I was a single dad on min. wage. Impossible with today’s wages
I’ve worked for minimum wage. I was also once a young single dad raising my son and having to balance work, family life and a checkbook. Back then it was hard. Today, for far too many Americans, it’s nearly impossible.
I went on to complete an apprenticeship, becoming an electrician, and then spent my adult life fighting for working families through the labor movement.
I know that the best social program in the world is a good job with fair wages and the dignity that comes with it. Now serving in Congress, I can plainly say that raising wages is the moral issue of our time.
But Congress hasn’t acted to raise the federal minimum wage in over a decade.
Today it remains $7.25 an hour, leaving Americans who work full-time living in poverty. These families come up thousands of dollars short each month just trying to meet basic living standards.
Meanwhile, economic security isn’t just a problem for minimum wage workers. We feel it throughout our communities: families struggling to make ends meet, with stagnant wages and rising costs, unable to save enough for their kids’ education, and worried by the threat of a health care overhaul that we know will mean higher costs and less care.
The social contract that guided us for generations – that if you work hard and play by the rules you can make it in America – appears broken. Hard-working families are being forced to choose rent over clothes, food over medicine, today over tomorrow. This is wrong. No American with a full-time job should struggle to put food on their table or put their child to bed hungry. Until wages rise, this economic anxiety will continue to be the norm. Clearly, America needs a raise.
That’s why I am leading the fight to boost wages for working men and women. The Raise the Wage Act will increase the minimum wage with common-sense predictability over the next seven years to $15 an hour. If passed, it will help over 41 million low-wage American workers that are now barely making it paycheck to paycheck, including the parents of 19 million American children. It will raise wages for a third of our nation’s workforce, including over 1.2 million of our friends and neighbors here in New Jersey. And when families finally get the raise they’ve earned, they’ll spend more at our local businesses and give our economy a much-needed jolt.
Americans know this is the right thing to do. This year, I’ve gone across the country meeting workers and talking with experts about what our future workforce will look like. In every discussion, raising wages comes up as a key part of any plan to jumpstart our economy. At the beginning of August, I’m hosting a listening session at Rutgers University, bringing together people from across New Jersey to share ideas for lifting up working families.
First and foremost for me is raising your wages. I will keep standing up for every hard-working American who knows wages are too low and a rigged system is putting our families at risk. This is my mission, as it has been my entire career, and I look forward to the fight.