American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

JULY 7, 2006
3:36 PM

CONTACT: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
Gabrielle Coppola or Esmeralda Aguilar 202-637-5018

AFL-CIO "America Needs a Raise" Campaign Builds Pressure Around Country on Minimum Wage
Upcoming Rallies in Ohio, Arizona to Drive Ballot Initiatives While State Legislative Battles Heat Up in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON - July 7 - As Congressional Republicans continue to block a $2.10 increase to the federal minimum wage, AFL-CIO minimum wage activists have been building momentum in their home states to increase the minimum wage in 19 states.

“Working people have taken matters into their own hands to raise their state minimum wage rates,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Now Congress should follow their example and give low-wage workers the raise they deserve by increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25.”

OHIO—On Saturday, July 8, AFL-CIO union members in Cincinnati, Ohio will join former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards for a rally to increase Ohio’s minimum wage to $6.85 with indexing for inflation. On Monday union members will join ACORN delegates and faith, community and elected leaders for a minimum wage rally and march at the state Capitol. Both rallies will be followed by neighborhood canvassing to collect signatures for the Ohio minimum wage ballot initiative—322,899 signatures are needed by August 9 to put the increase on the Ohio ballot this November.

ARIZONA—Led by the Arizona AFL-CIO, union members, minimum wage activists, faith and community leaders from the Arizona Minimum Wage Coalition will rally with John Edwards and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva in Tucson and Phoenix on July 10. Arizona AFL-CIO members helped deliver 209,000 signatures for the Arizona minimum wage ballot initiative on June 26.

KENTUCKY—The Kentucky AFL-CIO will join Rep.George Miller (D-CA), low wage workers, elected leaders and an economist for a panel on raising the minimum wage July 14 in Louisville.

MISSOURI—AFL-CIO minimum wage activists greeted President Bush and Sen. Jim Talent with protests demanding action on the federal minimum wage during the President’s recent fundraising trip to Missouri. The “Give Missourians a Raise” coalition is now expanding activity around the state in advance of the August 8 deadline for certification of the minimum wage ballot initiative to increase Missouri’s minimum wage to $6.50 with indexing for inflation.

CALIFORNIA—A hundred minimum wage activists gathered for a hearing of the California Assembly’s Industrial Welfare Commission on July 5 and successfully pressed the Commission to consider the California State Labor Federation’s minimum wage proposal, which includes annual indexing for inflation. (Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed a $1.00 increase without indexing). The Commission’s Minimum Wage Board will convene in early August to hear both the California AFL-CIO’s and the Governor’s proposal. Meanwhile, minimum wage bills continue to move through the House and Senate.

PENNSYLVANIA—Both the House and Senate of the Pennsylvania legislature have passed legislation that would increase the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15, and Governor Rendell is expected to sign the increase into law soon. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has been a main driver in passing the minimum wage bills; the AFL-CIO and Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO were joined by low-income workers and community and faith leaders for a minimum wage rally in Harrisburg June 5 to demonstrate broad based support for the increase.

MASSACHUSETTS—The Massachusetts legislature reached a compromise on an increase to $8.00 without indexing on July 6. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO will press Governor Romney to sign the bill into law when he takes it up next week. The $8.00 rate would give Massachusetts the highest minimum wage rate in the country.

NORTH CAROLINA—The North Carolina AFL-CIO continues to beat back business attempts to derail minimum wage legislation. The AFL-CIO is now advocating for a House bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $6.15 after an increase was cut from the state budget bill.

The “America Needs a Raise” campaign is also gearing up for actions across the country in July to highlight the 10-year anniversary of the 1996 vote to raise the federal minimum wage.