JAN. 12, 2017
Contacts: John Patrick,
Rick Levy or Ed Sills, (512)477-6195
The state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour condemns hundreds of thousands of working people to poverty, costs taxpayers and shuts out business customers, Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick said today.
“The minimum wage needs to rise significantly. Raising the minimum wage will give more Texas families a fair shot at realizing their dreams. On the other hand, paying full-time workers a wage that keeps them mired in poverty is wrong and should not be the Texas way,” Patrick said at a news conference that included workers earning poverty wages and lawmakers seeking to raise the wage.
“We are asking the Legislature to act now. To help them, we are also asking Texans who agree that the minimum wage needs to rise to sign our petition at www.RaisetheWageTexas.org and let lawmakers know that Texans believe a full day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
Patrick said working people are not the only ones who suffer when their wages fall far short of the poverty line.
“If you have a family, the current minimum wage easily qualifies you for food stamps,” Patrick noted. “A sufficiently higher minimum wage would reduce the cost of food stamps and other programs that are based on income thresholds.”
“On the other side of that coin, when low-wage workers get a boost, the extra money flows to their communities in short order. Businesses benefit when more working people can afford their products and services.”
Patrick said it is high time for Texas to join 29 other states in raising the minimum wage above a federal level that has become a victim of congressional gridlock after decades of bipartisan support for a decent wage floor.
“The state labor federation comes here every two years asking for fundamental decency for the hundreds of thousands of Texans at or near the minimum wage level,” Patrick said. “We are in good company, but not only with the working people, lawmakers and allies in this room. The people of Texas have expressed strongly in polling that they want the Legislature to raise the minimum wage.”
“If Texas fails to act, our state will only increase the number of working people who are doing worse than their parents did,” Patrick said. “That is one definition of economic failure. Instead, let’s succeed by exercising our power to make work pay.”
The Texas AFL-CIO is a state labor federation whose 237,000 affiliated union members advocate for working families in Texas.