News Archives

Senate vote signals support growing for hike in minimum wage

June 26, 2006

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
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 proposal.”

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 annual salaries.

“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 campaign.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
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

“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

Related Articles
United Methodists help raise Arkansas minimum wage
United Methodists rally for workers’ rights
The Campaign for a Fair Minimum Wage Act
Minimum wage laws in the states
Let Justice Roll
General Board of Church and Society
American Friends Service Committee