Minimum-wage wars: The fight for better pay is spreading across the U.S.

Around the country there are battles being waged over the minimum wage. Workers, community and labor activists are fighting to have companies pay people enough money to live a decent life.

The movement is paying off in some places. The Seattle city council recently voted to raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, reports The Washington Post’s Reid Temple.

But depending on the size of the company, the higher wages will kick in over a three- to seven-year period. Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $9.32 an hour.

“The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 cents an hour, about $15,080 for a full-time, year-round worker. At that level, it means poverty wages for a family of three, and weakened demand for the economy,” wrote Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of the Nation magazine, who also writes a weekly column for The Post.

The Washington Post politics blog The Fix has a chart you need to see. It’s about the decreasing value of minimum wage. “Every so often, the minimum wage goes up — but it hasn’t kept up with the value of the dollar,” The Post’s Philip Bump wrote. Using metrics created by Oregon State University paired with minimum wage data, you get to see “how the federal minimum wage has evolved over time, in nominal dollars (what the wage was set to that year) and in 2014 dollars,” Bump writes.

“Poverty wages offend both justice and common sense,” wrote vanden Heuvel. “It is time to raise the floor.”

Color of Money question of the week

Do you think it’s time to raise the roof on the federal minimum wage? Send your comments along with your name and city to colorofmoney@washpost.com.

Live chat today

Join me at noon ET for a discussion with Zac Bissonnette about his new book, “Good Advice From Bad People: Selected Wisdom From Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong.”

Millions of consumers have been duped by people — many once touted as icons — who turn out to be charlatans or who gave advice that they themselves didn’t follow, says Bissonnette, a personal finance writer.

Read my review of the book, which was my May pick for the Color of Money Book Club.

What do you think? Have you taken advice from so-called experts and now regret it? We will also be taking questions about your own personal finances.

If you can’t join me live, come back later and read the transcript. Or send in your comment or question early.

Readers respond to extra airline fees

In my last electronic newsletter, I asked what you thought of how extra fees are disclosed by the airlines and Internet sites that help you find fares. The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a new set of rules that would, among other things, require airlines and ticket agents to disclose upfront fees for checked bags, carry-on items and advance seat assignments.

Recently, Southwest Airlines was hit with a $200,000 fine for advertising that customers in Atlanta could fly to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles for just $59. “But the bargain fare turned out to be too good to be true,” reported Marilyn Geewax for NPR.

Here’s what two readers had to say in response to the Color of Money question of the week:

“Fees (other than checked bags) are absolutely NOT adequately disclosed at the time of purchase, and if you don’t know the right questions to ask, it’s very hard to find out prior to purchase which ones will affect you,” Kimberly Rotter of San Diego wrote in an e-mail. “Fee horror stories have alarmed me to the extent that I am willing to carefully research the issue prior to buying every ticket. That means I don’t always opt for the lowest fare, but it also means I know what to expect. I have a couple of preferred airlines, and I am willing and able to work within their fee structures. Also, having frequent-flyer accounts and their co-branded credit cards are two ways that I stay up to date on any policy changes, including fees. I read the e-mails they send.”

Lynn Saxton of Warsaw, N.Y., wrote: “I remember when choosing a credit card meant struggling through pages of fine print. I would love to see a clear, concise formula for disclosing airline fees, etc., formulated along the lines of the Schumer box for credit cards. However, the problem with airline fares is that the rules governing prices depend on so many factors — when you buy, how you buy, where you choose to sit, whether it’s a roundtrip or one-way ticket, etc. — that presenting it in a simple format seems impossible. And perhaps that is the point.”

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com. Follow her on twitter @SingletaryM.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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