AFL-CIO President George Many yesterday urged President Carter to reconsider his minimum wage position on behalf of a broad-based coalitions that is campaigning for a higher wage floor than the administrations wants.
Meany's appeal comes as the House Labor Standards Subcommittee marks time on proposed minimum wage legislation in hopes that the White House will signal a willingness to compromise. Thus far, sources said, there have been no signals.
The newly formed Coalition for a Fair Minimum Wage, ranging from civil rights groups and the National Organization for Women to the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and other union groups, reflects a change in the go-it-alone strategy that contributed to the AFL-CIO's defeat on the construction site picketing bill in Congress earlier this year.
The AFL-CIO regrouped for the minimum wage fight after defeat of the picketing bill and Carter's decision to support raising the minimum wage from $2.30 to $2.50 an hour, with future increases pegged to 50 per cent of average manufacturing wages.
The AFL-CIO has been pushing for a $3 minimum with future minimum at 60 per cent of manufacturing wages. Pending legislation calls for $2.85 and 60 per cent.
Noting that administration officials have said a hgiher wage floor would damage business confidence, Meany told about 100 coalition supporters of a rally that it was "indecent" to say that business will feel better if workers are impoverished.
He said there are 10 million workers earning less than $2.92 an hour, which is what a worker would have to earn to rise above the government-established poverty level of $6,082 annually.
They work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at lousy, dismal jobs," said Meany, "and still they can't earn enough money to get out of poverty."