Today, I met with a group of men and women who work out at the airport. They clean the planes, serve as wheelchair attendants – do many of the jobs that we often take for granted.
But despite their hard work and long hours, many of them still fall below the poverty line. One worker, Milka, is a mother of three. She has worked full-time for the last six years cleaning planes, and said every day is a struggle just to put food on the table. She told me she constantly worries about giving her kids a chance at a better life.
That is because Milka is one of the thousands of minimum wage workers across the Commonwealth.
I believe the time to act is now. The Legislature should make raising the minimum wage their first order of business when they return in January.
The minimum wage in Massachusetts has stagnated while the costs of living for working families have skyrocketed. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center found that the real value of the minimum wage today is 25% below what it was in 1968. To put it more starkly, Massachusetts’s full-time minimum wage workers are making $5,000 less today than they would have in 1968.
Massachusetts has been through a difficult economy, and we are poised to take off. The decisions we make now will determine whether every child and every family is given a fair opportunity to succeed.
Passing an increase to the minimum wage is a critical first step to ensuring that our economic recovery is felt by all working families, not just those at the top.
The Senate voted to phase in a wage increase from $8 to $11 by 2016, and then index it to inflation. That was a good step. Now it’s time to finish the job.
Working families can’t afford to wait any longer.