Working to raise the minimum wage

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Pam Jochum, guest columnist

This week marked the seven-year anniversary of the last time the federal government granted hardworking Americans a raise. Since May 25th, 2009 the federal minimum wage has remained frozen at $7.25 an hour. Here in Iowa, despite efforts in the Iowa Senate to raise the state’s minimum wage, Iowa families continue to attempt survival on the minimum wage allocated by the federal government.

The minimum wage isn’t about high schoolers or lazy people. It’s about families. It’s about the mothers and fathers who work 40 hours each and every week, doing anything from flipping burgers to filing paperwork, and yet still worry about paying for health care, housing, even food. It’s about the single parents working two full time jobs just to pay for the basic needs of life for their children, and who never get to see them as a result. It’s about our friends and neighbors all across this state who work as hard as anyone, and yet struggle far too much.

As Democrats, we believe in fairness and giving everyone a fair shot at a better life and a brighter future. In fact, Democrats in Iowa increased the minimum wage in the state in 2007 and 2008, before Congress even acted. It was our first priority when we controlled the House, Senate, and Governorship, and I was proud to floor manage the bill that made it happen. earned.

Democrats understand the struggles of working families. We know that not having to worry 24/7 about the next doctor’s visit or grocery bill makes for a better environment for our kids. Republicans operate under a different business model, and most oppose raising the minimum wage. Some Republicans are ready to nix the minimum wage altogether. Their stance on this issue highlights just how out-of-touch they are with hardworking Iowa families and the rising costs they face.

In order to advance their anti-worker agenda, conservatives have put forth misleading propaganda regarding the minimum wage issue. They promote a false argument that the only people earning a minimum wage are teenagers working part-time jobs. Last week, the Iowa Policy Project debunked some of these myths with data and statistics that showed raising the wage would most benefit full-time workers and parents. The study also poked holes in the anti-business argument with findings that revealed raising the wage reduces employee turnover and hiring costs for business owners. In reality, it is a win-win situation for employees and business owners.

Seven years is too long for Iowans to wait to be rewarded for their hard work. Iowa Senate Democrats have led the way on increasing Iowa’s minimum wage, and last year we passed an increase that was then killed by House Republicans. We will fight to keep the conversation going next legislative session and pass the increase in the minimum wage that Iowans deserve. Hardworking Iowa families fighting to survive on the $7.25/hour should be able to spend their extra time with their loved ones, not fighting for basic dignity. That’s why Democrats in the Iowa Senate will have their backs and wage that battle, and we will keep fighting until every Iowan who works 40 hours a week feels like their work is being valued.

• Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) is president of the Iowa Senate. Comments: Pam.Jochum@legis.iowa.gov

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