WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of a new report detailing the number of Americans working low-wage jobs with little access to important benefits, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined an agenda to help rebuild a strong middle class and give American workers a raise. Brown renewed his call to raise the federal minimum wage, increase access to paid sick leave, protect overtime pay for workers, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“Today’s report reveals the staggering number of workers in Ohio and across the country trying to support their families on low wages. Ohio workers aren’t looking for a handout – they’re just looking to be paid what they’re worth,” Brown said. “A healthy economy invests in its workforce and we need to do more to ensure that hard work is rewarded. We can do that by raising the national minimum wage to $15, requiring paid sick leave and paid family leave, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, and rewarding work through the tax code. When hard work pays off, we get more productive workers, stronger businesses, and stronger families.”

During a news conference call today, Brown joined Gary Johnson, a northwest Ohio business owner who discussed how providing fair wages and benefits to employees has helped his business thrive. Johnson is president and CEO American Floors and Interiors, located in Toledo.

“In 2014, Fortune named us the fastest growing inner city construction company in America, and paying fair wages helps us attract and retain good employees, increase sales, expand and hire more employees. By contrast, the high turnover, low-pay model is bad for business, our economy and our communities,” Johnson said. “Raising the federal minimum wage will have the same positive affect on the nation's economy that paying good wages has had on my business.”

Earlier today, Brown joined Oxfam America and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) to release a new report, entitled “Few Rewards,” which details the millions of low-wage workers struggling to make ends meet across the U.S. A snapshot of the Ohio employment picture is available here.

Brown outlined a number of legislative priorities to help workers, including:

  • Raising the Minimum Wage: Brown is a cosponsor of the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, which would phase in a $15 minimum wage by 2020 over five gradual raises. After 2020, the minimum wage would be indexed to the median hourly wage and the tipped minimum wage would be gradually eliminated.
  • Paid Sick Leave: Brown is a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act (HFA), which would: allow workers to earn paid sick time to address medical needs and care for family members; provide important worker protections while addressing business concerns; and decrease employee turnover and improve productivity to benefit workers, business, and our economy by reducing the spread of disease.
  • Overtime Protections: Last month, Brown joined Vice President Biden and U.S. Department of Labor Sec. Thomas Perez to unveil a new overtime policy to help middle-class families by ensuring Americans are paid fairly for their work. The new rule extends overtime pay to 4.2 million Americans, including 134,000 Ohioans, who are working long hours without fair pay. Brown led the effort to ensure that workers are paid what they deserve and has called on the Administration to finalize a rule that would expand overtime protections for more workers.

Earlier this month, Brown outlined steps to restore the value of work in a speech at the Cleveland City Club. In a speech entitled, “Restacking the Deck: Why Restoring the Value of Work is Essential to Growing Our Economy,” Brown proposed solutions to bring more Americans into the middle class. Audio of the speech is available here.