Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He announced the proposal at a rally on Capitol Hill in a speech to some 1,000 workers who have gone on strike for a living wage.
“It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills,” Sanders said. “A job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”
Reps. Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Sheila Jackson-Lee and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sponsored a companion version of the bill in the House.
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The measures would phase in increases in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. Increasing the minimum wage would directly benefit 62 million workers who currently make less than $15 an hour, including over half of African-American workers and close to 60 percent of Latino workers. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity and inflation since 1968, it would be more than $26 an hour today.
This is an idea that is popular all across America, but not in Congress. State and cities are acting on their own. New York’s Wage Board on Wednesday approved a new $15 minimum hourly pay for the state’s 200,000 fast food workers.
That’s only the most recent example. Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, are considering raising the wage. Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco already passed ordinances raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Twenty-six states already enacted minimum wage increases.