Growing up in public housing taught me many things as a boy. Certainly, the struggles faced by hardworking parents to put food on the table, was one of them. This week I got the honor of meeting Kansas City resident, Allison Bitzer. She is a mother of two, an honors student at Penn Valley Community College, and a full-time employee at a local fast food restaurant. Making ends meet is nearly impossible.
Together, as a part of a news conference with Missouri Jobs with Justice and other organizations, we tried to spotlight Allison, and the many thousands of workers in Missouri's Fifth District, just like her. Our focus is clear. The minimum wage needs to be increased.
It has been three long years since workers have seen a federal minimum wage increase. Since then, nearly everything has increased but the minimum wage: the price of milk, the price at the pump, the cost of a college education.
It is because of this, that I am 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 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.
Residents in Missouri's Fifth District should not have to decide between paying rent and putting food on the table. Minimum wage workers, like Allison, are doing everything we tell them they are supposed to do in America to get ahead. They are working hard, playing by the rules, and trying to provide for their families. I strongly believe we should be doing our part to help them climb into the middle class.