Here is some good news for restaurant workers who have been fighting for a bigger paycheck: Ben & Jerry's-backed presidential candidate senator Bernie Sanders is trying to raise the federal minimum wage. According to a press release, Sanders introduced legislation today that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for everyone from fast food workers to restaurant servers to food cart vendors. CNN writes that the senator is currently striking with contract workers seeking higher wages in the U.S. Capitol.
The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage
Sanders addressed the crowd at a rally in the Capitol today proclaiming, "It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills." This statement is especially poignant in the Capitol where many of its food workers must take on an additional job to make ends meet. Sanders continued, "In the year 2015, a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage."
CNN writes that in addition to a higher minimum wage, Sanders' legislation calls for President Obama to "issue an executive order that would reward companies with federal contracts" if they agree to pay their employees $15, as well as give them the right to unionize. Fast food workers have launched a number of large, nationwide strikes over the past few years in the hopes of achieving both of those provisions.
Fellow democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out in support of the Fight for $15 campaign back in April, but told Buzzfeed last Thursday, that "there are different economic environments. And what you can do in L.A. or in New York may not work in other places."
A number of other politicians seem to agree with Sanders even though this is a controversial topic. Cities like Seattle have already raised the local minimum wage to that level. Other politicians — like New York governor Andrew Cuomo — have faced resistance from legislators, and are taking matters into their own hands. Cuomo announced in May that he would circumvent lawmakers and convene a panel to determine how much to raise the minimum wage for the fast food industry. The recommendations of the panel would then go into effect without legislative approval.