As we wind down another year advocating for consumers and workers, it is inspiring to reflect on the two major victories we saw in 2014 for consumers and workers. NCL is America’s only advocacy group with a dual mission to protect both consumers and workers, and we are proud of our work advocating for these changes.
Increased minimum wages
Minimum wage increases are essential for helping get America’s low-income workers—and our economy—back on track.
As of Jan. 1, 2015, 29 states and Washington, DC will have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage. America’s lowest paid workers will see their meager hourly wages increase, and it’s not just happening in the states with the most liberal voters! Four states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota) approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general election. In Illinois, voters approved an advisory measure.
NCL and our allies have been beating the drum for increased minimum wages, helping to build momentum in recent years that resulted in these real victories. We are hopeful that this trend will continue across the country to help improve the quality of life for millions of working families.
Health care accessibility advances
For consumers, access to health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will improve the nation’s quality of life. Despite conservatives’ pledge to unwind and repeal the ACA, sign-ups have surged, representing a huge amount of pent-up demand for health care across America.
As of mid-December, total enrollment for 2015 plans in this year’s open-enrollment season is about 7.44 million. Experts are saying the surge was bigger than expected and that the Obama administration will exceed its target of having 9.1 million people enrolled in the ACA by the end of 2015.
NCL was a part of this movement—last year, we hosted events across the country to educate consumers about their options and helped them sign up for the exchanges.
All told, the National Center for Health Statistics says that 11.3 percent of Americans lack health insurance, compared with 14.4 percent in 2013. That is progress! More and more Americans, especially children, are insured today than ever before—a huge victory for consumers and for our nation’s health.
There are still many obstacles to overcome for our country’s working families. With your support, we will continue to fight for livable wages, access to healthcare, and so much more in 2015.