I am a proponent of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Vermont. While serving as a state representative in the 2013-14 biennium, I voted in favor of raising the minimum wage from $8.40 to $10.10 over three years and then a Cost of Living increase took over from there. Unfortunately, because we are so behind in raising wages, minimum wage earners in 2020 simply cannot survive on this income.
A single person earning the current $10.96 an hour for 40 weeks ($438.40 a week or $22,796 a year before taxes) is eligible for SNAP benefits! If they have a family, the need for state help increases substantially. I believe that all workers deserve the dignity of working for enough wages to support themselves without having to depend on state supports. In effect, government is subsidizing employers who don’t pay their workers enough.
The minimum wage is also a racial, gender, and disability justice issue, too, because it largely affects workers who are women, of color, or with disabilities.
In 1933, 87 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that “no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” I think that Vermonters deserve dignified, equitable working conditions. Anyone working 40 hours a week ought to be able to afford their basic needs.”
“By ‘business’ I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of decent living,” he stated.
It’s time to raise the minimum wage in Vermont so that workers can earn a respectable living. It’s the right thing to do.