Minimum Wage Increase Vital to Local Workers

PDF Version Available for Download

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
August 1, 2008            

Contact: Kathryn Youker, Attorney
956.447.4802 
kyouker@trla.org
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director
512.374.2764
cmartinez@trla.org

WESLACO, Texas – The minimum wage increased from $5.85 to $6.55 an hour beginning July 24, 2008 as a result of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, an increase that affects workers throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

As part of its Wage Claim Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the largest provider of legal aid in Texas, is reminding all employers and minimum wage workers of the increase to ensure that employees are provided with the wages guaranteed to them by the law.

According to TRLA attorney Kathryn Youker, “It is important that workers know that the minimum wage increased and that their paychecks should reflect that change.”

On July 24, 2007, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increased the minimum wage to $5.85 per hour.  Additional increases scheduled wage changes to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008 and $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009. 

The impact of the minimum wage increase is an important occurrence for the area.  Historically, the Rio Grande Valley has been of the poorest regions in the United States.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median family income in the Valley was only about half of the national average in 2006. 

Yet, even with the increase, the possibility exists that employers will still pay workers according to the older wage rates.  According to a 2005 survey by the Valley Movement for Human Rights, violations of workers’ rights are widespread in the Rio Grande Valley.  Payment of sub-minimum wage, denial of overtime pay, and theft of wages accounted for the largest percentage of violations.  As part of its services, TRLA represents employees with wage and hour claims, including unpaid overtime, failure of an employer to pay minimum wage for all hours worked, and the theft of wages. 

“The law protects workers from being denied their wages,” added Youker.  “If an employee is having these problems, they should know that we can help them.”

Workers in need of legal representation regarding wage and hour claims can contact TRLA at 1-888-988-9996.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.

 
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