Support state minimum wage legislation

March 22, 2013

The News Journal ran an article Feb. 19 that reported that “powerful forces” such as the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists for Wal-Mart and Verizon were against Wilmington Sen. Robert Marshall’s bill to raise the Delaware minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour effective July 1, to $8.75 an hour effective July 1, 2014, and tie annual increases thereafter to increases in inflation. Delaware businesses feel it is wrong to take decisions on pay out of the hands of company leaders.

Businesses have a moral obligation to pay their workers a living wage. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A worker who works a 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year would receive gross pay of $15,080. This is below the federal poverty level for a family of two. The current minimum wage only provides 65 percent of what a family of four needs to be at the federal poverty level. For a family of five it only provides 56 percent of what is needed.

Increasing the minimum wage will improve the economy, not put a drag on it as business wants us to believe. Every extra dollar earned through an increase in the minimum wage will go right back into the economy for shelter, food, clothing and transportation. Likewise the increase would improve the wages of those employees who make just above the current minimum wage, resulting in increased purchases of necessitates. The net result would be to provide businesses throughout the state with increased sales directly related to the minimum wage increases.

Minimum wage workers cannot, in any state, afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent working a standard 40-hour work week. In Delaware an individual would have to work 103 hours a week at minimum wage in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

I find it interesting that of the two businesses noted in the article as putting their lobbyists to work to defeat the minimum wage bill, one is guaranteed a profit by the public service commissions in the states in which the company operates, and the second company is well known for its low wages, paying women less than men for the same work, and purchasing its goods in third world countries for the lowest prices possible without regard to child labor or safety laws to protect the workers producing the goods sold in America.

To quote President Obama, raising the minimum wage “....could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank, rent or eviction, scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while C.E.O. pay has never been higher.”

Please let your state senator know that you want him/her to do what is right for the working poor and support Senator Marshall’s Senate Bill 6.

Thomas J. O’Hagan

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