Resolution on Increasing Minimum Wage and Other Supports for Low-Income Families

Posted on: Thursday April 24, 2014

Whereas the Torah commands us to be concerned for fair treatment of low-wage earners: “You shall not oppress a needy and destitute laborer…you must pay him his wages on the same day…for he is needy and urgently depends on it” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15; cf. Leviticus 19:13) and

Whereas Jewish law relating to poverty from the Talmud on balances curative measures to sustain the poor with preventative measures through loans and, optimally, a job, based on the understanding that a poor person would work diligently to escape poverty (Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, “You Shall Strengthen Them:” A Rabbinic Letter on the Poor) and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has reaffirmed its support for raising the minimum wage, maintaining the safety net for the poor through the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps (now SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), adequate health care and other means, in a comprehensive 2012 “Resolution Affirming the Need for Socio-Economic Justice in Federal Budget Prioritization in the United States” and

Whereas studies have shown that better nutrition for children through SNAP has led to fewer health problems, a greater likelihood of their graduating high school and therefore of obtaining a two- or four-year degree that will enhance their entry into the workforce and

Whereas even with existing elements of the safety net in place there were still 16 million people, including nearly 3.5 million children, living below half of the poverty line in 2012 and

Whereas the current minimum wage of $7.25 when adjusted for inflation is 22% below the peak level of the 1960s and

Whereas the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (FMWA) would partially offset the rising inequality in America due to the decline of the minimum wage compared to the wages of blue-collar production and non-managerial workers and

Whereas studies show that raising the minimum wage, especially in the small increments of $.95 a year for each of three years as called for in the FMWA, would have little to no effect on overall  employment statistics and

Whereas there has been considerable bipartisan support for the successful Earned Income Tax Credit; for subsidized employment to help workers and the economy; for improving housing options for low-income families.

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support and advocate for the passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly advocate for the strengthening of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income childless workers to encourage the value of work, subsidized employment from private, non-profit as well as government sources.