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Wallace: Honoring Workers on Fathers Day

On this Fathers Day, I honor my dad’s memory, who would be 100 today. In his 25 years in the chicken hatchery business in Doylestown, he was steadfastly committed to a decent standard of living for all hatchery workers, right down to the humblest floor sweeper. This meant ensuring a fair wage and benefits.

Sadly, today marks the longest period in history that the federal minimum wage has gone without an increase since it was first created, in the New Deal more than 80 years ago. The last increase was on July 24, 2009, to $7.25 an hour, and it’s been stuck there ever since. Never has Congress so failed its duty to low-wage workers for such a long time, leaving millions to suffer under poverty wages.

The simple truth is that $7.25 is not enough for anyone to live on. Nationally, the figure should be about $20 if wages had kept up with the economy over the past half century. In Pennsylvania, the National Low Income Housing Coalition recently found that to live in a modest one-bedroom apartment, a worker would need more than $16 an hour. In Bucks County, a bare living wage for a single parent with one child is calculated to be more than $25. And Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states which has not set a higher standard by raising its own minimum wage.

Unfortunately, $7.25 has only weakened over the past decade, as constant inflation has eroded its purchasing power. For low-wage workers, real wages are actually shrinking every year. Today, nearly 40 percent of Americans have trouble affording at least one of their basic necessities like housing, food or health care.

But Congress is not deaf. Many Members heard workers’ pleas and tried to raise the minimum wage, led by President Obama, but congressional Republicans killed it. Today’s version, the Raise The Wage Act, would gradually raise the federal minimum wage, to $8.55 this year, and $15 by 2024, followed by automatic annual increases to keep up with inflation (like Social Security). It’s rapidly advancing through Congress, and has 205 cosponsors in the US House of Representatives – but not our own Brian Fitzpatrick, a self-described moderate “independent.”

That’s surprising, because few places in America would benefit more than the parts of Bucks and Montgomery Counties that make up Pennsylvania’s first congressional district. Gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 would benefit a whopping 37 percent of all workers in PA-01. Almost 120,000 of our friends and neighbors would see their annual wages increase by more than 18 percent.

Change is long past due. There is overwhelming public support for increasing the federal minimum wage. And it’s not just Democrats and liberals. Voters in the reddest states – like Missouri, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – have resoundingly approved ballot initiatives to raise the state minimum wage.

My dad was a lifelong Republican, but fair’s fair. He would have been ashamed if his workers had to take a second job to provide for their families. Congress must act now to reverse this historic neglect of America’s low-wage workers.

Scott Wallace, an attorney and foundation executive from Doylestown, was the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District in 2018, and is co-founder of Kennedy Democrats.

14 Responses

  1. You just really love to hear yourself talk Mr. Wallace. Do you actually think your inherited millions garner you any credibility? They do not. You have accomplished nothing of value in Pennsylvania except squandering your inheritance on your own ego through your failed Congressional run. Stop embarrassing yourself and go quietly into the night.

  2. This guy is so desperate to construct some nexus to Bucks County in order to justify his past and future attempts to buy a seat in Congress with inherited money it’s just sad at this point. PA1 is not a plaything for a spoiled rich kid – go back to Maryland or South Africa or wherever you’ve chosen to spend your adult life and leave the rest of us alone.

    1. With all due respect, Cliff, you have nothing to say about the merits of my argument for a more liveable wage, so I guess you agree. Hopefully, legislators at both the federal and state levels will recognize your wisdom, and act!

      1. Dude. Your a dick and Cliff is correct. Please stop promoting your failed Government Philosophy. You lived through the Cold War, but I guess the Silver spoon kept you from having to address consequences of policies you advocate.

  3. Gee whiz, I wonder whether importing cut-rate third world unskilled labor has something to do with chronically low wages and benefits? Nah! Must be something else.

  4. chicken hatcheries are good. I’ve read in a magazine that if only a chap can scrape through a couple of dollars, he can buy a few hens and start a chicken farm. A hen lays an egg, say once a day. You can sell them at 25 cents a dozen. You can keep eggs on ice for years! My uncle wants me to go out to Colorado but I won’t go to that bally ranch. I don’t like cows or horses. But I think I’d be pretty hot stuff among the poultry. Jolly life too! Keeping hens!

  5. A raise in the minimum wage is long overdue, Congress needs to act now. The last time there was a federal minimum wage increased was in 2009 when Patrick Murphy was in Congress.

    1. The arguments in favor of a raise in minimum wage are lacking. Is the best we can come up with it’s been awhile and 18 yr olds graduating high school cannot live on their own serving ice cream?

  6. No matter what job people do, if they cannot afford the basic necessities of life from working full time that is in fact costly for the economy. It is expensive to be poor and it means those struggling buy less things and thus less money is in circulation in the system. In a time where so many people are getting poorer and poorer, we need wage hikes now unless we wend up re-creating some sort of feudal economy. At the very least we must adjust for inflation.

  7. It’s been too long and Congress has done too little, when Americans are unable to afford housing because they don’t get paid enough not because they don’t work hard enough.

    1. Can you state the jobs you are referring? I am wondering the jobs that are being argued to be effected.

      I dont think anyone would argue folding clothes or flipping burgers is a position someone should be expected to be paid a full cost of living through.

  8. It’s about time we started paying people enough to live on. It’s absurd that anyone should work full time and not be able to afford a basic one-bedroom apartment.

    1. The IFO did an economic impact evaluation. Did those results not offer reason why we would not rush to raise a minimum wage?

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