July 19, 2019
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, firstname.lastname@example.org, (412) 945-3242, or Taun Sterling, email@example.com, (202) 207-2832
Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), celebrating its 120th Anniversary of fighting for minimum wage workers, and author of the first minimum wage bills in America, praised the actions of the US House of Representatives in the passage July 18, 2019 Raise the Wage Act of 2019 (H.R. 582) by a 231 to 199 vote.
“I just know that Florence Kelley is smiling upon us today,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. Kelley, NCL’s pioneering champion for the League’s first 33 years, wrote the nation’s first of these bills in the early decades of the 20th Century. “She had many setbacks along the way,” said Greenberg, “including when DC’s minimum wage law was found unconstitutional in 1918 by the Supreme Court.”
But she persisted, and today the minimum wage is recognized as both constitutional and necessary to protect the lowest–paid workers in America. NCL advocates for the $15 an hour minimum wage in today’s legislation and supports a long overdue increase to a wage that is fair, livable, and conducive to a dignified quality of life.
The bill would raise the minimum wage–stuck at $7.25 for nearly 10 years–to $15 an hour by 2025, helping lift millions out of poverty. In addition, Raise the Wage will decrease the wage gap between minimum and median wage workers, as after 2025, the wage will continue to increase indexed to the median wage. Raise the Wage will also ensure fair wages for people with disabilities, who currently could make mere pennies an hour. The current exemptions for disabled employees is “legalized discrimination,” NCL believes. Raise the Wage has the added potential to decrease unemployment and reduce poverty, as shown by the University of California at Berkeley research examining the results of raising the minimum wage in the city of Berkeley.
Democratic Members reminded their colleagues that Congress set the minimum wage since 1938 when it was enacted in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the Republican claim of federal interference “hogwash.”
NCL congratulates and thanks the House Members who supported this landmark overdue legislation. “We salute Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her towering leadership,” said Greenberg. “She noted that the bill ‘grows our economy and creates economy, increases families’ purchasing power and drives economic growth that lifts up all communities.’ Affording people a livable minimum wage benefits local economies, since workers will have higher earnings to spend at local businesses.”
NCL was founded in 1899 on the principles of promoting a fair marketplace for workers and consumers. More than a century–120 years—later, NCL continues to work to ensure progressive reforms take place in communities and workplaces across the country. NCL is also proud of its history of championing state minimum wage laws. Our founder, Florence Kelley, led a campaign that saw 14 states pass some of the first minimum wage laws. Following those victories, NCL worked to pass the 1938 federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which established federal minimum wage. Since then, we have advocated – and will continue to advocate – for increased federal minimum wages.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.