Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. Join the conversation about this issue on Twitter using #RaiseTheWage.
San Francisco is the most progressive city in America when it comes to addressing income inequality. And we will continue to make sure San Francisco remains a city affordable to the 100 percent.
President Obama understands that income inequality remains one of the great challenges of our time, and I’ve supported his efforts to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. There is no better time than right now to take action. As jobs and confidence are coming back, we must make sure that the residents in our cities are not left behind in the economic recovery.
Last week in my city, legislators, business leaders, labor unions and workers’ rights representatives joined me to introduce a fair and responsible consensus measure for the November 2014 ballot that will significantly raise San Francisco’s minimum wage. The rising cost of living is putting a financial squeeze on our city’s hardest working families, and this is a measure that will help them make ends meet. It’s the right thing to do.
We have taken up the president’s call to address income inequality at the local level – not just in my city, but in other cities across the nation. But we cannot leave anyone behind. That’s why I’ve introduced a resolution to be considered by the U.S. Conference of Mayors this weekend that calls on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. It was last set at $7.25 per hour nearly five years ago, and it no longer works. Since 2009, the costs for things like housing, transportation, food, utilities and child care have gone up.
Cities like mine are leading the way by providing a much needed boost to those at the bottom of the income ladder. Yet, rewarding a hard day’s work with fair pay is not only a morally right thing to do, it makes good economic sense. More money in the pockets of low-wage workers will be spent in local businesses, invigorating an economy that runs on consumer spending. Our national economy will never have the strength it needs until every working American – in East Coast and West Coast cities, and Northern and Southern cities, is earning a decent paycheck.
There’s a surging momentum on this issue as states and localities across the nation take action, backed by overwhelming public support and businesses that know it’s good for the bottom line. It’s time for Congress to act. I encourage my fellow mayors to agree to the resolution and send our representatives in Washington a message: the people know what’s best, and what’s best right now is to increase the national minimum wage.