While working men and women across the United States and the world prepared to recognize World Labor Day, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have gradually increased the minimum wage in the U.S. to $10.10 an hour. The legislation fell six votes shy of the 60 needed for it to advance to a formal vote in the Senate, 54-42.
If approved by congress, the legislation would have increased the minimum wage to a level that would allow a family of three to earn an annual income above the poverty line. Republicans objected to the legislation claiming that it would kill 500,000 jobs by forcing small business owners to cut back on employees to compensate for the increase in wages. However, Senate Democrats argued the GOP position hurt American workers struggling to make ends meet.
“Their vote today defines their priorities,” Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said of Republicans. “It is the equivalent of looking American women in the eye and telling them they don’t deserve a living wage. It is telling our middle-class families they don’t deserve a fair shot.
President Obama responded to the Republican obstruction saying;
This is a very simple issue. Either you’re in favor of raising wages for hardworking Americans, or you’re not. Either you want to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up so that prosperity is broad-based, or you think that top-down economics is the way to go.
Republicans in Congress have found the time to vote more than 50 times to undermine or repeal the health care bill for millions of working families. Earlier this month, they voted for a budget that would give the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut while forcing deep cuts to investments that help middle-class families. But they won’t raise wages for millions of working families when three-quarters of Americans support it? That makes no sense. And on top of that, they’ve blocked our efforts to make sure women receive equal pay for equal work. They’ve stood in the way as we’ve fought to extend unemployment insurance for parents who need a little help supporting their families while they’re out looking for work. Republicans have failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and they’ve increasingly failed to do anything when it comes to helping people who work hard get ahead.”
The irony of the vote, on the eve of International World Labor Day should not be lost on the American people. Congressional republicans have aligned themselves with high powered special interests like the Koch brothers and Walmart to keep millions of Americans living below the poverty line so that they can continue to line their pockets with billions of dollars in profits. Profits which fail to trickle down into the economy.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. That distinction now goes to Canadians.
While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.
After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.
On International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, working families are standing up across the United States, demanding action be taken on senseless deportations that hurt workers, families and communities. May Day is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s workers and the contributions we make to society.
Last night, the AFL-CIO highlighted this issue by projecting a simple message on the face of their Washington, D.C. headquarters across the street from the White House.
International Workers Day, World Labor Day, marks the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, where police shot and killed several demonstrators who were fighting for the eight-hour workday. Over the next several years, people across the globe began demonstrating on May 1, and in many countries the day became an official holiday.