Issued January 26, 2021
San Francisco, Calif. - Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry released the following statement today as Representative Bobby Scott and Senator Sanders announced the introduction of the Raise the Wage Act:
“The Raise the Wage Act is a huge step forward in deciding to end poverty work in America. Fast-food workers ignited a movement when they boldly walked off the job demanding $15 an hour and the right to come together in a union eight years ago. That first strike led to action after action, and millions more workers across the U.S. economy linked arms to call on corporations and our elected leaders to hear their demand for higher wages, a call that is more urgent today than ever before.
“The impact COVID-19 has had on working people has made it crystal clear that our economy is broken for the millions of people who can’t afford to provide for their families. That is most true for the Black and brown essential workers who have kept us safe and fed throughout this health crisis.
“In order to truly recover from COVID-19 we need to pass the Raise the Wage Act. Due to generations of racism in education, healthcare and the workforce people of color are more likely to work in the low-paying jobs on the frontline of the pandemic and be hardest hit by its economic effects. They are risking their lives, and dying at the highest rates, to keep our country running. We cannot call them essential while allowing large corporations and industries to pay them so little that they are forced to rely on food stamps, public housing and the emergency room for healthcare. We can begin to right these wrongs by ensuring everyone makes at least $15 an hour, strengthening our entire country in the process by moving us toward racial equity.
“Essential workers have been demanding, loudly and clearly, that they need to be respected, protected and paid. We urge members of Congress to heed their call and pass the Raise the Wage Act so that millions of working people can be paid enough to lead a decent life, provide for their family and build a better future during the pandemic and beyond.”