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U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez writes:
"I've met with these workers. I've looked into their eyes and seen their pride and their dignity, but also their distress and anxiety. 'I worked there for 16 years,' one woman said of her employer. 'I raised my children doing this. And now I find myself homeless and just trying to get back on my feet.' One man asked: 'Why are we working full-time and have to apply for food stamps?' Another spoke of coming to work despite burn marks on his arm, the flu and a sprained tendon in his elbow: 'I can't afford to take off work,” he said. 'I can’t miss any days.'"
President Obama is focusing on drawing attention to the growing gap between the rich and the poor. His recent proposal would boost the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour – not quite the $15 called for from some protestors, but an improvement on the current wage.
CNN reports that in a recent speech at the Center for American Progress, Obama called making the U.S. economy work for every American "the defining challenge of our time." The "dangerous and growing" income gap undermines the idea that people who work hard can get ahead, he said.
Some states already mandate a higher wage than the federal minimum. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey have all voted to raise the minimum wage in the past year. California recently passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
Secretary Perez invites supporters to chime in at #MWRaise on Facebook or Twitter.
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