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Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes the Introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2004

Contact:Alexis Rice or Sheryl Shapiro
202.387.2800

Saperstein: We cannot expect Americans to climb from poverty without giving them the necessary tools - education, skills training, and above all, adequate pay.

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2004 - In response to yesterday's introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2004, which would raise the current $5.15 per hour minimum wage to $7 per hour over the next two years, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2004, which seeks to raise the minimum wage to $7 per hour over the next two years, is a major step toward addressing the needs of America's working poor. Across the United States, families relying on the minimum wage to feed, house and clothe themselves are unable to make ends meet. In fact, a family of three trying to survive on the minimum wage would fall $5,000 below the poverty line-even when working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks per year.

As our economy continues to struggle, it is essential that we address the needs of the more than 7 million workers who would directly benefit from this minimum wage increase-allowing them to achieve self-sufficiency. We cannot expect Americans to climb from poverty without giving them the necessary tools - education, skills training, and above all, adequate pay. Yet to reach the purchasing power it had in 1968, the minimum wage would have to be more than $3.00 more than it is today.

Jewish tradition teaches us to speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy. The more than 34.6 million Americans living in poverty, including 12.1 million children, are looking to Congress to help them improve their lives - by requiring that they are properly remunerated for their labor. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2004 is Congress' opportunity to heed their call and make the needs of low-income Americans a priority.

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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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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