It is time – in fact, it is past time – to demand that Congress act to increase the minimum wage. This week, the effort to get Congress to act is accelerating.
As of late Wednesday, more than 15,000 people have signed a SignOn.org petition posted by the Campaign for America’s Future. The goal is to have several hundred thousand people calling for “the leaders of the House and Senate to allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to inflation.” (Sign the petition here.)
Also Wednesday, the House sponsor of the bill, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., announced the formation of a group of restaurant owners pledged to be advocates for a minimum wage increase, as a counterweight to the National Restaurant Association, one of the leaders of the minimum-wage-increase opposition.
The Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment organization promises “to support small and medium-sized business owners as they move towards the ‘High Road’ to profitability by raising the standards by which we do business.”
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase the current federal minimum wage, $7.25, to $10.10 in three steps over a three-year period, and then index it annually to inflation from that point forward.
The bill would make an even more significant difference for tipped workers, mostly in the restaurant industry. They currently have a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour that has not increased since 1991. Under the bill, tipped workers would earn a minimum 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
In addition to Miller’s bill in the House, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has a companion bill in the Senate.
House members have in fact had one opportunity to vote on the bill in March, in the form of a motion instructing the House to add the minimum wage increase to a workforce training bill. The motion was unanimously rejected by House Republicans. (more…)