catch up. A good wage equals a good quality of life."

“I work at Logan Airport and I take home $11 an hour,” said Dayail Gethers, a wheelchair attendant. “That’s not enough to put peanuts on the table. I am fighting for $15 an hour and union rights so that I will have respect on the job and a decent paycheck. I never thought I would be out in the streets protesting, but I can’t survive on what I make now. The Fight for $15 has shown that when working people take action, and even risk arrest, we can win real change. Airports are a powerful symbol of what’s gone wrong for American workers and their jobs. Airport jobs used to be good. People were paid decent wages and many were part of a union, but today they look like those at McDonald’s, or in the home care or child care fields, or even in our factories and universities.”

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