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Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage


MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage


REGION, April 16th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have began to rally support for the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification from the Department of Labor, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently attended a pro-minimum wage increase rally in New Jersey, and Philadelphia stating that increasing the federal minimum wage would be good for workers and the community where they work. The AFL-CIO has participated in rallies with a bus with the slogan painted in blue with the words on its side “Give America a Raise.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, in Pennsylvania the wage remains at $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

On April 7th, Pennsylvania neighboring state Maryland voted to raise their minimum wage above the federal standard. Maryland lawmakers voted to gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour. The pro-business, anti-worker Maryland legislators were able to delay the full phase-in of the $10.10 minimum wage until 2018. Pennsylvania will have a lower minimum wage than three of it’s neighboring states, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. Maryland was the fourth state in the nation to approve wage increases above the federal standard in 2014.

Currently, there are more than 20 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage. Pennsylvania Senator Christine Tartaglione (Democrat-2nd Legislative District) and Minority Caucus Secretary, has introduced a bill that would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The United States economy has lost almost 6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 while the American worker productivity increased during the time and many of the lowest paid workers are employed by large companies that have given huge raises to their executives after they recovered from the great recession but most have been reluctant to increase their workers wages.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Delaware has increased the state minimum wage above the Federal rate this year with the strong support of organized labor.