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Obama Labor Day message urges Congress to raise minimum wage

On Saturday at the White House in Washington D.C. in his weekly address to the nation, U.S. President Barack Obama in honor of Labor Day reminded workers across the country to not take hard-won labor rights for granted. In addition, he again called upon republicans in Congress to join with democrats to raise the federal minimum wage for millions of hard-working Americans.

U.S. President Barack Obama reviews material prior to his Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office of the White House, Aug 29, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama reviews material prior to his Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office of the White House, Aug 29, 2014.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

“The things we often take for granted – Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends – we didn’t always have these things,” President Obama stated. Continuing, he said, “Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them. And those fights built a stronger middle class.

“To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody. The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility. The right to a fair living wage,” Obama added.

The President remarked on the many efforts across the country by state and local governments as well as by private businesses to raise minimum wages to varying degrees. In addition, he noted, in the states where the minimum wage has been raised job growth has also increased, nullifying the false argument being spread by many republicans that wage increases would reduce job growth.

“In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty,” Obama remarked. “A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families. It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses. And that grows the economy for everyone.”

Attempting to work with Congress to pass a minimum wage increase has been a primary goal of the President in his second term in office. Across the country and in poll after poll, a large majority of Americans have indicated their support of a minimum wage increase. According to CNN in a June poll, even a majority of republicans support an increase in the minimum wage. However, in their strategy to deny the passage of any legislation supported by President Obama, the vast majority of republicans in Congress have blocked every attempt for such an increase to occur.