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Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

07.02.14

Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 20th- Raising the federal minimum wage debate continues with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supporting increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed. However, some cities, such as New York, Seattle, Chicago and Sans Francisco, have pushed for a higher wage in the cities than their state’s minimum wage.

In late April, the Senate Republicans in Washington DC did what they promised to do, block an increase of the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. 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, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have also blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

There are 19 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 and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy. The legislators begin their summer recess at the end of June.

On April 30th, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act was unsuccessful in gaining the 60 Senate votes needed to proceed that would have raised the wage to $10.25 an hour. The vote was 54 for to 42 against allowing debate on the measure.

Meanwhile, some Republican controlled states have passed laws that prohibit state minimum wages from being higher than the federal bench-mark. In 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have either passed or introduced bills that bans raising their minimum wage above the federal level, all controlled by the Republican party.