Action: Minimum Wage Equity

Written on: January 10, 2019

The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart signed a letter in support of The Raise the Wage Act of 2019 which was introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Patty Murray (WA), and Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA), Mark Pocan (WI) and Stephanie Murphy (FL). This is in line with Principle III of the Earth Charter, Social and Economic Justice. Use THIS LINK to read the letter

According to the Economic Policy Institute, if enacted, this legislation would:

  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $8.55 this year and increase it over the next five years until it reaches $15 an hour in 2024;
  • After 2024, adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with growth in the typical worker’s wages;
  • Phase out the outdated subminimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a meager $2.13 since 1991;
  • Sunset the much-criticized ability of employers to pay workers with disabilities a subminimum wage through certificates issued by Department of Labor; and,
  • Phase out the subminimum wage for workers under the age of 20.

According to 2017 estimates from the Economic Policy Institute, this Act will deliver long-overdue raises to a large segment of the workforce: more than 1 in 4 workers, 90 percent of whom are over the age of 20. The average age of workers who would get a raise is 36, nearly half have some years of college education, and 20 percent hold associate degrees or higher. In fact, those who work year-round would see a raise on the order of $3,500 a year, which is enough to make a tremendous difference in the life of a preschool teacher, bank teller, or fast-food worker who today struggles to get by on around $20,000 per year.

More than 27 percent are working parents with children, and half have family incomes of less than $40,000 per year. Women make up nearly 56 percent of the workers who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage, which would be instrumental in helping to close the gender wage gap. Raising the minimum wage to $15 would also significantly benefit workers of color, with 40 percent of African American workers and 34 percent of Latinos seeing a pay increase once this law goes into effect.

These are the frontline workers who make America run — yet due to the erosion of the real value of the minimum wage over the last half century, they are struggling even as our economy enjoys a solid recovery.

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