April 26, 2017

Senator Harris Joins Colleagues in Support of $15 Minimum Wage Bill

Senator Harris Joins Colleagues in Support of $15 Minimum Wage Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Senator Kamala D. Harris joined Senators Bernie Sanders, Patty Murray, and a group of other Senate Democrats in support of new legislation that would raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"The minimum wage must be a living wage, and the current rate of $7.25 makes it impossible to support a family," said Senator Harris. "Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. That means we've got to change a system that forces a mom trying to keep a roof over the head and food on the table to hold down two jobs just to earn $15,000 a year. The ladder of economic opportunity is broken in this country, but this legislation will help fix it."

Twenty-three Senate Democrats have co-sponsored the bill, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and index the minimum wage to the median wage growth in subsequent years. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

While labor productivity has more than doubled since the late 1960s, pay for workers overall and for low-wage workers in particular has either stagnated or fallen since the 1970s. At the same time, income for Americans at the top has skyrocketed. The richest 1 percent have seen their income grow by 15 percent since 2009 and by more than 130 percent since the late 1960s.

This legislation would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce. A $15 minimum wage by 2024 would generate $144 billion in higher wages for workers, benefiting their local economies.

The bill will also gradually eliminate the loophole that allows tipped workers and workers with disabilities to be paid substantially less than the federal minimum wage, bringing it to parity with the standard minimum wage. Moreover, it would also phase out the youth minimum wage, which allows employers to pay workers under 20 years old a lower wage for the first 90 calendar days of work.

Since 2012, when striking fast-food workers launched the "Fight for $15," states and cities representing approximately 18 percent of the U.S. workforce - including California, New York State and the District of Columbia - have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are original co-sponsors of the legislation.

The bill will be introduced in the Senate soon.

Read a summary of the bill here.