Starting pay is too low

Letter to the Editor
By Ana Aguayo
Springdale, AR
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Aug 8 2009
As a community organization dedicated to fighting for workers' rights and social justice, we at the Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center strongly support the struggle of low-wage income workers living in poverty.

We join Let Justice Roll, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 100 faith, community, labor and business organizations in leading state and national campaigns to increase the minimum wage closer to a living wage.

The July 24 raise to $7.25 per hour, the last of three such increases enacted by Congress in 2007, will help millions of workers cope with the rising price of food, housing and other basic items. It will be especially welcomed in Arkansas, which at $6.25 per hour has one of the lowest state minimum wages in the country. But even with extra earnings, it won't get many people out of poverty.

At the Workers Justice Center, we see how tough it is to live on a minimum wage when expenses keep rising and salaries are stagnant. Families often have to sacrifice to make it through the day. We also see that raising the minimum wage benefits local businesses, since low-wage workers spend their much-needed pay raises in neighborhoods where they live and work.

Raising the minimum wage is morally correct and also is the economically right thing to do.