$10.50 an hour. $5,600 a year.
If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since the 1960’s a minimum wage worker would make 10.50 an hour, meaning an extra $5600 a year compared today.
Today, it is at $7.25 per hour and at the mercy of bipartisan politics.
So on July 24th more than 150 Pittsburghers joined in Market Square, despite a torrential downpour, to rally for a raised federal minimum wage. At the rally the emphasis was on the deep disparity between the earnings of workers of the years and CEOs.
This was highlighted by a game of “low wage limbo” where protestors were invited to go under a limbo bar to show how hard it is to get by when the bar is lowered. The wages of current minimum wage earners was represented by a 3 foot bar, and it was impossible for attendants to complete. At 5 feet high was the modest earnings of a steelworker in the late 60’s, a time when inequality was in check and a minimum wage earner made around $10 an hour.
In stark contrast the earnings of a CEO working for one of the top low-wage employers put the bar at an incomprehensible 1,800 feet high, approximately 3 times the height of the nearby PPG tower.
The rally moved to the City-County building to attend the meeting of City Council. There councilman Bill Peduto introduced a resolution declaring Pittsburgh in favor of raising the minimum wage.
The city council cited several concerns. On the national level they was they called on the fact that 73% of new jobs created since the recent recession were low wage jobs. In Pittsburgh they cited a 12.2% rate of poverty, a 21.6% rate of employment in service industry jobs, and a higher proportion of minimum wage earners from the national average.
The resolution passed unanimously with several council people speaking at length about wage disparity and the importance of the federal minimum wage paying people enough to simply live.
It was an important moment in the fight for living wages, as Pittsburghers can now point to City Council in showing the popularity of a higher minimum wage.
As the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 is introduced to the House and Senate, it needs to be shown to all of Pittsburgh’s representation in Washington that Pittsburgh wants the minimum wage needs to be raised.
Please sign the petition so we can tell next level of our government to stand with working Americans. Congress holds the keys to raising the minimum wage at the federal level, and that relies on key votes from PA politicians.
It’s up to us to prove to them that the voters of PA want this change to happen. Sign the petition now and look for future actions based around getting the support of our politicians.