The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25/hour for years. A minimum wage earner's real purchasing power is worth 25% less today than 50 years ago.
Many states and cities have recognized the inadequacy of this wage rate and have raised local wages. But until we raise the federal minimum wage, millions of workers in other states are left behind.
The Raise the Wage Act, introduced by Senators. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in 2017, would raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024, after which it would ensure automatic adjustments based on median wages. It would also gradually eliminate the tipped minimum wage to give all workers one fair wage. (The current lower wage for some service workers leaves them especially vulnerable to wage theft and wage insecurity.) Unfortunately, it's been stuck in committee for over a year.
Over 40 million workers would benefit from this legislation either directly or indirectly. The benefited workers are disproportionately workers of color and women. A significant portion of them works in the food system.
Raising the wage would also benefit others in the economic system. Millions of workers with increased purchasing power would be putting more money back into the economy and local communities. Products that are organic and fair trade and carry a premium would be more accessible to more people.
Millions of low-wage workers and their children currently live in poverty despite working long hours. Raising the wage is not only the fair and right thing to do, it would provide a ripple effect throughout the economy and communities.