In his final State of the Union address, President Obama spoke strongly about workers rights and economic inequality, saying that it is up to we the American people to create change in our land — that we’ve done it before, and can do it again.
Yet in President’s speech, he addressed raising the minimum wage only in passing as he ticked off a number of unresolved issues with the Congress.
The Patriotic Millionaires are those who have benefited tremendously from the opportunities that America has provided them, and we know that putting more money into the hands of working people is the best way to grow and sustain a healthy economy.
In his remaining time in office, we urge President Obama to double down on the issue of the minimum wage in order to help jump start a movement among “we the people.”
Create a new narrative for the American people about the minimum wage, and the need to raise it to $15 an hour.
Fifteen an hour is not an end point, after all, but a starting point — one giant leap to be followed by another, towards the goal of sustainable living wages for working Americans.
Another needed fix, perhaps more impactful than simply raising the dollar figure, is the issue of indexing our minimum wage. Workers absolutely need this, so as to “secure the floor” to prevent the minimum wage from being devalued over time by inflation.
This necessary economic mechanism was originally included in proposals for the Fair Labor Standards Act, when the minimum wage was first crafted in 1938, but it was ultimately left out of the law. Action on minimum wage increases was instead left to Congress and the president, left to politics.
In today’s day and age, it is practically criminal to leave increases in the hands of a polarized political system — a system that, as President Obama reminded us last night is increasingly “rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations.”
Action cannot wait. In record numbers as Americans are feeling the squeeze.
Is it any surprise that a new demographic term called the “precariat” seeks to capture and classify the shared experiences of millions of working and middle class people in America and throughout the world: the pervasive sense of being on edge, financially and emotionally, pressed for time, stressed about the future, angry about one’s prospects in life?
President Obama, we urge you to use your remaining time in office wisely. The Patriotic Millionaires were proud to stand with you in 2010 when you issued an executive order to raise the pay of federal contractors to $10.10. We are ready and willing to stand with you again on further actions to support working class Americans including raising the minimum wage to $15.
You have the bully pulpit for one more year. Use it well. If the recent votes to raise the minimum wage in states and municipalities across the nation are any indication, Americans are ready to listen and to act.