Letter to the Editor submitted for publication in Labor World.
One of the most heated and controversial topics that will come up before the new session of the Minnesota State Legislature will be around the Minimum Wage and what the Minimum Wage should be. Presently Minnesota's Minimum Wage is a pathetically miserly wage of $6.15 an hour--- just try living on that.
As pathetic as the Minimum Wage is miserly, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party with its super-majority ended the last session without raising the Minimum Wage a plug nickle. So much for this party's concern about working people.
But, the real question is: How should the Minimum Wage be established?
As Democrats squabble among Democrats and then Republicans and Democrats squabble between them over the Minimum Wage all for self-serving political expediency, one fact remains: workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor which means hundreds of thousands of working class families will be living in poverty here in Minnesota.
And then these same politicians imposing these poverty wages will squander tax-dollars to fund studies to find out why people are poor.
Anyone can hear what the politicians themselves are saying about the Minimum Wage by listening to this news story on Minnesota Public Radio:
The foundation-funded outfit, Jobs With Justice, recently sent this out:
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.50 per hour. But we all know that isn't a living wage. $7.50 an hour isn't nearly enough to meet the minimums of life. It's not enough to make sure there's food on the table for families. And it's not enough to put a roof over the heads of the millions of working poor in our country.Even this group just doesn't get it.
D.C. residents recently fought for retail workers to get a raise to $12.50 an hour, California legislators are well on their way to increasing their state minimum wage to $10, and Minnesota leaders just announced that they are considering a bill to raise their minimum wage to $9.50.
If it were up to you – what would you set minimum wages at to ensure they are also living wages?
As this article from the Minnesota AFL-CIO proves, even this labor body just doesn't get it when it comes to the Minimum Wage:
Common sense, and a basic sense of human decency and justice, requires that the Minimum Wage should be legislatively tied to all cost-of-living factors indexed to inflation with periodic increases to improve the standard of living of working class families.
Why should any worker be forced to work at a job that doesn't provide a real living wage based on all cost-of-living factors as determined by the United States Depart of Labor's (over) Bureau of Labor Statistics?
If employers don't want to pay real living wages let them do the work themselves.
I find it rather ironic we never hear politicians talking about “cost-of-living” and “standard-of-living” when the Minimum Wage is being discussed.
Of course we never hear about the super-profits employers derive from paying workers poverty wages.
And, we never hear from politicians how severe unemployment pushes all wages, including the Minimum Wage, down.
What we need is a “21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity” which would legislatively mandate that the president and Congress be responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment with real living wage jobs and then we would see all wages rise.
The Minnesota State Legislature with a DFL super-majority should pass such a resolution and pass it on to President Obama and all members of Congress. After all, what are the three top issues of every single DFL candidate for public office? "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs." It is rather hypocritical to talk about jobs to get elected and then once elected not make yourself accountable for creating these jobs.
If anyone would like to refute me as to how the Minimum Wage should be established I would be happy to participate in public debates--- anytime, anywhere.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Cell phone: 651-587-5541