What to know about the minimum wage increase taking effect Aug. 1

CTUL (Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En Lucha) and our allies in the Raise the Wage Coalition are excited by the news that the minimum wage will be annually raised to the point of $9.50/hour by 2016 and indexed to inflation by 2018. The minimum wage will go up incrementally, with the first raise happening Aug. 1, 2014. 

But at CTUL we want to stress that this does not mean the struggle is over. Even the higher wage will still leave vast numbers of workers, especially among communities of color, in poverty. And, tragically but true, it is these very communities most in danger from the plague of wage theft. A recent study has revealed that low wage workers lose an average of $50 per week (or 1,634 per year) to wage theft. Owed overtime is often not paid, and wages paid are often less then the existing legally mandated minimum.

The forces that have been benefiting from the hard lives of these workers have not suddenly become activated to always do the right thing for them. We must be just as determined to fight back and take control of our destinies.

CTUL and our allies have proven that low-wage workers, and their supporters, united can achieve great things; improve our lives by recovering over $1 million in stolen wages, changing official company policies and practices, and more. Now we are faced with another challenge; to maintain and assure the enforcement of the new minimum wage, and to build upon them; to continue to make sure that the struggles we have endured to get these positive changes will not have been in vain or without purpose.

CTUL is launching a new organizing program, training workers to be Workplace Rights Defenders who will document the reality that is taking place in workplaces throughout the Twin Cities and will ensure that the new minimum wage is enforced. If you currently work at a minimum wage job, pay attention over the next few weeks to make sure you get the increase. For large businesses (businesses that make more than $500,000), minimum wage will got up as follows:

·      Aug. 1, 2014 – $8.00/hour

·      Aug. 1, 2015 – $9.00/hour

·      Aug. 1, 2016 – $9.50/hour

·      Starting in 2018 the minimum wage will go up each year with inflation, with a maximum increase of 2.5 percent.

We have gotten this far by believing we can change our lives, but we are not all the way yet. We can get there if we continue the struggle, and build a better future for ourselves and future generations. We can achieve everything we truly believe we can and are willing to fight for. Si Se Puede!! 

Joseph Bunce is a member of the CTUL Board. CTUL is a low-wage worker-led organization that is fighting for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers. If you have any questions about your workplace rights, contact CTUL at 612-332-0663, or the website: www.ctul.net