Activists and progressive congressional leaders are calling on the Biden-Harris administration to disregard the Senate Parliamentarian advisory opinion in order to advance the $15 minimum wage bill and full elimination of the subminimum wage for tipped workers as part of the $1.9T COVID-19 relief package.
23 congress members including Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ro Khanna and Rep. Andy Levin have signed a letter in support of the women of color-led coalitions urging that the $15 minimum wage hike be included and passed. The group held a digital press conference on Monday where they discussed a path forward in hopes to persuade the current administration to use the full extent of the executive branch.
The fight to increase the minimum wage is a racial and gender justice issue. A large majority of essential and tipped workers are women of color, specifically Black women who put their health and mental stability on the line in order to survive in America.
“We have to deal with constant abuse, sexual harassment, people want to see us without our mask,” said April Grant an essential worker who at one point fought back tears. “And we have to deal with safety issues.”
“Black women and women of color bear the brunt of this the most,” said Rep. Lee. At least one in three Black women are frontline workers.
Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage said tipped wages and the low minimum wage are a “direct impact of slavery,” affecting 14 million workers.
After Black women charged to the polls again in mass numbers this past November, their needs must come first.
“This was a promise, it was a promise made to those who had to overcome many many odds in the midst of covid and voter suppression to cast votes in historic numbers,” said Aimee Allison, president of She The People.
“It’s a promise that can’t be a dream deferred.”
But the fate of the minimum wage hike is stalled, even though it passed in the House last week, due to the Senate Parliamentarians’ ruling stating that it could not be included in the stimulus unless it it passes through budget reconciliation or abolishing the filibuster.
Budget reconciliation allows a bill pass with majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to move legislation through the Senate. A large portion of progressive leaders want to abolish the filibuster because they feel it is often used as a tool of obstruction rather than a means of moderating healthy legislative debate.
In the public sphere, support for the minimum wage increase thrives. Close to 70 percent of Americans are in favor.
Passage of another wage hike would end the longest period of time without an increase in minimum wage in the United States, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour.