Written by William C. Winslow
With help from his religious friends, President Clinton has persuaded Congress to increase the minimum wage $1 to $6.15. Standing next to Clinton at the White House the day before Congress voted was the Rev. Paul H. Sherry, retired UCC president, who said raising the wage was a "justice" and "moral" issue. Sherry has been working with the UCC Office for Church in Society's Washington office on minimum wage issues.
Clinton publicly thanked Sherry for bringing together a coalition of 18 Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish leaders who sent a letter to Congress urging the increase.
Additional statements of support came from the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC president, and the Rev. Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. Thomas said that increasing the minimum wage is about overcoming poverty and "respect for the important work done for our society by those who are paid least."
The church leaders may have to wait a while for the legislation to become law. The House voted to raise wages over two years rather than the three originally proposed. But the bill is attached to a tax cut proposal larger than the president wants. In the Senate, the bill is tied to bankruptcy legislation. The two versions must be reconciled before the bill goes to the president.