A New Wave of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

New York Minimum Wage Victory

March 29, 2013– A new push to raise the minimum wage at the state and federal levels has taken off this year, with the introduction of legislation in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to more than $10.00 per hour, and campaigns for wage increases launching in nearly a dozen states. NELP and its partners are supporting these exciting new efforts.

New York Minimum Wage Victory

This week, after a nearly two-year campaign by a broad coalition, New York leaders agreed to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.00 per hour over three years as part of the state budget.  More than 1.5 million New Yorkers will receive raises as the state wage increases to $9.00 in three steps by Jan. 2016.

While the conservative state senate attempted to block an increase for tipped workers, the campaign fought back and in the final week won a requirement that Governor Andrew Cuomo use the state Department of Labor’s “wage board” process to give New York’s thousands of tipped restaurant workers a raise.  Currently New York’s tipped wage is 69% of the full minimum wage -- the same standard that Congress is pushing for the whole nation in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The coalition will continue fighting to make sure New York keeps tipped workers at least at that level.  While the campaign successfully beat back attempts to create a sub-minimum wage for younger workers, unfortunately the state senate demanded the creation of a wasteful tax credit give-away to low-wage employers as part of the final deal. For more information, click here.

Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013

Following President Obama’s call for a federal minimum wage increase in his State of the Union address this year, Congressional Democrats led by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller have introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. This proposal would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the cost of living as ten states currently do, and raise the federal tipped worker minimum wage to 70% of the full minimum wage.

Please visit our website for more information about the new federal minimum wage campaign, including links to the following resources from NELP and its partners:

Other State Campaigns

NELP is helping support campaigns in nearly a dozen states where leaders are currently considering legislation to raise their minimum wage. In the past few weeks, state houses in Hawaii, New Mexico, Delaware, and Maine approved minimum wage increases by strong margins:

  • Hawaii: The State Senate and House each passed increases earlier this month, which now need to be reconciled. The Senate bill is stronger at $9.25 and includes indexing.
     
  • New Mexico: Aproposal to raise New Mexico’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour was approved by the State House of Representatives on March 15, after passing through the State Senate earlier this month. The bill now heads to the Governor, who is expected to veto.
     
  • Delaware: Last week, the Delaware State Senate approved a very modest bill to raise the state’s minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour to $8.25; it now heads to the state House for consideration.
     
  • Maine: This week the Maine House of Representatives voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and to index the minimum wage to rise automatically each year with the cost of living. The bill remains under consideration in the Senate.

For more information on current state minimum wage campaigns, please visit our website.

In Focus: 10 States Raise Their Minimum Wage on New Year’s Day

2013 kicked off to a strong start with minimum wage increases taking effect on New Year’s day in 10 states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Rhode Island’s minimum wage increased as the result of a law signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee last June, and the remaining nine states boosted their minimum wages in accordance with state laws requiring automatic annual adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Working with our partners at the Economic Policy Institute, NELP released new data documenting the economic stimulus impact and demographic profile of workers benefiting from the 10 minimum wage increases that took effect on January 1st. These figures were cited in hundreds of press stories and were featured in multiple op-eds, including one in POLITICO authored by Governors John Kitzhaber (OR) and Chris Gregoire (WA), emphasizing the economic benefits of indexing the minimum wage and calling on Congress to raise and index the federal minimum wage. Several editorial boards, including the New York Times, drew on this research to applaud the January 1st minimum wage increases.


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For more information about NELP's work on the minimum wage, please visit www.raisetheminimumwage.org.

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