Edwards on minumum wage

by Jordan Green

Unconfirmed 2008 presidential candidate and son of Robbins, NC John Edwards has been campaigning around the country to raise the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $5.15 per hour since 1997.

Various media reports place the onetime North Carolina Senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee in Phoenix, Ariz. and Albuquerque, NM on June 28, in Lansing, Mich. on June 29, and in Columbus, Ohio on June 30, campaigning behind state and city minimum wage initiatives.

An initiative to raise the minimum wage above the national baseline in North Carolina proposed by Greensboro state representative Alma Adams, in contrast, seems to have escaped the attention of Edwards, who is the director of the Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC Law School in Chapel Hill. Adams’ bill was defeated by a margin of 14 votes in the House on June 1.

Chris Fitzsimon, an analyst with the left-leaning NC Policy Watch in Raleigh took note in the July 8 edition of his ‘“Friday’s Follies’” e-mail newsletter.

About the former senator’s speaking engagements around the country, Fitzsimon wrote: ‘“Edwards’ critics contend the crusade is as much about a 2008 presidential bid as it is about improving the plight of the poor and low-paid workers. Who knows, but Edwards has been giving the critics more fodder lately by ignoring a battle to raise the minimum wage in another state, one he might have heard of, North Carolina.’”

Fitzsimon noted that the minimum wage legislation failed in the Democratic-dominated House largely because of the nay votes of conservative Democratic legislators.

‘“Wonder how many of those lawmakers heard from Edwards or how many rallies he attended in Raleigh about the minimum wage?’” he added. ‘“Or are the critics right that it is a little harder to find the time to help the poor in a state that is unlikely to be supportive with electoral votes?’”