Raise every state and federal minimum wage: The International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR) has the force of international law since 1976.
IHBR is a composite of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In 1992 the United States ratified the ICCPR and has signed (1977) but not ratified the ICESCR.
UDHR Article 23 in part says: "Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself (and herself) and his (or her) family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection." Article 23 also states, "Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his (or her) interests." The UDHR is explicitly adopted for the purpose of defining the meaning of the words "fundamental freedoms" and "human rights" appearing in the United Nations Charter, that binds all member states. United States was the primary moving force to draft and in 1948 to adopt in United Nations General Assembly this global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.
By the 1992 U.S. ratification of ICCPR (a treaty) the U.S. holds it a "supreme law of the land" under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. ICCPR is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented. ICCPR Article 22 is clear: everyone has the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of one's interests. The only restrictions on the right are those which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Under the ICCPR, any restrictions on trade unions must be necessary to a democratic society. Notice that the review of the United States, which was scheduled to be reviewed during the Human Rights Committee's 109th session of October 2013, was postponed until March 10-to-28, 2014.
On October 10, 2013 the U.S. requested a postponement of the fourth periodic report of the United States which the U.S. is obliged to submit to the Human Rights Committee on how the rights are being implemented, highlighting its regret at having to make such a request which was caused by an ongoing U.S. government shutdown. On that day the request was accommodated by the Human Rights Committee which, along with the Secretariat, regretted the inconvenience this postponement caused, in particular to members of civil society who had made arrangements to attend and participate in the meetings to examine the report of the United States and to address the Committee's concerns and recommendations to the United States in the form of "concluding observations” that were adopted on March 26, 2014. The List of issues in relation to the fourth periodic report of the United States was adopted by the Committee at its 107th session (March 11–28 2013). The Committee raised numerous concerns in the "concluding observations” it adopted on March 26, 2014 including how the U.S. works to further Freedom of assembly and association (arts. 21 and 22). The Committee said, "Please clarify why agricultural and domestic workers and independent contractors are excluded from the right to organize themselves in trade unions by the National Labor Relations Act and provide information on steps taken to ensure that the right to freedom of association is available to these categories of workers." I believe that were these workers allowed to associate in unions, there would be substantially more pressure on us all to raise a minimum wage to much higher and more just amounts.
ICESCR Article 7 states that everyone has a right to "just and favorable" working conditions that are defined as: fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependents; safe working conditions; equal opportunity in the workplace; and sufficient rest and leisure, including limited working hours and regular, paid holidays. Article 8 assures workers can form or join trade unions and protects the right to strike. Like Cuba and South Africa the U.S. has refused to ratify ICESCR. Do we want to oppose raising minimum wages, letting workers organize, and have unions because in our doing so, we are expressing our solidarity with Cuba and South Africa?
Do we oppose raising minimum wages because we do not like ICESCR Article 9 which mandates "the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance," requiring States parties: to provide some form of social insurance scheme to protect people against the risks of sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment or old age; to provide for survivors, orphans, and those who cannot afford health care; and to ensure that families are adequately supported?? Or is our opposition driven by our desire to deprive workers who are U.S. citizens from having what ICESCR Article 11 recognizes as the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living and to a continuous improvement of living condition which is, in Article 12, said to include the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, through a comprehensive system of healthcare, that is available to everyone without discrimination, and economically accessible to all. Do we oppose those standards?
As discussed by the U.S. for the Human Rights Committee in paragraphs 717 – 720 of its Initial Report and paragraphs 373 – 375 of the Second and Third Periodic Report, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes national minimum wage, overtime, record keeping and child labor standards affecting more than 80 million full- and part-time workers in both the public and private sectors, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.
We all should support raising the minimum wage and doing so in a significant amount no matter what negative arguments those who oppose raising it may pronounce.
U.S.Representative Paul Ryan (WI-1st), his constituents and those in Congress who support him should See and Consider the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church about The importance of unions and especially about The right to fair remuneration and income distribution. The Church has said "Employment problems challenge the responsibility of the State, whose duty it is to promote active employment policies..." In paragraph 20 of RERUM NOVARUM encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital And Labor (5-15-1891) is taught "...the employer must never tax his work people beyond their strength, or employ them in work unsuited to their sex and age. His great and principal duty is to give every one what is just. Doubtless, before deciding whether wages are fair, many things have to be considered; but wealthy owners and all masters of labor should be mindful of this - that to exercise pressure upon the indigent and the destitute for the sake of gain, and to gather one's profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. To defraud any one of wages that are his due is a great crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven.
Paul Ryan (WI-1st), his constituents and those in Congress who support him should sign the letter calling on our Dear Members of Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage. Everyone should support this logical legislative work simply to make sure that "a rising tide will lift all boats."