This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work with a special feature for Workers Independent News.
On July 1st 2016, 14 US cities states and counties, plus the District of Columbia raised their minimum wage. They raised it from everything from 10.50 and hour all the way up to 15.00 an hour. Some raises go into effect immediately, others are stretched out over the next 2 or 3 years. They deserve our acknowledgement. They have responded, or that is, their leaderships have, to the demand of working people over the last several years for 15.00 an hour minimums so let me mention them to you.
Two of them are states, Maryland and Oregon. One of them is capital of our country, Washington D.C. One of them is a county, Los Angeles county in California. And the other 11 are cities. They include Chicago, 8 cities in California, and 2 in Kentucky. Congratulations, you have done something that should have been done long ago, you have made a decent income at least within reach of most of your people, you have maintained the promise that the United States makes to people of giving them something in the way of a job about which they can entertain the so called ‘American Dream’.
But the congratulations for the few who have responded to the pressure from the below has to be matched by a criticism of those who haven’t, first and foremost the Federal Government. The minimum wage as the Federal level remains 7.25 an hour. It hasn’t changed since 2009, even though every year since then the cost of living has gone up, but in fact our leaders, conservative Republicans alongside conservative Democrats haven’t seen fit to take the minimum step of increasing the minimum wage at the Federal level just to keep up with the standard in living.
It is an outrage to get 14,500 a year if you do 40 hours of work a week for 50 weeks at $7.25. It’s a scandal, it’s a shame it is long overdue for a change.
This is Richard Wolff for Democracy at Work, and a special project for Workers Independent News.