Hi, everyone –
This Labor Day, I’m thinking about Austraberta.
I had breakfast at Austraberta Rodriguez’s home in Houston two weeks ago. She’s worked as a janitor for more than 30 years, and for most of that time, her wages put her below the poverty level. Every cent she’s earned has gone toward providing the basics for her children and grandchildren. Today, she’s still earning the minimum wage — which, in Texas, is just $7.25 an hour.
Austraberta told me over breakfast that a national minimum wage increase would mean more bread for her family. She said a few more dollars an hour would be “incredible.” That raise wouldn’t just go toward making Austraberta’s life a little better. It would improve the odds for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren too.
Austraberta’s struggle is our struggle. On Labor Day, we celebrate all workers nationwide who contribute to our strength and prosperity. Because whether you made the burger or someone served it to you, whether you’re driving the bus or riding on it, whether you’re sweeping the floor or working in the clean office, you have a part to play.
So today, if you’re ready for a country that does right by Austraberta and the nearly 28 million Americans who stand to benefit from a $10.10 minimum wage, then honor them by adding your name here.
A higher minimum wage doesn’t just help workers like Austraberta. It helps the businesses they work for too. It improves employee morale, productivity, and customer service. It reduces turnover, absenteeism, and training costs.
And besides, when working families have more money in their pockets, they pump it right back into their local economies. They spend it on goods and services where they live. And that helps the businesses providing those goods and services to grow. And that creates more jobs.
But it all starts with making good on that basic bargain: If you work hard and play by the rules, you shouldn’t have to raise your family in poverty.
The President is doing his part, with an Executive Order that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 for private-sector workers on federal contracts.
Today, more than a century after its inception, we still haven’t identified the true “founder” of Labor Day, and maybe that’s fitting. Because today isn’t about one person. It’s about every American who’s working hard to get ahead — and it’s about the progress we can make when we work together.
Happy Labor Day. Let’s continue standing with our workers not just on the first Monday in September, but every day of the year.
Secretary Tom Perez
Department of Labor