US Senate Kills Minimum Wage Bill NH AFL-CIO President to Lawmakers: "Get a Conscience"

For Immediate release

Mark MacKenzie, President, NH AFL-CIO

June 21, 2006

The Labor community is outraged over the Senate’s defeat of a Democrat-supported bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour by Jan. 1, 2009.

“Congress has sat by for the last nine years and watched the buying power of the poor decline to a 51-year low all the while accepting salary increases for themselves,” New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said today.

“America needs a raise, and it is time for Congress to get a conscience,” President MacKenzie stated.

While 52 Senators – a majority of the Senate – approved the move to upgrade the minimum wage for the first time in nine years, 60 votes were needed to pass under procedural rules adopted earlier by the Senate’s Republican majority.

National AFL-CIO President John Sweeney rebuked the lawmakers for the defeat.

“It is simply scandalous that after nine years Senate Republicans still refuse to legislate a decent increase in the minimum wage,” he said.

“And then they try to don a political fig leaf with a smaller increase, but could not resist adding measures that would have stripped overtime and minimum wages protections from more than seven million workers and undermined the 40-hour work week,” President Sweeney continued. “Fortunately, that cynical move failed.”

Ironically, Congressmen have voted themselves total salary increases of $35,000 since 1997, when the minimum wage was last raised.

“Republicans should come out of the shadows and support a straightforward minimum wage increase that will give workers the raise they deserve, not one that provides political cover,” President Sweeney said. Increase of the state minimum wage is a primary legislative focus of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.