A multi-state bus tour organized by a labor advocacy group kicked off Monday to lobby members of Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.
Americans United for Change began the “Give America a Raise” bus tour in Maine, stopping in both the cities of Bangor and Portland. These first stops are just two of the 18 locations across ten states that the 45-foot long, 16-ton “anti-poverty billboard on wheels” plans to make before it ends its tour at the U.S. Capitol on April 3.
Throughout the bus tour, U.S. senators, candidates for senator and governor, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka as well as other elected officials and labor leaders are expected to speak — all urging Republicans to back legislation that would hike the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.
In an effort to put increased pressure on the GOP, AUC has scheduled some of the rallies to take place in front of Republicans’ local district offices.
Brad Woodhouse, the President of Americans United for Change, warned that Republicans who did not endorse the legislation would face consequences.
He said in a statement, “All that stands in the way of stronger economy built from the middle out are Tea Party Republicans in Congress who only seem to care about minimum tax responsibility for huge corporations that outsource jobs.”
“But if these Republicans don’t care to support this effective policy towards creating jobs in their states, maybe they will care about keeping their own job. Perhaps the surest job retention strategies for these Republicans would be to give their constituents a raise and pave the way for more jobs,” Woodhouse added.
Republicans argue that raising the minimum wage will actually harm the people the measure is intended to help by eliminating low-skill jobs from the workforce.
Bolstering the Republicans’ stance on the issue, the Congressional Budget Office recently found that if the federal minimum were raised to the proposed $10.10 an hour, an estimated 500,000 jobs would be cut from the labor market.
“I think that at this point any serious observer has to say that this is going to have a pretty negative impact on employment,” Michael Saltsman, the research director at the Employment Policies Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And I think that groups that are proponents of this realize that the momentum is slipping away from the issue, so this bus tour is an attempt to get it back.”
Saltsman said the bus tour is part of an election year strategy.
“It is entirely about elections,” he said. “You have a coalition of labor groups that are reliable water carriers for the Democratic Party who have decided to go on the road to try and create emotional support for this policy” because the economic support is waning.
TheDCNF was unable to reach Americans United for Change for comment.
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