Himes wants to force a vote to raise federal minimum wage

Congressman Jim Himes, who represents most of Shelton, has signed a discharge petition asking for an immediate vote on a bill to lift the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1010), of which Himes is a co-sponsor, would increase the minimum wage at the national level in stages — to $8.20 per hour three months after passage, $9.20 after one year, and $10.10 after two years.

“After the worst recession in a generation, our economic recovery has left many working families behind,” said Himes, a three-term Democrat. “People who work hard should not have to struggle to meet their basic needs. They deserve and need a vote on this bill.”

Purchasing power of working families

Himes said the proposed legislation — largely backed by Democrats — would raise the purchasing power of minimum wage salaries to help working families afford more basic necessities. He said if adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage would have to be $10.74 per hour to surpass its high in 1968.

The proposed bill also gives the U.S. labor secretary authority to increase the minimum wage based on the Consumer Price Index if warranted, up to every three years.

Finally, the bill increases the tipped minimum wage to $3 per hour and also introduces a formula to increase tipped minimum wage as necessary to keep it at 70% of the overall minimum wage.

A discharge petition needs the support of 218 members to force a vote. So far 155 members have signed this petition.

‘Creates demand in the marketplace’

“The economic benefits of raising the minimum wage reach far beyond any individual family,” Himes said. “When a working family brings in more money, that’s more they have to spend on necessities like groceries and gas, which they otherwise would have had to go without.

“This creates demand in the marketplace, which help our businesses to grow and hire more workers,” he said.

Himes: Income inequality growing

According to Himes, income inequality has grown steadily since the 1980s, with $1.1 trillion in annual income shifting to the top 1% of households from 1979 to 2007.

Himes points to studies showing that increasing the minimum wage increases worker productivity and reduces employee turnover, and would have no significant effect on employment levels.

The federal minimum wage was last re-set in July 24 2009, to $7.25 per hour. A full-time worker earning $7.25 per hour makes $290 per week or $15,080 per year.

With many minimum wage jobs not providing benefits and the costs of healthcare continuing to rise, Himes said, it is essentially impossible for these workers to make ends meet from week to week.

Shelton is in two congressional districts

The city of Shelton is divided between two congressional districts.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes lives in Greenwich and was first elected to Congress in 2008. He represents the Fourth District, which includes most of Fairfield County.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro lives in New Haven and was first elected to Congress in 1990. Also a Democrat, she represents the Third District, which is centered in New Haven County.