Release: Constituents to Rep. Maffei - Meet with us on Minimum Wage

"As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, we should remember that the $2 minimum wage demanded by 1963 march would be $15.26 an hour today,” said Howie Hawkins, a Teamsters union member in Syracuse who helped collect signatures on the petition.

Workers Center of Central New York

232 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, NY 13202

For immediate release: August 19, 2013

For more information: David Pittman, dpittman@workerscentercny.org, (315) 450-7145

CONSTITUENTS TO REP. MAFFEI: MEET WITH US ABOUT RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE

Over 350 citizens in New York’s 24th Congressional District turned in a petition today to the Syracuse District Office of Rep. Dan Maffei, requesting a town meeting during the congressional recess to discuss raising the federal minimum wage.

The petition references H.R. 1346, the “Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2013,” sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida. This bill would raise the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $10.50 per hour 60 days after enactment, the level it would have been if the 1968 minimum wage had kept up with inflation. The bill also indexes the minimum wage to inflation in order to ensure that the real value of the minimum wage no longer shrinks as it has over the past 45 years.

Rep. Maffei is not a co-sponsor of the Grayson bill. Nor is Maffei a co-sponsor of a more broadly co-sponsored bill, S. 460/H.R. 1010, introduced by Sen. Harkin of Iowa in the Senate and Rep. George Miller of California in the House. Called “The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013,” H.R. 1010 would raise the minimum wage in phases to $10.10 in three years and then index it to inflation.

“President Obama has called for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address this year and in recent speeches on the economy. Poll after poll shows 70 percent or more of the American public – including a majority of Republicans – supports increasing the minimum wage. We are hopeful that Rep. Maffei will agree that holding a town meeting on raising minimum wage is politically timely as well as morally imperative,” said David Pittman, an organizer with the Workers Center of Central New York, which is coordinating the local effort for a town meeting on the minimum wage.

The Workers Center wants to make the case at the town meeting for the Grayson bill calling for $10.50 immediately and indexed to inflation, Pittman said.

“$10.50 an hour is a modest proposal. As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, we should remember that the $2 minimum wage demanded by 1963 march would be $15.26 an hour today,” said Howie Hawkins, a Teamsters union member in Syracuse who helped collect signatures on the petition.

“Labor productivity has more than doubled since 1968, but the inflation-adjusted minimum wage has fallen from $10.67 then to $7.25 today. If the minimum wage had risen proportionately with productivity since 1968, it would be $22 an hour today. Over 30 million workers – one-fifth of all American workers – are trying to live on poverty wages today that are below the 1968 minimum wage,” Hawkins added.

The Workers Center petition for a town meeting with Rep. Maffei to discuss raising the minimum wage is part of an effort in many congressional districts coordinated by www.TimeForARaise.org, a project of Ralph Nader and the Center for Responsive Law.

The text of the petition reads:

Summons for an August Town Meeting with Rep. Dan Maffei to discuss:

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.50 per Hour

Whereas thirty million hard-pressed American workers are making less per hour today than workers made in 1968 – 45 years ago – adjusted for inflation;

Whereas these working poor – 83 percent are adults – cannot meet the necessities of life for themselves and their children with the obvious deleterious consequences for their livelihoods;

Whereas, worker productivity has doubled since the 1960s while executive pay of large corporations – that employ two-thirds of low income workers – has risen nearly 1000 percent;

Whereas, adjusted for inflation since 1968, the federal minimum wage, now stagnant at $7.25 per hour, would be $10.67 per hour;

Whereas, neither President Obama’s nor Rep. George Miller’s nor Senator Harkin’s minimum wage proposals come close to catching up with 1968 by 2016;

Whereas, only Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill H.R. 1346 requires $10.50 per hour, 60 days after passage;

Whereas, a $10.50 per hour minimum wage would be a major, immediate economic stimulus and expand employment;

Whereas, the moral case for catching up with 1968 is overwhelming and supported by 70 percent of the American people;

NOW HEREBY, the undersigned voters in your Congressional District respectfully summon you to appear in person at a town meeting, during the August recess, at a convenient, public forum (preferably in a municipal building) to discuss exclusively the legislative necessity of a $10.50 federal minimum wage for the working poor of our country who produce, serve and care for us each day. We look forward to an expeditious acceptance with time and place as soon as possible so as to prepare for a thorough dialogue with you.

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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
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