Otis Sanford: Unless lawmakers change tune, $15 minimum wage unlikely

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As a national movement, the Fight for $15 has been around for about three years.

Monday`s Labor Day holiday offered the ideal time for supporters of a $15 federal minimum wage to once again draw attention to the call.

Across the country and here in Memphis, workers primarily at fast food restaurants rallied not just for an increase in hourly pay, but also for union representation and more favorable working conditions.  But the reality is that a national minimum wage hike is hard to fathom in the current political climate in which conservative Republicans control Congress and the White House.

Plus, there are valid claims on both sides. Supporters say an increase will improve the standard of living for millions of low wage Americans, improve worker morale and raise consumer spending. Opponents point to the strong likelihood that consumer prices will go up and that jobs and benefits will be cut.

The movement started to gain steam nationally after officials in Seattle decided in 2014 to increase that city`s minimum wage to $15, which was phased in over several years. Other cities and states have followed suit, but the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 and has been at that amount since 2009.

So unless national politicians and policy makers change their tune, the legitimate push for an increase will continue until next Labor Day.