Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shameful Attack on Minimum Wage

For the first time in Arkansas history, legislation has been introduced to reduce the minimum wage for hourly employees by 49 cents an hour.

AFSCME was among the leadership of the religious groups and labor unions that drafted and collected signatures last year to offer a constitutional amendment raising the Arkansas Minimum Wage, but we suspended that effort in favor of legislation that was enacted during the 2006 Special Session. Among the provisions opposed by AFSCME Local 965 but demanded by the Chamber of Commerce and business interests and accepted by legislative leaders was a Sub-Minimum Wage of $2.62 per hour for employees who might also receive tip income for services.

Now the business and corporate special interests want even more out of the hide of workers; they want to CUT the Arkansas Sub-Minimum Wage to a paltry $2.13 per hour—that would be a total paycheck of $85.20 before taxes for a 40-hour work week. It is shameful that nine Democrats have joined 10 Republicans in sponsoring Senate Bill 361.

We are pleased to see that Representative Lindsley Smith (D-Fayetteville) has already announced her opposition to Senate Bill 361. We trust that other legislative supporters of working families in Arkansas will join her in publicly opposing this attack on workers in the service industry.

It is deeply disappointing that Senator Sue Madison and Representative Marilyn Edwards are co-sponsors of this disgraceful attack on low-wage workers. They falsely claim that the legislation “is necessary to protect jobs within the State of Arkansas, prevent an increase in costs to residents and tourists that patronize restaurants, and protect the financial stability of businesses that rely on the services provided by tipped employees.” We have heard those deceitful arguments from Republicans and big business ever since FDR’s first minimum wage law was enacted over their opposition. They ring equally hollow and equally cruel today. What about the quality of life for hourly employees who would receive $19.60 less each week?

Write to Senator Madison and Representative Edwards today and remind them that the Platform of the Democratic Party of Arkansas adopted in 2006 declares, “We strongly advocate that workers and their families be supported by fair compensation through a living wage and provision of benefits. Ask them to remove their names as co-sponsors of this dishonorable attack on working families and to vote against the bill.

Senator Sue Madison:

Rep. Marilyn Edwards:


Phalcon said...

Absolutely disgraceful.

A single person on their own would have difficulty getting by on 10.00 hr these days.

Anonymous said...

Edwards is a whore for the Chamber of Commerce. She sponsored this bill, and she was the only Fayetteville legislator who didn't vote against the SWEPCO bill to allow them to build those huge towers without a hearing. She is a good reason for term limits.