The following blog post was written by Linda Santiguido from Dormont. Linda is a mom, an activist and a proud American.
I have joined many local residents in speaking out to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour in order to life working people out of poverty. I feel that it is high time that the 99% get a raise and our congressman Rep. Tim Murphy needs to step up to the plate and give his low wage earning constituents a break.
My first job out of high school was making the minimum wage at a factory in Lawrenceville. I remember how hard it was to get by then and that’s before I had a family. Now costs have gone up exponentially. But wages have stayed stagnant as CEO salaries grow and grow.
Americans are working harder and harder for less and less while corporate CEOs get bigger and bigger bonuses. And our politicians in Washington are sitting on their hands and watching it happen. More and more our good jobs are being outsourced and shipped overseas. Rep. Tim Murphy just voted against the Bring Our Jobs Home Act to end tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas. I wish my congressman cared about making everything in America again and not just Olympic uniforms that earn him good media sound bites. If Congressman Murphy refuses to do anything to stop outsourcing then he should at least raise the minimum wage for the service jobs we are left with.
Working full-time in a minimum wage job pays just $15,000 a year. That's not enough to live on for working families or seniors living on savings. The simple fact is: the minimum wage can’t support families in the 99%. At $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage amounts to only $15,080 a year. That’s more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. And when people live in poverty they need more public assistance so we all foot the bill for the low wages companies like Walmart have to offer.
Is that the best corporate America has to offer minimum wage workers? Wages that are below the poverty line? Will our members of Congress like Tim Murphy stand with the 99% and raise the minimum wage or stand with the corporations like Walmart?
How are we supposed to afford to buy the products companies sell? People who work paycheck-to-paycheck are customers in our businesses and put their money right back into our economy. It should be a no-brainer to pay them a fair wage for their hard work. FDR, at the height of the Great Depression, raised the minimum wage for the poor and middle class, not the rich. He knew that to get the economy headed in the right direction, you have to put money into the pockets of the poor and middle class and they will spend it immediately, which helps the economy. Another great president, JFK, said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." Instead of trying to "lift our boats," Republicans keep telling us to tread water and wait for things to trickle down.
The trickle down isn't coming. Americans who work hard and play by the rules should be paid enough to live off their wages -- not forced to live in poverty because the minimum wage is just too low. When the minimum wage doesn’t pay, taxpayers do. Did you know that half of Walmart’s workers make so little that they qualify for food stamps?
Politicians in Congress get an automatic raise every year if they do nothing. But we need to depend on Congress agreeing each year to make the minimum wage keep up with the cost of living. It’s time to fix that problem. Rep. Tim Murphy represents thousands and thousands of minimum wage workers. It’s time he stands with the 99% and votes to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour.