Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement in recognition of Labor Day, which is this Monday, September 4.

“Labor Day is a time to remember the long, hard-fought struggle for workers' rights to organize, get fair wages and receive training to compete in the global economy.

“That fight continues today.

“The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour since 1997.  We in Washington State set a higher minimum wage: $7.63 per hour.  Democrats want to increase the federal minimum wage to help bring the rest of the nation up to Washington State's level.  This important step will help address the growing gap between rich and poor in our nation.

“Unfortunately, when the House of Representatives last considered a minimum wage increase, the Majority would only consider a bill for wage-earners after attaching a massive tax cut package for the heirs of the wealthiest fraction of one percent of Americans, a move that would deepen our already massive national debt.  In addition, the bill would have forced Washington State tip-earners to take a pay cut.  Americans are not fools; we know an exercise in political cynicism when we see it.

“But raising the minimum wage alone is not enough.  Workers also need continuing education and training to compete in the global economy.  Congress should provide adequate funds for trade adjustment assistance (TAA), and we should expand TAA to service-sector workers.  These much-needed funds for continued job-related education will help our workers meet the changing demands of global trade.

“We have made some progress to improve the TAA program.  Regrettably, Administration policies leave behind many workers who qualify for TAA benefits.  This failure to support TAA will only get worse as the Majority continues to push fiscally irresponsible spending and tax cuts that severely hamper our ability to invest in our workers.

“It is time for a new direction.  While House Leadership and the President fail to stand behind our working families, we must come together to ensure that all Americans can share the American Dream.  Labor Day reminds us we must keep fighting to expand opportunity and work to restore hope and broad-based prosperity for our nation.”