Minimum Wage Gains Shows the Power of Workers


The new year is bringing a pay raise to millions of people a record 56 states and localities thanks to minimum wage increases instituted through legislation and ballot measures that will ensure more low-income have more money in their pocket in 2022.

According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 21 states and 35 cities and counties have seen wages rise thus far in 2022, and in 33 of those jurisdictions, the wage floor will reach or exceed $15 per hour for some or all employers. Additionally, four more states and 22 local jurisdictions will also lift their wage floors—17 of them to $15 or more, in the next 12 months. By the end of 2022, 49 jurisdictions (two states and 47 cities and counties) will meet or exceed a $15 minimum wage for some or all employers.

The seeds of that increase were planted a decade ago when workers and allies took to the streets to demand a hike in the wage floor. And while states like Washington, California and New York were among the first to respond to the call for a $15 minimum wage, many others have responded as well, even in places that might not seem friendly to such increases.

NELP notes that in the first nine years since its founding, the Fight for $15 has resulted in $150 billion in higher pay for 26 million workers. That’s real progress that shows the power of social movements. But it can’t end there.

That’s where unions come in. While most have been supportive of efforts to raise the minimum wage, they understand that a higher wage floor alone doesn’t spell relief to enough hardworking Americans. Workers need a union so they can collectively bargain not just for better pay, but for better benefits and working conditions as well.

Bills like the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would go a long way towards allowing workers to join together and bargain for better compensation. The Teamsters are a leading advocate for turning the priorities included in the PRO Act into law. Across the country, Teamster members have taken to the streets calling on lawmakers to act now to protect their constituents on the job and ensure they can support their families in return for the essential work they do each day.

Building union power is how America can build worker power. It’s time to move beyond these minimum wage gains to create a country that supports working families.