November 22, 2014 · 29 Cheshvan

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Failure to Advance Minimum Wage Increase in Senate Disappoints


Saperstein: "No one should work full time and live in poverty, yet the current minimum wage of $7.25 and the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 leave too many workers doing just that."

Contact: Sean Thibault or Howie Levine
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington, D.C. April 30, 2014 -- In response to the Senate's failure to advance a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are deeply frustrated with the Senate's failure to allow debate on S. 1737 -- the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. This bill would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and the tipped minimum wage to at least $7.10 per hour and index both to the cost of living. This is a common sense proposal supported by a majority of Americans.

No one should work full time and live in poverty, yet the current minimum wage of $7.25 and the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 leave too many workers doing just that. It is time to ensure that American businesses across the country follow the lead of companies such as the Gap and Costco who have already realized that raising their wages to a minimum of $10.oo is good for business.

Most importantly, this bill indexes the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage to yearly increases in the cost of living. This essential policy, already in place in over 10 states, will ensure the minimum wage does not lose its value over time, as it has in the past. This will permanently protect workers and ensure they do not need to count on Congress to periodically raise the minimum wage.

In Deuteronomy 24:14-15, we are taught "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer... but you must pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it." The Talmud goes even further, stating, "One who withholds an employee's wages is as though he deprived him of his life" (Baba Metzia 112a). We must no longer deprive hardworking Americans of the ability to provide for their needs and those of their families.

As we move forward from this disappointing vote, we will continue to work with members of Congress to pass this bill. We must no longer deprive hardworking Americans of the ability to provide for their needs and those of their families. Raising the minimum wage strengthens not just the workers who depend on it, but our nation overall.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.



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