Minimum wage hike

To the Editor:

With the imminent control of the U.S. Congress by Republicans, it is a sure bet they will steer clear of raising the minimum hourly wage from the poverty-level $7.50 to a still paltry $10.10. That increase was previously rejected by Senator Susan Collins. Better, they would have us believe, to let the free market and “job creators” be free of such onerous government restrictions and everything will be hunky dory.

Unfortunately, such thinking plays right into the hands of corporations and the very rich who are more concerned about maximizing profits and dividends, with scant regard for the millions of workers who make their swelling bank balances possible. To them, labor is just another commodity to be gotten as cheaply as possible. They do this by sending jobs and factories overseas, by slashing wages, healthcare and traditional benefits of remaining workers, and by guarding against them getting uppity by vigorously opposing labor unions and collective bargaining.

It was the latter that made a living wage and job security possible in the ‘50s and ‘60s when automobile workers made an average, along with the value of their benefits, of about $50 an hour in today’s dollars.

American workers simply cannot depend on the beneficence of private enterprise to secure them a job at a fair wage. One step toward reaching this goal is to legislate a reasonable minimum wage, as already has been done in Denmark, where a Burger King worker, for example, enjoys a minimum wage equivalent to $20 an hour.

Gene Clifford

Mount Desert

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