Washington, DC – Despite the rising cost of food and other essentials, federal legislation to raise the minimum wage has been stalled for more than a decade, resulting in a national floor of $7.25 an hour for workers across the country. Sunday, July 24 will mark 13 years since the last time Congress passed a federal minimum wage increase.
Meanwhile, voters have been taking matters into their own hands to pass wage increases at the state level. Since 2016 Fairness Project has supported nine voter-driven ballot measures to increase the minimum wage, and as a result, put more than $22 billion in the pockets of workers.
“Working people cannot wait for Congress to get its act together: they need to put food on the table, pay the bills, and care for their families,” said Kelly Hall, Executive Director of the Fairness Project. “We have helped to put more than $22 billion in the pockets of the American people because when given the choice on their ballot, they choose higher wages. Voters know that increasing the minimum wage is the right thing to do, even though their representatives in statehouses and in Washington, D.C. continue to sit on their hands. We haven’t seen a federal minimum wage increase in over a decade, and while that is an economic and moral travesty, we know that the path forward is through direct democracy at the ballot box.”
This year, the Fairness Project is supporting Raise the Wage Nebraska, which recently submitted more than 150,000 signatures from all 93 counties to place a ballot measure raising Nebraska’s minimum wage to $15 on the November ballot. This past November, voters in Tucson approved a Fairness Project-backed minimum wage increase with 65% of the vote. By winning minimum wage campaigns in nine states, the Fairness Project’s work has benefited nearly 10 million workers directly.
The Fairness Project won the following campaigns to raise the minimum wage:
Tucson, Arizona Minimum Wage (2021)
The Fairness Project worked with the Tucson Fight for $15 campaign to pass a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The ballot measure, Proposition 206, was approved by voters on November 2, 2021 by a 63%-37% margin.
Arizona Minimum Wage and Paid Leave (2016)
The Fairness Project worked with Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families on a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour for 779,000 Arizonans, and bring 40 hours of sick leave per year to employees of large companies, and 24 hours of sick leave per year to employees of small companies, affecting 934,000 Arizonans. After the wage hit $12 an hour in 2020, the measure calls for annual adjustments to keep pace with the cost of living. The Fair Wages & Healthy Families Act was voted into law November 8, 2016 by a margin of 59%-41%.
Arkansas Minimum Wage (2018)
The Fairness Project supported the Arkansans for a Fair Wage campaign to pass a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage in the state from $8.50 an hour in 2018 to $11 an hour in 2021. The measure, Issue 5, was approved by voters by a margin of 68%-32% and has raised wages for more than 300,000 people.
California Minimum Wage (2016)
The Fairness Project worked with the Lift Up California coalition on a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for 6 million Californians. After the campaign collected the 365,880 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California legislature enacted the $15 per hour wage. Both Brown and legislative leaders said publicly that the new law was in direct response to the minimum wage initiative qualifying for the ballot. The wage has gradually increased from $10 an hour in 2016 to $15 an hour in 2022. The law also indexes the wage to inflation, up to 3.5% a year, in future years.
Colorado Minimum Wage (2016)
The Fairness Project helped win a ballot measure, Amendment 70, to raise the minimum wage from $8.31 per hour in 2016 to $12 per hour in 2020, delivering pay increases for nearly 500,000 Coloradan workers. Voters approved the measure by a margin of 55%-45%.
Maine Minimum Wage (2020)
The Fairness Project worked with local partners on a ballot initiative to gradually increase the minimum wage from $7.50 in 2016 to $12 an hour in 2020 for 181,000 Mainers.
Massachusetts Minimum Wage (2018)
The Fairness Project worked with Raise Up Massachusetts and provided early contributions to help raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The ballot measure campaign, and its successful signature collection effort, led to the passage of legislation to enact the increase and enact paid family and medical leave. The minimum wage will gradually increase from $11 an hour in 2018 to $15 an hour by 2023.
Missouri Minimum Wage (2018)
In 2018, The Fairness Project worked with local partners to pass a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage from $7.85 an hour in 2018 to $12 an hour in 2023 for 677,000 Missourians.
Washington Minimum Wage and Paid Leave (2016)
The Fairness Project worked with Raise Up Washington on a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage for workers age 18 and over from $9.47 an hour in 2016 to $13.50 an hour in 2020 for 1 million Washingtonians. The initiative also provides paid sick leave for 1 million workers. After 2020, the wage is adjusted to keep pace with the cost of living. Initiative 1433 was voted into law Nov. 8, 2016 by a margin of 58%-42%.