“A job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. We must raise the federal minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour,” Sanders tweeted.
“That is why I, along with many other members of Congress, will introduce legislation this week to raise that wage to $15 an hour. If you work 40 hours a week, you should not live in poverty,” said the Senator and potential 2020 presidential candidate.
Though Democrats, who the independent Bernie coalitions with, now control the House it will likely die in the Senate where Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage.
Bernie had introduced similar legislation in 2015 and 2017 but both bills stalled. These bills were previously co-sponsored by Democrats who are also other possible 2020 contenders such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
The federal minimum wage went to US$7.25 per hour in 2009, though 29 states and Washington, D.C. have adopted a higher rate.
Sanders challenged Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary race, and has supported fast-food workers “Fight for $15” movement they initiated in 2012. Many cities, including New York, are now committed to increasing their minimum wage rate to US$15.
Opponents say a US$15 minimum wage would require businesses to raise prices or cut staff to offset the additional costs. However, Sanders’ bill would gradually raise the wage rate which wouldn’t reach US$15 the hour until 2024—five years off.
In October, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon upped the minimum wage to US$15 an hour for its 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal employees. Bezos had an annual salary of US$81,840 in 2017. He owns 80 million shares of Amazon stock hand as an estimated net worth of US$165 billion.
Sanders has also called on Walmart and McDonald’s to raise their wages, according to NBC. He and Representative Elijah Cummings introduced legislation last week lower the cost of prescription drugs for U.S. consumers.