CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION OF THE "FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT OF 2005" -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 09, 2006)
HON. JOE BACA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2006
* Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to call for the immediate passage of H. Res. 614, a bill which allows for the consideration of the Fair labor Standards Act of 2005, to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.
* The Fair Labor Standards Act of 2005 will provide a desperately needed raise in the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour.
* The members of the Congress that have denied a minimum wage increase while voting themselves seven pay increases worth $28,000 should be ashamed of themselves.
* On Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, Maryland became the 18th state in the Nation to enact a law that will make Maryland's minimum wage higher than the federal. Even in my home state of California, the minimum wage is $6.75 an hour. The current minimum has not been raised in over 7 years!
* The minimum wage was established to assure that people who work are not forced to live in poverty. Wage inequality keeps increasing in the United States, in part because of the declining real value of the minimum wage, yet this Congress refused to adjust the minimum wage even for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968 (when it was $1.60 an hour) it would have been $9.14 an hour in 2005.
* Nearly 36 million people live below the poverty-line today--4.3 million more than when President Bush took office--and that number includes 13 million children. Among full-time, year-round workers, poverty has doubled since the late 1970s--from roughly 1.3 million then to more than 2.6 million today. And a report from the Children's Defense Fund shows that a single parent working full-time at the current minimum wage earns enough to cover only 40 percent of the cost of raising two children.
* Today, the minimum wage is 33 percent of the average hourly wage of American workers, the lowest level since 1949.
* Contrary to misinformation spread by opponents of the minimum wage, adults make up the largest share of workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase. Forty percent of minimum wage workers are the sole breadwinners in their families. Moreover, despite what many opponents of the minimum wage say, there is no evidence of job loss from the last minimum wage increase.
* A hike in the federal minimum wage is long overdue! We must restore the value of the federal wage floor in order to lift families out of poverty. An increase in the minimum wage is both humane and good for the economy because it would raise the standard of living of millions of Americans, while providing the economy with a needed boost by increasing the purchasing power of working families.
* Seven and a half million workers and their families would directly benefit from the proposed minimum wage increase. An additional eight million workers would benefit indirectly, via resulting raises. Women and minorities would especially benefit. 61 percent of minimum wage earners are women and almost one-third of those women are raising children; And 35 percent of them are their families' sole earners! 19 percent of minimum wage earners are Hispanic American; and 15 percent are African American.
* Women and minorities are disproportionately affected by the refusal of this Congress to pass a higher minimum wage. This issue shouldn't be a political debate. It should simply be about helping America's families. And that help won't come until workers in those low-wage occupations are paid more than poverty-level wages. I have always and will continue to fight for a minimum wage that provides a future for America's families.