Senate vote signals support growing for hike in minimum wage
June 26, 2006
|A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of North Carolina Council of Churches
The “Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign” urges the U.S. Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage.
A UMNS Feature
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Even though a vote to increase the minimum wage was defeated June 21
in the U.S. Senate there is a clear indication that support for the wage
hike is growing, according to a United Methodist official.
John S. Hill, director of economic and environmental justice at the
United Methodist Board of Church and Society, noted that, for the first
time, “a majority of Senators voted to raise the minimum wage to $7.25
an hour -- in part because of the amazing work by faith advocates across
the country that have called and e-mailed and written in favor of the
The amendment was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 52-46, just 8 short of the 60 votes needed to pass.
“Last week, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an increase in
the minimum wage as an amendment to the Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill,”
Hill said. “While House leadership originally reacted by pulling the
bill from the floor schedule, it now appears the full House will
consider the measure the week of June 26.”
The “Let Justice Rolls Living Wage Campaign,” a program of more than
70 faith and community groups including Church and Society, strongly
urged Congress “to value workers and their families by giving them a
much needed raise.”
In a June 20 press release, the campaign pointed out that since the
last federal minimum wage increase was passed nearly a decade ago,
members of Congress have increased their own salary nine times,
including just last week when they agreed to add another $3,300 to their
“While Congress will soon make close to $170,000 a year, hard-working
full-time minimum wage workers make just $10,700 annually. This
unconscionable gap leaves minimum wage workers about $5,000 below the
already inadequate poverty line for a family of three,” according to the
The Rev. Robert Edgar
“Congress wants us to believe it needs a ‘cost of living adjustment’
of more than $3,000 while minimum wage workers struggle to get by on the
same full-time minimum wage salary of $10,712 for the past nine years,”
said the Rev. Bob Edgar, a United Methodist and chief executive of the
National Council of Churches, one of the campaign sponsors.
“It’s morally outrageous and reprehensible for Congress to increase
their salary and not that of millions of the hard-working American
citizens who they are supposed to represent,” said Edgar.
The “Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign” works to raise the
minimum wage at the federal level and in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky,
Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania,
and played a leading role in recent state minimum wage increases in
Arkansas, Michigan and West Virginia.
A recently released report entitled “A Just Minimum Wage: Good For
Workers, Business and Our Future,” by Holly Sklar and the Rev. Paul
Sherry, argues that raising the minimum wage is an economic imperative
for the enduring strength of the workforce, businesses, communities and
economy, as well as a moral imperative for the nation.
The report was produced by the American Friends Service Committee and
the NCC. Additional information about the Let Justice Roll Living Wage
Campaign can be found online at www.letjusticeroll.org.
“We need to keep the pressure on,” Hill said. “There are likely to be
more votes on this issue in the coming months and Congress needs to
hear from constituents who believe we are called, as a matter of
justice, to provide fair wages for all workers.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.