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Burger: Minimum Wage Increase is an Important Step toward Restoring the American Dream

Monday, January 9, 2006

Change to Win Unions to Continue to Fight for a Livable Wage for all Workers

WASHINGTON, DC -- Change to Win Chair Anna Burger sent a letter to members of Congress today urging passage of legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage. Burger called H.R. 2 an "important step in the right direction" that would immediately give a lift to over 5.6 million workers, but acknowledged more is needed in order to make achieving the American Dream a reality for low-wage workers.

In the mid-term elections last November, Change to Win union members were instrumental in helping raise the minimum wage in all six states where legislation appeared on the ballot.

The text of the letter appears below.

January 9, 2007

To All U.S. Senators and Representatives:

RE: Please Support a Minimum Wage Increase

Change to Win, which represents seven unions with six million members, urges you to vote in favor of H.R. 2, legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. 

This legislation is essential to bring some measure of fairness and justice to millions of Americans who toil at the bottom of the wage scale. Nearly 6 million workers -- 80% of whom are adults -- work at the minimum wage, which is why so many must work two and three jobs to pay the rent and buy food for their family. That is not the kind of economy we should be building in America.

Because Congress has not increased the minimum wage since 1997, it buys 20% less today than it did a decade ago. Yet, over those ten years congressional salaries have increased by $31,600 -- almost three times the amount a minimum wage worker earns in a year. For the sake of hard-working families and your constituents, I urge you to support a clean increase in the minimum wage to help those least able to protect themselves.

We are pleased that this legislation will be considered without being tied to unrelated and unhelpful measures, such as Association Health Plans, or inequitable policies, such as tax cuts for the wealthy and for businesses. There is no reason that the incomes of the poorest Americans should be held hostage to favors being sought by special interests.

If we want Americans to work, we need to make work pay. That means helping every American achieve the American Dream -- a salary that supports a family, affordable health care, retirement security, a voice on the job, and a chance to give their kids an education and a better future.

While an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour will not achieve the American Dream, for low-wage workers it is an important step in the right direction.

We urge you to support this reasonable measure.

Anna Burger

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