Minimum Wage Letter from Ralph Nader to President Obama

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C.

September 4, 2014

Dear President Obama,

After years of advocacy by citizen and labor groups, your party has finally made raising the minimum wage for tens of millions of American workers an election issue for the coming midterms. The question remains, though: will raising the minimum wage simply be that ­­ an ‘issue’ with which to slam Republicans without any legislative effort ­­ or will it actually be a top legislative priority this


If you and other party leaders are serious about raising the federal minimum wage, you will quickly move beyond rhetoric about raising wages and focus on the concrete pending legislative path to a modest minimum wage raise to $10.10 an hour over three years: namely, Rep. Tim Bishop’s discharge petition to bring raising the minimum wage to a vote. Rep. Bishop’s petition has 195 signatures already and needs only 23 more to bypass Speaker Boehner’s obstruction and force a vote on raising the minimum wage. These 23 signatures are the direct path to a long­awaited raise for millions of American workers: in the words of Rep. George Miller, who sponsored the bill, “when it comes to the floor, it will pass… we just need a vote.” Passage in the House will ensure the 60 votes needed for Senate passage for by then the political and electoral heat will get the needed fence­sitting Senators. And yet, since the petition’s introduction in late February, there has been little to no effort by Democratic leaders to pressure poverty­ and labor­minded Republicans to sign. You did not even mention HR 1010 or its discharge petition in your Labor Day speech on the minimum wage.

With a modicum of the usual varieties of direct pressure around the discharge petition from Democratic leaders and their circle of supporters, these 23 signatures would not be difficult to acquire. After all, 70­80% of Americans support raising the minimum wage, including Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Bill O’Reilly. There needs to be an intensity about this winnable effort.

To help, we have outlined 55 Republicans most likely to sign at Among the 55: four House Democrats who have yet to sign the petition, six House Republicans who authored a letter in 2006 saying “nobody working full time should have to live in poverty; 17 House Republicans from districts you carried in 2012; dozens more House Republicans who have voted and spoken in favor of raising the minimum wage in the past; and many House Republicans who broke ranks to vote against food stamp cuts last Fall.

It’s one thing to give minimum wage workers ever­stronger speech­making; it’s quite another to highlight in your remarks and push seriously for ready legislation by name. If you are truly serious about passing H.R. 1010, prioritize HR1010’s discharge petition during the September House session and secure the final 23 signatures so that the 30 million workers making less today ­­ adjusted for inflation ­­ than workers made in 1968 can get the vote they long have deserved on a much­needed raise to pay
for their necessities of life. The country is ready to rise behind you on this moral and economic issue.


Ralph Nader
P. O. Box 19312, Washington, D.C. 20036

CC: Vice President Biden Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Majority Leader Harry Reid Rep. Steve Israel
Senator Michael Bennet