The current federal minimum wage is a starvation wage, and it must become a living wage. That is why I recently introduced legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next several years.
When we first talked about this idea, hundreds of people wrote in to share how a raise to $15 an hour would change their lives. I heard from parents caring for young children, from children caring for their aging parents, from students, and from countless others. I want you to read two of those notes:
“Raising the minimum wage would mean that my single mother would no longer have to break her back working two jobs just to barely afford to support me and our family.”
“If I made 15 dollars an hour at one job, I would not have to work 65 hours a week at three different jobs to afford rent, bills, food and other living expenses. If I made 15 dollars an hour I could easily support myself while having money left over to put in savings, invest back into the economy, and have a rainy day fund in case my car breaks down or something unexpected comes up without having to rely on a credit card or small personal loans. I think psychologically I would be a lot happier.”
The good news is, we are making progress on this issue. We started with Democrats advocating for an increase from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour in 2014. Earlier this year, a handful of senators introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour. And just last week, the call to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour was approved as part of the official Democratic Party platform.
I believe that position should be adopted by all of the candidates running for president. Sadly, that is not yet true, even for the Democrats.
It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills. We live in the richest country in the world, but that reality means very little because so much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals.
But real change is possible when large numbers of ordinary Americans speak out, vote, and get involved in the democratic process. If we stand together, we will win. If we are divided, the big money interests opposed to raising the minimum wage will win.
Nothing significant happens in this country without a strong grassroots movement. That’s what this political revolution is all about.