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Here’s Why a $15 Minimum Wage Increase Is Important and Why It’s So Hard to Enact

I don't make the rules. Those with money do.

Workers Across The Country Demonstrate For Higher Minimum Wage

Out of the many things that COVID-19 has exposed, I did not see economic disparity on my bingo card. I should have, because disparities like this are front and center when disaster hits, and it’s super important to have a conversation on why a push for $15 minimum wage for workers is essential in improving quality of life, while being realistic about how hard it is to get it done because those with money have the power.

At the core of this disparity is the fact that the ones on the front lines are the ones who are getting paid the bare minimum—not a living wage. They are the ones who have been feeding us during the pandemic; think of every fast food pickup and Doordash order and who has to make that food. Essential workers have been caring for us, serving us, and cleaning up after us. Meanwhile, they risk getting COVID-19 and not having the resources required to care for themselves or their families.

Imagine if someone being paid the minimum wage of $7.25 gets COVID-19. They won’t have the same kind of savings as someone who is making more than minimum wage. They’re already working just to survive and getting COVID-19 would put a strain on their finances that they might never recover from, and that could put their livelihood, home, and ability to care for their families in danger.

That’s why raising the minimum wage to $15 is so important. It gives the ones who are just getting by a chance to actually live, and if they get COVID-19 or their family members do, they have a higher chance of kicking it to the curb. It’s about giving relief to our most vulnerable of populations and, according to a government report, could lift nearly 1 million Americans out of poverty.

Keeping all of that in mind, even President Joe Biden himself is realistic when it comes to a $15 minimum wage increase and its unlikely status in the COVID-19 relief bill. There are too many intra-party disputes on this increase, and there are some who are against the increase in general on the basis that businesses will just cut jobs in response.

At the end of the day, the biggest blockade when it comes to increasing the minimum wage to $15 is businesses themselves. According to them and the Republicans who oppose a minimum wage increase, the more they have to pay employees, the more the cost will go to the consumer. They claim that will, in turn, hurt low-wage workers who are just looking for enough money to live on instead of just barely making it through the day. It’s an argument that the exploitation of workers is inevitable and justified, which is repulsive.

And since money is power, the ones at the top will continue making the rules while those below suffer and risk getting COVID-19 because what other choice do they have? My hope is that those so concerned with businesses understand that those who work for us, care for us, and feed us deserve the same quality of life or chance to survive as those who don’t have to worry about making it through the day, and we can and should raise our stagnant minimum wage.

Only then will we be at a place where we honor our workers and give them a chance to thrive and live the American dream.

(image: David McNew/Getty)

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Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.