As a senator, Clinton wrote the Standing with Minimum Wage Earners Act in 2006 and 2007, tying Congressional salary increases to an increase in the minimum wage. Regarding her bill, Clinton said, “every time Congress gives itself a raise in the future that Americans get a raise too. This is the right and fair thing to do for hardworking Americans.”
Members of Congress have the luxury of deciding whether to accept the automatic raise they’re entitled to under the law. If only the rest of America was so lucky.
Unfortunately, Congress didn’t pass Clinton’s legislation and this week it voted down the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, keeping the federal minimum wage stagnant at $7.25 an hour. With 71 percent of Americans, their constituents, supporting a raise in the minimum wage, it is clear what should have been done. As Clinton has said, “We should be working to keep a basic bargain with all Americans: If you work hard and are responsible, you will not live in poverty.”
At a time where we’ve seen the rich getting richer while the middle class and low-income families suffer, Congress needs to understand that we can’t be successful as a nation with nearly 50 million people living in poverty.
Some members of Congress still don’t get it. But this is not the end — we must keep the conversation going and continue to work to give America the raise it deserves — until everyone has a fair shot. The fight is far from over.
R. Thomas Buffenbarger is the international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Buffenbarger is a member of the AFL-CIO executive council and also serves as vice president of IndustriALL.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.