Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have unveiled legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“A $7.25 minimum wage is a starvation minimum wage. Nobody can live on $7.25. You can’t live on $8. You can’t live on $10 an hour,” Sanders said on April 26, announcing the bill to a gathering of low-wage workers in Washington D.C. “That is why we are saying that after 10 years of inaction Congress is going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage: $15 an hour."
Twenty-three Senate Democrats have signed onto the bill, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and would be indexed to the median wage growth thereafter. This raise would increase the minimum wage higher than its 1968 peak. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.
Sanders and Murray’s legislation would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce. A $15 minimum wage by 2024 would generate $144 billion in higher wages for workers, benefiting their local economies.
The bill will also gradually eliminate the loophole that allows tipped workers and workers with disabilities to be paid substantially less than the federal minimum wage, bringing it to parity with the regular minimum wage. Moreover, it would also phase out the youth minimum wage, which allows employers to pay workers under 20 years old a lower wage for the first 90 calendar days of work.
Since 2012, when striking fast-food workers launched the “Fight for $15,” states and cities representing approximately 18 percent of the U.S. workforce – including California, New York State and the District of Columbia – have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour.
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are original co-sponsors of the legislation.
The bill will soon be introduced in the Senate.