On May 25, Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced “Raise the Wage” bills in their respective chambers (S. 1242/H.R.15). The bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, phased in over seven years. After the initial phase in, the minimum wage would increase based on the median hourly wages of all employees, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Tipped employees would also see an increase in wages phased in at a slower pace, but with the intention that the tipped minimum wage would match the regular minimum wage after it reaches $15/hour.
The bill would also phase out the use of 14(c) special certificates which permit employers to pay lower wages for employees with disabilities under certain conditions. The bill would not permit any new subminimum wage certificates to be issued, and phase out their use for current certificate holders over a six year period. A fact sheet released by the Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee details a schedule for increasing 14(c) wages over the phase out period.
Neither the House or the Senate bill have any Republican co-sponsors, and are unlikely to advance in the current Congress. They are largely viewed as “messaging” bills that seek to start a conversation regarding wage and hour law reform, but that are unlikely to change the law given the current makeup of the Congress.
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