Minimum Wage Hike Best Stimulus Say Workers, Business, Faith Leaders

For Immediate Release

Let Justice Roll
Contact: 

Betsy Leondar-Wright: 781-648-0630 (w)
press@letjusticeroll.org

Minimum Wage Hike Best Stimulus Say Workers, Business, Faith Leaders

WASHINGTON - When the federal minimum wage rises from $6.55 to $7.25 an
hour on July 24, the national Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign will
celebrate - and call for another increase to $10 in 2010.

"The minimum wage was
enacted during the Great Depression to put a floor under workers' wages and
stimulate the economy. We need that boost today
," said Holly Sklar, Let Justice Roll Senior Policy Adviser and author of the
just-updated Raising
the Minimum Wage in Hard Times
and Raise
the Minimum Wage to $10 in 2010
. "The
long-term fall in worker buying power is one reason we are in the worst
economic crisis since the Depression. $10 in 2010 will foster a productive
economy fueled by living wages rather than destructive debt and speculation."

Why $10 in 2010? The
decade between 1997 and 2007 was the longest period in history without a
minimum wage increase. Recent raises are so little, so late that even with the
increase July 24, workers will still make less than they did in 1956, adjusting
for inflation.

It would take $9.83
today to match the buying power of the minimum wage of 1968. "You can't build a strong economy on poverty
wages
," said Sklar. "A job should
keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.
"

Critics oppose
minimum wage increases in good times and bad, claiming they will increase
unemployment. Extensive research, summarized in Raising
the Minimum Wage in Hard Times
, shows that increasing minimum wage does not
increase unemployment.

Minimum wage
workers are also consumers. Minimum wage raises are well-targeted stimulus
because they go directly to those who most need to spend additional dollars on
food, fuel, rent and healthcare.

Rev. Paul Sherry,
Executive Director of Let Justice Roll, says, "It is immoral that the minimum wage does not cover the cost of basic
human needs. A recession does not justify poverty wages to prop up a troubled
economy. We need a wage ethic to go with our work ethic."

In Tennessee and Georgia, Let Justice Roll will spotlight
the minimum wage raise at events featuring low-wage workers, supportive
business owners, faith leaders and organizers of state and local living wage
campaigns
:

In Nashville, Tenn., organizers who recently
succeeded in stopping a ban on local living wage ordinances will celebrate the
raise at 4:30 pm on July 24 on Legislative Plaza.

  • Megan Macaraeg,
    director of Mid Tennessee Jobs with Justice and leader in the Nashville living
    wage campaign, will say, "It's time we
    stop accepting poverty wages for anyone. Our work here in Tennessee is an
    important building block in Let Justice Roll's campaign to raise the federal
    minimum wage to $10 in 2010."
  • Walter Jasper, who
    earns minimum wage
    at Shur Brite Car Wash and was profiled in the Wall Street Journal, will speak about
    how his raise and his wife's will help them catch up on their rent, but will
    still not be enough to make ends meet.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Let Justice Roll member groups
will hold a press conference with local workers getting a raise and supportive
business owners:

  • Marilynn Winn, who
    earns $6.75 an hour
    as a temp and helps support her mother and grandson,
    will say, "The jobs I work are often
    invisible to the public. However they are very important to families and
    community health and safety."

  • Entrepreneur Lya
    Sorano, founder of Atlanta Women in Business,
    says, "Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer. How could we get out of this
    recession without putting more money into circulation?"

Lya Sorano is among 900 business
owners and executives
- including the CEOs of Costco, the U.S. Women's
Chamber of Commerce and small business owners from every state -  who have signed the Business for a
Fair Minimum Wage
statement supporting next week's increase.

The owner of The Progress Bakery in Springdale, Arkansas, Jose Herrera,
says, "The minimum wage increase is a
good investment to push the economy forward. From a business owner's point of
view, I think it's great because it would help my workers and customers earn
more. If everyone earns more, they have more to spend, bringing in more
business for me in the long run.
"

More than 600 faith
leaders from all 50 states
have endorsed Let Justice Roll's letter calling
for a $10 in 2010 minimum wage, and more are signing on every day. Inaugural
signers include the leaders of 20 denominations and national faith
organizations. You can find the Faith
Leaders Letter
and growing list
of signatories
at our website.

"Our food banks and
homeless shelters see more and more working people who can't make ends meet on
minimum wage. Our businesses don't have enough customers,
" said Rev. Steve Copley, chair of the Let
Justice Roll board and leader of the Give Arkansas a Raise Now coalition that
raised the Arkansas minimum wage in 2006. "More
Americans have come to realize that too-low wages are a recipe for disaster,
not just for individual families but for the economy as a whole. Our people and
our economy need living wages.
"

Let Justice Roll will be posting new reports, videos, worker
statements, charts, photos and other resources at our newly relaunched www.letjusticeroll.org website before
and after July 24.

Contact Betsy Leondar-Wright to arrange
interviews with national spokespeople, local organizers and workers in states getting
a raise on July 24.

With over 100 member organizations, the Let Justice Roll
Living Wage Campaign is the leading faith, community, labor, business coalition
committed to raising the minimum wage to a living wage at the state and federal
level.

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