The Campaign for a Fair Minimum Wage Act
by Sung-ok Lee
On October 19, during the first session of the 109th Congress, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), was voted down. Had Congress voted for this Act, the federal minimum wage would have increased to $7.25. Now, more than ever, we need to mount an active campaign to have The Fair Minimum Wage Act re-introduced in the second session of the 109th Congress in January, 2006.
Send a letter to your Congressperson for a Fair Federal Minimum Wage Act! Sign this Letter !
United Methodist Women calls on members of Congress to enact legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25. We call on all members of the faith community to participate in the Federal Fair Minimum Wage campaign that Interfaith Worker Justice, a partner organization, is initiating. The campaign begins with a sign-on letter to members of Congress to support The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005 (HR 2429 and S1062) that increases the federal minimum wage to $7.25. The campaign calls on participants to write to or meet with key members of Congress to support this effort. [click on sign-on letter above to download a copy of a letter to members of Congress. Send signed letter to Interfaith Worker Justice as indicated on the letter.].
Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has organized for the cause of workers in low-wage jobs by urging members of religious communities to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005 that increases the federal minimum wage to $7.25. The minimum wage is not indexed to inflation; therefore, in effect, the minimum wage is actually going down every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Inflation Calculator, if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation after its peak level of $1.60 per hour in 1968, the 2004 minimum wage would have been valued at $8.69 per hour. The current wage of $5.15 an hour is immoral and is nowhere close to a livable wage. Even the currently recommended raise to $7.25 is not nearly a livable wage. The increases must come at a faster pace. An individual working 40 hours per week at the current minimum wage earns $10,712 per year, well below the poverty level for a family of three. According to 2004 data from the Children’s Defense Fund, one parent working 40 hours per week at current minimum wage earns only 40% of the estimated cost to raise two children.
Interfaith Worker Justice is initiating this campaign to be voted on at the second session of the 109th Congress (January 2006) and has prepared a toolkit to organize faith communities to urge member(s) of Congress to co-sponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005. The toolkit, which is accessible at http://www.iwj.org/actnow/min_wage.html of Interfaith Worker Justice, includes:
Scriptural Basis: Jeremiah 22:13, NRSV
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages;”
Policy Base: Poverty, The Economic Community, Social Principles
Date posted: Nov 02, 2005