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Resolutions & Amendments

42nd International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (2016)

Increase the Minimum Wage

Resolution No. 03
42nd International Convention
Las Vegas Convention Center
July 18 - 22, 2016
Las Vegas, NV


In addition to mandating the 40-hour work week and establishing child labor laws, the federal minimum wage was established in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage was created to ensure that all workers would be compensated fairly and that employment would provide a decent quality of life. Regular increases to the minimum wage were expected to guarantee that all workers not only benefited from improvements in living standards but that minimum pay kept pace with rising costs of living; and


Since 1938, the federal minimum wage has been increased only 22 times, and those adjustments were either inadequate or too infrequent. Adjusted for inflation, the current minimum wage is at the same level as it was in 1956 and reached its maximum inflation-adjusted value in 1968, when it was worth $10 .95 in today's dollars; and


About 1.3 million U.S. workers age 16 and over are working at the federal minimum wage and 1.7 million workers actually earned wages below the federal minimum standard. Together these workers make up four percent of all hourly paid workers. Sixty percent of minimum wage earners rely on help from programs like SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Overall, 70 percent of the benefits of social programs like Medicaid and SNAP go to working families; and


The average age of a worker making minimum wage is 35, nearly half are older than 30 and about a third are at least 40. Fifty-five percent of minimum wage earners are women and 19 percent of children live in minimum wage households. More than 50 percent of minimum wage earners are working full-time jobs and one-third are parents. The average minimum wage worker brings home half of his or her household's earnings; 19 percent are sole earners; and


The Economic Policy Institute estimates that even a slight increase to the federal minimum wage would create 85,000 jobs, boost the earnings of more than 35 million workers nationwide and generate more than $17 billion in annual savings to the federal government and assistance programs. A report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 900,000 people, roughly 300,000 households, would be lifted out of poverty by a minimum wage slightly higher than $10; and


Because efforts to raise the federal minimum wage have stalled on Capitol Hill, several states and cities are acting on their own to raise minimum pay rates. One hundred and forty cities have enacted living wage ordinances and 29 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum; and


As the movement to pay workers a more livable and respectful wage has gained momentum, especially with efforts like the Fight for $15 campaign, opposition from big business and corporations has been swift. Even though corporate profits have grown over 300 percent since 1968, organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are leading efforts to pass state laws that prohibit local or city governments from increasing the wage floor higher than the state-established minimum wage; and


Raising the federal minimum wage is an important part of strengthening the economy. A raise for minimum wage earners will put more money in more families' pockets, which will be spent on goods and services, stimulating economic growth locally and nationally; and


In an era when Wall Street bonuses are twice the amount earned by all minimum wage workers combined, it is clear that businesses can afford to boost the pay of their lowest paid workers.


That AFSCME supports efforts by cities and states to set their minimum wage above the federal level; and


That AFSCME will oppose efforts by state legislatures to restrict local governments from increasing minimum wage standards above the state minimum or similar efforts proposed by ALEC; and


That AFSCME strongly supports increasing the minimum wage, both federally and locally, and will work to ensure passage of legislation establishing high wage standards and specifically endorses the "Fight for $15;" and


That AFSCME will support and engage with local, state and federal campaigns to increase and index the federal minimum wage; and


That AFSCME supports efforts by states and cities across the nation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, including provisions to accelerate the implementation of the raise to immediately meet the needs of workers in private companies, including contractors, and throughout the public sector; and


That AFSCME urges all candidates on the local, state and federal level to make support for a $15 per hour minimum wage a prominent part of their campaign platform, and to work diligently to pass legislation once elected to office; and


That AFSCME locals and councils across the nation will actively support initiatives such as Fight for Fifteen, including helping to organize and mobilize workers who are engaged in this struggle.


Submitted by:

Danny Donohue, President and Delegate

Denise Berkley, Secretary and Delegate

CSEA/AFSCME Local 1000

New York


Ellen Larrimore, President and Delegate

Linda Loew, Recording Secretary and Delegate

Patricia Johnson, Treasurer and Delegate

Jeanette Hernandez, Delegate

Nick Poplawski, Delegate

Stacy Alikakos, Delegate

AFSCME Local 1989, Council 31