“When he felt the time was ripe, President Roosevelt asked Secretary of Labor Perkins, ‘What happened to that nice unconstitutional bill you had tucked away?” dol.gov And so, continued a battle for the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
During a fireside chat the night before signing President Roosevelt warned; “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day …tell you…that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” (Supra)
I will not here review the entire history of the law regarding a minimum wage but would like to point to a few probative issues as discussed from the Bench. http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1936/1936_293.
1: An objection to a minimum wage as in conflict with the liberty to contract was addressed. “Deprivation of liberty to contract is forbidden by the Constitution if without due process of law, but restraint or regulation of this liberty, if reasonable in relation to its subject and if adopted for the protection of the community against evils menacing the health, safety, morals and welfare of the people, is due process. P. 300 U. S. 391.(emphasis added)
2: Although some remarks are directed to the case itself which involved a minimum wage for women they are probative in our discussion; “This exploitation and denial of a living wage is not only detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the women affected, but casts a direct burden for their support upon the community. Pp. 300 U. S. 394, 300 U. S. 398, et seq.”
It is important to note that the above case reviewed a challenge to a Washington state law that required in part, “If after investigation the commission found that in any occupation, trade, or industry the wages paid to women were ‘inadequate to supply them necessary cost of living and to maintain the workers in health,…” (http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/76255/17-01j-spring-006/contents/readings/westcoast.pdf (emphasis added))
This review is important because although the laws challenged and reviewed by the Supreme Court had to do with a minimum wage and whether or not it was permitted under the Constitution, the emphasis was not on the amount of the wage itself but rather if it were reasonable for the State to require a minimum wage to, as determined, avert the “exploitation and denial of the living wage”. As the Court explained: “This exploitation and denial of a living wage is not only detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the … affected, but casts a direct burden for their support upon the community.” The court seem to be echoing the Washington state law itself, ‘inadequate to supply them necessary cost of living and to maintain the workers in health…” All of which undeniably is viewing a minimum wage as a living wage necessary for the cost of living and to maintain a worker in health.
Here’s the Federal minimum wage number:
|Jul 24, 2009||$7.25 for all covered, nonexempt workers|
A question: Where is it in the United States of America that a worker, being paid a federal minimum wage, earns enough for the necessary cost of living and the maintenance of their health? If the answer to this question is not, everywhere in the United States then the question arises as to whether the Federal minimum wage statute is constitutional.
It is a rather simplistic notion to suggest that all workers in the United States should be paid a minimum of $15, $10 or $7 an hour. The only minimum to consider is a wage that would supply the necessary cost of living, health and well-being of the worker, a living wage. In addition, a major consideration when arriving at a minimum wage should also include whether that wage would alleviate any unnecessary support burden to the community.
Finally, the Constitution pens truths that are self-evident including the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, additionally, formed a union to promote the general welfare. This begs the question: Are these Constitutional clauses satisfied if it is permitted under law that a worker be paid less than a living wage?
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933