Friday, June 23, 2006

Hold Clean on $2.10 Minimum Wage Increase, AFL-CIO Tells Members of Congress

WASHINGTON - June 23 - “There is no good reason for preventing a House vote on a clean $2.10 increase in the minimum wage,” the AFL-CIO’s legislative director said in a letter sent today to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The federal minimum wage has been frozen for nine years.

Republicans have come under increased pressure for their blockade of a minimum wage increase. Yesterday a majority of the Senate, 52 members, voted for a $2.10 increase in the minimum wage with no “poison pills” attached to prevent its passage, and “it is widely believed that a majority of the House also supports the $2.10 increase,” the letter notes. But there have also been hints that the Republican House leadership is considering a lesser increase with poison pill provisions designed to provoke opposition.

A 2005 study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that a lesser minimum wage increase would affect a minimal percentage of the population and fail to restore the purchasing power of the minimum wage. A second study released jointly by EPI and the Center on Budget and Policy Priority just this week showed that the purchasing power of the minimum wage has now hit a 51-year low.

Samuels pointed out that the $2.10 increase is a moral imperative in light of the $3,300 congressional pay raise cleared in the House last week.

“Increasing the minimum wage is a statement about how we as a society value hard work,” Samuel wrote, “half-measures designed to benefit as few workers as possible are simply inadequate.”

“There is simply no excuse for using parliamentary maneuvers and ‘poison pills’ to prevent a clean vote on a clean $2.10 increase in the minimum wage,” he concluded.


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