WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in introducing the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
A study conducted by the Commonwealth Institute found that approximately 1,018,000 Virginians would have their wages raised under the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, while another 254,000 Virginians who make just above the new minimum would see increases as well as employers seek to maintain wage scales and reward seniority. Combined, one in every three working people in Virginia will benefit from raising the wage. The vast majority of Virginians who would benefit are working adults helping to support themselves and their families – 92 percent are age 20 or older and 89 percent are working at least 20 hours a week. In Virginia, the General Assembly approved a gradual increase to the hourly minimum wage beginning May 1, 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered the economic disparities that already exist in this country. In the midst of an unprecedented economic and health crisis that has pushed millions of workers to the brink of poverty, the least we can do is ensure that our minimum wage is a living wage that allows folks who work a full-time job to make ends meet,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why I joined my colleagues in introducing a bill that will help expand economic opportunity for more families.”
“Every day, millions of hardworking Americans struggle to put food on the table or pay the rent. These hardships have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Kaine. “Raising the minimum wage will stimulate our economy and give people a fair shot at economic mobility.”
Specifically, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the federal minimum wage over a four-year period from $7.25 to $15. It would also index future increases in the federal minimum wage to median wage growth in addition to phasing out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. According to an independent analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase wages for nearly 32 million Americans, including roughly a third of all Black workers and a quarter of all Latino workers.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker, (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy, (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).