Barber concerned about Biden’s commitment to $15 per hour minimum wage hike!
By Cash Michaels
Last month, right before and shortly after his inauguration, President Joe Biden made clear that he strongly supported increasing the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $15.00 per hour, as many in the progressive movement, like Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-convener of the Poor People’s Campaign had been urging him to do during the presidential campaign.
“There are 62 million people in this country, who make less than a living wage. This the right thing to do,’ Rev. Barber said then. “If It is radical (as Republicans charge that it is), it is radical love.”
Biden was initially hoping that his $15.00 per hour campaign pledge would be passed along with the rest of his enormous $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Congress is expected to take up shortly by March. But not surprisingly, there is now pushback from moderate Senate Democrats, forcing Biden to remove the $15.00/hour proposal from the almost $2 trillion relief package, and possibly float as a standalone bill where the minimum wage increase is phased in over several years, instead of imposed all at once.
Two weeks ago, Biden told CBS News that he will not be able to get the 60 votes needed in the U.S. Senate to pass the measure.
Progressives like Rev. Barber, who once lauded Biden for his concern about poor people’s issues, are now sounding the alarm, fearing that after coming so close, their dream of a $15/hour minimum wage will fall short of the finish line.
Calling the fight for the $15/hour minimum living wage “…as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Rev. Barber led a demonstration Monday at the West Virginia office of moderate Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who has flatly rejected supporting the $15/hour minimum wage.
“We cannot get this close and then fall back,” Barber said in the lead to Monday’s demonstration. “We say to President Biden, to Democrats, and to Republicans: don’t turn your back on the $15 an hour minimum wage.”
Rev. Barber continued, reminding all that “55% of poor, low-wealth people voted for the current administration and its promise to raise the minimum wage. That is the mandate. The mandate is in the people who voted, not in the back slapping of Senators and Congresspeople. It’s the people who voted.”
“We have to act like we have one shot on this. Tomorrow is not promised. It’s time to push with every non-violent tool.”
“Poor and low-income people were the first to return to work, the first to be infected, and the first to die in the pandemic, and they must not be last in line for relief. This administration and Congress must respect us, protect us and pay us.”