New legislation aims to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2008.
The “Raise the Wage Act” would gradually increase the minimum wage to $17 an hour by 2028, a boost for essential service workers in New Hampshire. The state matches the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Adam Shah, director of national policy for the nonprofit Jobs With Justice, said the bill would put an end to what he calls “starvation wages.”
“It’s really a do-or-die time for our elected officials to fulfill the promises they made to workers to have a better life,” Shah asserted.
Shah pointed out the bill would also eliminate the tipped sub-minimum wage over time, ensuring restaurant workers do not have to rely on the generosity of patrons to earn a living. Opponents of the bill say higher labor costs would force businesses to hire fewer workers.
The United States is currently experiencing what some call “hot strike summer” as low unemployment gives workers more leverage to demand better wages and benefits. Shah noted the measure would offer service workers greater protections when they chose to form a union.
“It also helps workers know that if they get fired for doing things like standing up for their rights,” Shah emphasized. “They know that they are not going to be thrust into a starvation-wage job.”
Shah stressed public support for unions is growing as more people struggle with the rising costs of food and rent.
Supporters of the bill said if the minimum wage had increased with productivity over the past 50 years, it would be $23 an hour today.
This article originally appeared in Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.