NEW YORK — Today, we celebrate the introduction of the Raise the Wage Act by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The Raise the Wage Act will increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 and gradually eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped and disabled workers. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement in response:
“The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 since 2009. There are over 4 million Asian women in the labor force, and nearly one third of all Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women earn less than $15 an hour. When that data is further disaggregated by ethnicity, we know that Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander women report some of the lowest wages compared to other racial and ethnic groups. The Raise the Wage Act could provide a relief for millions of AAPI women and their families.
“While we celebrate the Raise the Wage Act, we know that many women and gender non-conforming people in the AAPI community cannot wait until 2024 for living wages — and many will continue to struggle to make ends meet under a $15 minimum wage. In one study by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 15 percent of AAPI transgender and gender non-conforming respondents reported an income of less than $10,000 a year, and 32 percent reported living in poverty. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of AAPI women live at or below the poverty line. Raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction, but we need to continue to push forward state and federal policies that support the overall economic security and well-being of AAPI women, transgender and gender non-conforming people.
“We’d like to remind politicians that economic security will not be achieved in a vacuum — it will be established when social and political systems provide the resources and means necessary for people to care holistically for themselves and each other. That includes fighting for reproductive and health care access, as well as immigration reform and pathway to citizenship. Our vision of reproductive justice is one where AAPI workers have the necessary resources and support to define and make decisions about their bodies, families and communities. The Raise the Wage Act moves AAPI women, transgender and gender non-conforming people closer toward that vision—but we still have a long way to go.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing, and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.