Congressman Cleaver took his fight to increase the minimum wage to a Kansas City grocery store this week. The United States Representative went grocery shopping with a local woman, in an effort to highlight the struggle she, and thousands of others in Missouri's Fifth District, face trying to put food on the table and clothes on their children's backs.
"These are people doing all of the things we tell them they are supposed to do in America to get ahead," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. "They are working hard, playing by the rules, and trying to provide for their families. The federal government should be there to support them in their effort to climb into the middle class."
Congressman Cleaver is a cosponsor of H.R. 6211, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012. The proposed legislation would increase the minimum wage in three 85-cent steps, over three years, from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour. It has been three years since minimum wage workers have seen an increase in their paycheck. H.R. 6211 would also increase the required cash wage for tipped workers in annual 85-cent increases. Research shows women make up two-thirds of all tipped workers in America and are much more likely to live in poverty.
Workers, similar to Allison Bitzer, who is employed full-time at a local fast food restaurant, an honors student at Penn Valley Community College, and a married mother of two young girls.
"Every month is a struggle," said Bitzer. "I have to juggle bills to decide what gets paid and what doesn't. And there isn't enough money left over for food sometimes. Instead of fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat, dinner often ends up being hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. That's all I can afford."
"The price of nearly everything has increased; from the price of milk, to the price at the pump, to a college education," said U.S. Representative Cleaver. "Anyone who works hard and plays by the rules should not live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage helps families make ends meet."