Business groups and their political allies have consistently attacked the idea of a minimum wage ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed it during the Depression to help stimulate the economy. And yesterday — the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which FDR signed on June 25, 1938 to establish the minimum wage as well as the eight-hour day, paid overtime and child labor protections — their contemporary counterparts are still at it.
A recent report by the National Employment Law Project and the Cry Wolf Project, Consider the Source: 100 years of Broken Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage, chronicles the history of unchanging sky-is-falling rhetoric by business interests opposed to minimum wage laws.
Even today, business groups and their political allies still complain that the minimum wage violates employers’ freedom to set pay levels, forces business firms to cut jobs or even file for bankruptcy,
Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and long-time activist who has lent her strength to countless social and economic justice fights, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama on Tuesday.
“Dolores was very gracious when I told her I had stolen her slogan, ‘Si, se puede.’ Yes, we can,” Obama joked during the ceremony. “Knowing her, I’m pleased she let me off easy, because Dolores does not play.”
He explained that throughout Huerta’s work, “She has fought to give more people a seat at the table. ‘Don’t wait to be invited,’ she says, ‘Step in there.’”
“I was humbled, thrilled, and surprised. I never expected to be nominated,” Huerta, 82, told the Daily Beast about the honor. She said the medal highlights the power of “organizing at the grassroots level,” and “how important that is in keeping our democracy alive.”