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The Right to a Living Wage

There is no freedom without economic freedom.

Our right to a living wage — a wage that ensures no American has to work more than one full-time job to live comfortably — must be an essential right of everyone who lives here. No corporation or government should be able to take that right away for the sake of their own interests.

More than 30 percent of all households can’t afford basic necessities: That’s millions of people missing meals, putting off doctor visits, failing to make rent or unable to pay their utility bills.

But a living wage is about much more than affording the basic necessities: It is essential to equality, opportunity, justice, and democracy — every element of the American promise. How can we be free to live up to our potential if our wages restrict the choices we make for our future?

In the last 40 years, the typical American worker has seen zero increase in purchasing power — pay raises have been eaten up by the rapidly rising cost of living. But at the same time, the rich have continued to get richer: CEO pay was 361 times higher than that of the average worker in recent years. The top 1 percent own almost 40 percent of all the country’s wealth — while the bottom 90 percent combined own less than 23 percent. This is wrong — plain and simple. This is why we need a living wage, as one of the 5 Rights to make our country fairer, healthier, stronger, safer, and truly democratic.