10:14 am Feb. 21, 2013
Kirsten Gillibrand, who has carved out a role for herself as a champion of working mothers in the Senate, emailed supporters this morning to make the case for a $9 minimum wage in terms of its potential impact on women.
"We all know this increase is long overdue," Gillibrand wrote. "But here’s something you may not know: an incredibly disproportionate number – 64% of minimum wage earners – are women."
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed a raise in the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour, an increase that's not expected to get very far in the Republican-controlled House. But Democrats see it as a win-win, even if they lose on the policy, since the popular proposal could make for a populist issue in 2014. And if it resonates with women, who helped Obama beat Mitt Romney in November, all the better.
Gillibrand estimated in the email that it would affect 13 million women.
"These hard-working women deserve a living wage today," she wrote. "Too often they are left to choose between feeding their kids, putting gas in the car or paying the bills. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that we have to break immediately."
The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, when the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, was $9.38.
"Women and their families need this," she wrote.
The email comes under the banner of "Off The Sidelines," a group Gillibrand founded to push for more women to get involved in politics.
Yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would continue his push for a state minimum wage increase to $8.75.
Coincidentally, Gillibrand's email comes as Gloria Steinem makes a push for a local "paid sick leave" bill in similar terms.