For several years, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour.
While 30 states in the U.S. have state minimum wages higher than that, it is shameful that Tennessee is one of only five states in the nation without a minimum wage law. Too often, those most employed in low-wage jobs are minorities and women.
If you work full time, you shouldn’t live in poverty in America. You shouldn’t have to worry about how to feed your children and provide health care and a safe living space for your family. You shouldn’t have to leave your children home alone because you must work two jobs just to make ends meet.
And like other folks across America, many middle-class and lower-income Tennessee families have seen their incomes fall since 2000. Too many of our families are working harder and harder, but still not getting ahead. Meanwhile, corporate profits are near record highs, but workers aren’t sharing that success through rising wages.
One of our community’s central economic challenges is to give our working men and women a fair chance at making a living wage.
A $7.25 minimum wage may meet the letter, but not the spirit of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was established in 1938 to promote "the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers."
The necessity of remedying this critical economic challenge is one of the biggest issues our community needs to address through this year’s presidential election. There is only one candidate who not only has a practical plan for improving workers’ wages, benefits and conditions, but also has a proven track record of fighting for people like you and me.
That’s why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton for president. As a senator, she introduced or co-sponsored bills to raise the minimum wage in every session of Congress from 2001-08. She co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act to enable employees to form, join or assist labor organizations.
She was a champion of the Paycheck Fairness Act and co-sponsored legislation to make it easier to fight pay discrimination. In this campaign, she’s stood with workers nationwide campaigning for a higher minimum wage.
Clinton believes we are long overdue to raise the minimum wage and get our incomes rising. And I know that she’s the one with the focus, fight and experience to make real progress and get it done.
She understands we need strong growth, fair growth and long-term growth. As president, she will implement her plan to get us there, starting with tax relief for our hardworking families so they can take home more of their paychecks.
To get families back on financial track and give them the income boost they need, there’s only one choice for president. I ask you to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for president in Tennessee’s March 1 primary.
State Representative Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, 54th District