SEIU President: The Federal Minimum Wage Needs To Be Raised Now

April 15th 2015

Sarah Gray

On Wednesday, as part of the Fight for $15 movement, fast food workers and home healthcare workers all across the country joined to protest low wages and call for a $15 per hour minimum wage. In honor of the Fight for $15, President of the Service Employee International Union, Mary Kay Henry, responded to some comments left on the ATTN: Facebook page, to dispel myths about the minimum wage -- and specifically the Fight for $15 movement.

Some on Facebook wondered why wages should be raised for fast food workers when other industries -- which require secondary degrees -- hardly make $15 per hour? The response is that everyone should be able to make a living wage, and many people stuck working low-wage jobs also have secondary degrees.

"A lot of the nation (42 percent) now earns less than $15 per hour," Henry explains. "Many of those people have gotten a secondary education (460,000) and are stuck in low wage, minimum wage jobs, because the entire economy has collapsed and doesn't work for anybody anymore."

Another common refrain about low-wage jobs is that they're not supposed to be career paths, but rather just entry level jobs. The issue is that since the Great Recession, low-wage jobs -- fast-food, retail and temp positions -- are the fastest growing industry, while other industries have not rebounded nearly as well. Some reports show that half of the jobs created in 2013 were low-wage jobs. 

Why the Fight for 15 Dollars an Hour Affects All of Us

The President of the one of the biggest labor unions in the country responds to our Facebook comments about the Fight for 15.(With Mary Kay Henry of the SEIU)

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The federal minimum wage was firmly established in 1938 through the Fair Labor Standards act -- and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1941. The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 2009; it currently stands at $7.25 per hour for non-exempt workersYet, the purchasing power of that wage has decreased. "Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968 at $8.56 (in 2012 dollars)," a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center explains. "Since it was last raised in 2009, to the current $7.25/hour, the federal minimum has lost about 5.8% of its purchasing power to inflation." 

Low wages are not enough for students to work full-time and pay for college, or help workers support their families. If the minimum wage was raised it would affect "21.3 million U.S. workers (or 16.4% of the workforce) would be directly affected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by July 2015," according to Pew Research Center. And for more minimum wage myth-busting, check out the video below:

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

Posted by ATTN: on Saturday, April 4, 2015