9to5 Member Gives Congress Dose of Reality on How Working Families Live
Senate Committee Hearing on “Keeping up with a Changing Economy:Indexing the Minimum Wage”
WASHINGTON, March 14, 2013 —9to5 Atlanta member Carolle Fleurio testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Thursday, March 14, on the importance of an indexed minimum wage. Fleurio, a cook at a family restaurant in Stockbridge, Georgia, shared her struggles to support her family on wages that have not kept pace with the rise in the cost of living.
Early last week, Senator Harkin and Representative Miller introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25, and index it to inflation in the future so that low-wage workers do not continue to fall behind. The Act will also raise the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years, restoring the value to 70 percent of the regular wage.
Earning $8 an hour, Fleurio has to support her husband who is on disability, two daughters, grandmother and niece. Her paycheck barely covers her mortgage, utilities, gas and food. Sometimes, she has to make a choice between which bills to pay. “Some months, my wages just aren’t enough to cover our expenses, even though I try very hard to keep our bills as low as possible,” says Fleurio. “I have to make hard choices on which bills will be paid and which bills will just have to wait. Some months we simply can’t pay the mortgage on time. This is very stressful for all of us. My husband and I must keep a roof over the heads of all of our family.”
Fleurio who doesn’t get a single paid day off, even after seven years on the job, sacrificed a day’s wages to make the trip to Washington, D.C. She hopes that her testimony will promote policy change that will help millions of workers support their families and live a more economically secure life.
Women made up nearly two-thirds of workers paid minimum wage or less in 2012. More than half (17 million) of the 30 million American workers to get a raise under the Fair Minimum Wage Act are women. There are millions of women like Fleurio working full-time, but scraping by on wages that barely meet their basic necessities. These women provide essential services in our communities — they clean our homes and offices, cook and serve us our food, and care for our children and elderly parents. Raising the minimum wage will help families still reeling from the effects of the recession and provide a much-needed boost to the economy. Lower-income families will spend their extra wages on needed goods and services that other workers provide, creating 140,000 new jobs.
“Women today are working harder than ever, yet too many of us can’t make ends meet, said Linda Meric, national executive director of 9to5. “9to5 members like Carolle want to support their families and build a better future. Her efforts along with our other member-led campaigns will benefit all working families by creating equitable, family-friendly workplaces that pave a better future for all women and working families.”
About 9to5: With forty years’ experience in winning justice for working women, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families. 9to5 organizes women to lead campaigns for family-supporting jobs with decent wages and paid sick days; stronger protections against workplace discrimination; and a strong safety net for low-income families. As one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S., we’ve won real changes since the hit song and movie based on 9to5 hit the charts. To learn more or to get involved, visit 9to5.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.