U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been a leader in the Obama administration’s fight to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10.
On Friday, he answered question from the msnbc community about the minimum wage, labor issues, and more on the msnbc Facebook page.
In case you missed it, here’s a recap of his answers:
Cristen Sharié Kimball: My question is how will you keep big corporations from raising their prices after they raise minimum wage because they don’t want to lose any profit?
Secretary Perez: The purchasing power of the current federal minimum wage has decreased 20 percent in the past 30 years. What this means for workers, among other challenges, is that they are increasingly reliant on public benefits such as food stamps to make ends meet. The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the low wage business model of certain employers. Studies have shown that the benefits to workers and taxpayers far outweigh the potential minimal increase in the cost of a product.
Maryanne Mccarthy: Why is all the emphasis on hourly wage? I agree that is important & should be raised but it won’t matter if a person is working only 20 hours a week. Need to discuss, raise awareness about part-time work, & work on making more full time jobs.
Secretary Perez: We need to raise wages AND ensure that everyone who wants to work full time can do so. As the economy continues to recover, the number of people who are working part time but want to work full time has decreased by hundreds of thousands. We still have more work to do in this area, just as there is more to do on the challenge of raising wages and ensuring that prosperity is shared.
Anne Thompson: This week you delayed enforcement of the new minimum wage and overtime rules going into effect in January. The new laws will be implemented without enforcement power for at least 6 months– akin to putting up speed limits without being able to issue speeding tickets. What do you say to the low-income home care workers– more than 90 percent women, a majority people of color– who have been depending on these new pay rules to go into full affect since you announced them one year ago?
Secretary Perez: The new rules will go into effect on January 1st. As a result, for instance, in California and New York, which have the two largest populations of home health workers, these workers will get this raise on January 1st. We continue to work with all states to ensure that they are positioned like California and New York to implement this important regulation on January 1st. There is a chronic shortage of home health workers, and the best way to address this is to ensure that they receive a fair wage.
Greg Burrier: Good Morning Labor Secretary Perez, My question would be “Should large corporations such as Wal-Mart, Kellogg’s, Honeywell International, etc. first financial priority be directed to the elite interest of their Wall Street shareholders in the form of stock dividends, or instead focus on maintaining a living wage with standard benefits for their employees”?
Secretary Perez: In my discussions with responsible employers across the country, I have seen countless examples of leaders who focus on stakeholders, and not simply shareholders. Companies such as Costco recognize that it is a false choice to suggest that you either take care of your shareholder OR your worker. You can do both, AND offer great products at very competitive prices. That is the America of shared prosperity that we must strive for.