On First Day Of Democratic National Convention, CWA, SEIU Presidents, PA Senate Candidate, L.A. Mayor Call On Congress To Raise the Minimum Wage
National and state advocates launch #RaiseItDamnIt campaign to declare $7.25 is not enough on the 7th anniversary of last increase in the federal minimum wage
As Republicans in Congress block minimum wage increase, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have raised the wage since 2014
PHILADELPHIA — Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton, Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Katie McGinty, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor, Bishop Dwayne Royster and airport worker Onetha McKnight today called for policymakers and businesses to ensure all working people earn a living wage.
Coming on the heels of the most divisive and anti-worker Republican National Convention ever, over 100 advocacy groups, including Center for American Progress, Center for Popular Democracy, Economic Policy Institute, the Fairness Project, National Employment Law Project, the Working Families Party, and others are holding a national day of action on the anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, currently at $7.25 an hour. More than 50 canvassers arrived in Philadelphia as the Democratic National Convention began, and actions in states around the country are demonstrating support to #RaiseItDamnIt on social media with a trending hashtag and over 1 million social media impressions so far today. Popular Twitter accounts also tweeted about the day of action, including: @BarackObama, @SenatorReid, @LaborSec, @PattyMurray. and others. The website, RaiseItDamnIt.org, will continue to be the online organizing hub of activity.
“Working families are suffering because, for too long, our elected officials have refused to act. A living wage isn’t a luxury, it’s a right that must be enforced by raising the federal minimum wage,” said CWA President Chris Shelton.
“All workers deserve $15 an hour and the ability to have a voice on the job by joining a union,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “This November, working families face a clear choice between Hillary Clinton, who supports our movement, and Donald Trump, who thinks wages are already too high. This election is the most consequential of their lifetime and the stakes could not be higher.”
The last increase to the minimum wage was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and supported by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Raising the wage is popular with the American public: 63 percent of Americans support a $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020, and a September 2015 poll found that, by a 3-1 margin, voters are more likely to support political candidates who favor raising the minimum wage.
“It is time for us to enable our citizens to be able to make a living wage and have the opportunity to thrive,” said Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty. “Right now, people making the minimum wage are struggling to get by, and we need to do better for Pennsylvania workers and for workers around the country.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who signed a $15 an hour minimum wage bill into law in Los Angeles in 2015 said, “No American who works hard should be forced to live in poverty. For the 600,000 Angelenos this will affect, the bill is a lifesaver. But we can’t stop until all Americans earn a living wage.”
“There are millions of Americans in states red, blue, and purple who struggle to put food on the table everyday. It’s a national disgrace,” said Dan Cantor, National Director of the Working Families Party. “Politicians should shut out the lobbyists for the 1 percent long enough to hear the truth, and those who can’t should pay the price.”
Four states will also bring minimum wage referendums to their voters this fall, as Colorado today submitted 200,000 signatures, more than twice the required amount, to join Arizona, Maine, and Washington. This comes on the heels of two of the most populous states in the country – California and New York – passing a $15 an hour minimum wage increase, earlier this year.
“As a father, husband, minister and social justice advocate in Philadelphia, I see first-hand how the minimum wage marginalizes people of color and contributes to the cycle of poverty we are stuck in,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, Founding Pastor of Living Water UCC. “Economic justice must be sought alongside racial justice.”
“I stood with my brothers and sisters on strike to demand what we deserve: a higher wage and access to a union,” said Onetha McKnight, a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport. McKnight and her co-workers have been organizing for more than three years and just last week were victorious in their demands for a fair process to form their union and negotiate a living wage
“Because of Republican obstruction, the federal minimum wage has been frozen at just $7.25 for seven years – locking more than 35 million American workers in low-paying jobs. Today, families and voters across the country are saying enough is enough – we need national leadership that will #RaiseItDamnIt,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.
“The call for a higher minimum wage is getting louder all around the country – because it’s getting harder and harder to put food on the table, afford rent, or support a family,” said JoEllen Chernow, Director of Economic Justice at Center for Popular Democracy. “We’ve waited nearly a decade for a meaningful raise, and we simply cannot wait one more. It’s time to give Americans a raise and ensure we support all working families in this country.”