Labor Day exists to honor and value the social and economic contributions of the American worker. Every worker in the country deserves respect and dignity, which Katherine Clark believes should include a fair wage and the right to take care of family needs.
"When we take care of our workers, we're taking care of the spouses, children, and grandparents who depend on them too," said Clark, a Democratic state senator from Melrose. "It's time for Congress to raise the minimum wage and expand family medical leave so that we can strengthen our families."
In Congress, Katherine would push for an increase in the minimum wage to $11, a proposal that goes beyond President Barack Obama's goal of $9 per hour and she would stand up for an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act to include paid family leave. The goals are part of Katherine's Pledge to Women and Families, her congressional agenda outlining her plan to go to Washington to fight Republican extremists attacking women's rights and change the conversation toward finding real progress for women and families.
"We can't wait on putting more money in the pockets of our families and mandating change so they can care for their loved ones," Clark said. "The time is now to increase the minimum wage and expand family leave to ensure stable, steady incomes and brighter futures for our children."
On Labor Day, Katherine Clark visited Lakota Bakery in Arlington Heights on Labor Day to take a tour with owner Barbara Weniger. In business for 22 years in Arlington, Weniger feels it's important and only fair to pay the bakery's seven employees well above the minimum wage.
"I'm proud that I pay above the minimum wage because I never wanted to squeeze every cent I could from the people who work for me. That's not why I got into business," Weniger said. "People worry you can't pay employees living wages and stay in business. I have."
Congress hasn't approved an increase in the federal minimum wage since 2007, and at $7.25 per hour, full-time work leaves a woman with two children thousands of dollars below the poverty line, according to the National Women's Law Center. In Massachusetts and across the country, Clark supports legislation to increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour, which would benefit about 500,000 workers in Massachusetts. Increasing the minimum wage has also been shown to spur spending and improve economic activity.
Katherine would support The Healthy Families Act and would fight to expand the Family Medical Leave Act, which currently covers less than 60 percent of American workers and does not include paid leave. Katherine has also supported Massachusetts legislation to ensure paid sick days for all Massachusetts workers, to attend to illness or medical care for themselves, or a sick child, spouse or parent.
"Standing up for American workers and making sure everyone gets a fair wage and a chance to take care of their families shouldn't be a partisan issue, but Republicans believe taking care of our families is bad for business," Clark said. "Progress can't wait, so when I get to Washington, I'll put families front and center in the conversation in Congress so that we take real steps toward improving their lives at home."