Fight For $15 Update: When Truman Doubled Minimum Wage

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Above: About 50 supporters of unionized Twin Cities janitors picket outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s Terminal 1 on Wednesday afternoon. Thousands of union members are expected to participate in the 24-hour strike. Riham Feshir | MPR News

What Happened When Truman Doubled the Minimum Wage

In a  New York Times editorial, Teresa Tritch details what happened with Harry Truman doubled the minimum wage in 1950 from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour: “By December 1950, when the 75-cent minimum had been in place for nearly a year, [the unemployment rate] had fallen to 4.3 percent. By December 1951, it was 3.1 percent and by December 1952, it was 2.7 percent.”

In an editorial Friday,  the Times criticizes laws that industry-backed legislators are trying to quietly pass through state houses nationwide to nullify local efforts to raise the minimum wage.

The editorial board writes on a situation unfolding now: “In Alabama, a pre-emption effort introduced this month seeks to nullify a law passed last year by the Birmingham City Council for a citywide minimum wage of $10.10 an hour by mid-2017. If enacted, the state bill would also torpedo efforts to adopt local minimum wages in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. Like other pre-emption attempts, the Alabama effort is championed almost entirely by Republicans, and the hypocrisy is obvious. Small government is a supreme Republican virtue only until localities pass pro-labor legislation. Then the party’s anti-worker, pro-corporate bias takes over.”

AL.com writes that the Alabama Fight for $15 is part of a coalition seeking to stop the bill. And Birmingham-area fast-food worker and Fight for $15 member Veronica Roscoe  writes in an AL.com op-ed why the wage increase is important to her: “If the Republicans in the statehouse go through with passing this legislation, they’ll be taking money out of our pockets. It’s money many of us need to feed our families and pay our bills. We may not be able to afford to keep our homes warm, but rest assured, if state legislators persist in trying to take this raise from us, we will keep the heat on them.”

SC workers flood Greenville streets before GOP debate More than 1,000 fast-food, home care and child care workers filled the streets of downtown Greenville, SC hours before the GOP debate Saturday. Subway worker Richard Baxter, who went on strike Saturday and will be voting for the first time this year, tells CNN: “Every election I’ve walked right past the ballot box — not into it — because I believed my vote wasn’t worth anything. But the Fight for $15 has changed that.” Check out these must-see videos from the protests:

RT: Hundreds of ‘Fight for $15′ activists march on GOP debate

Meanwhile, the Fight for $15 continues to spread across the country:

In Pennsylvania – Approximately 400 service and maintenance workers at Washington Hospital just outside Pittsburgh won the state’s first $15 victory of the year. Last week workers ratified a new 3-year contract that will bring all current employees and new hires to at least $15.22 per hour.  Read more in the  Observer-Reporter.

And in Philadelphia, Popeyes workers Shymara Jones and Action United Board Chair Kia Hinton call on the mayor to raise pay for city and government employees to $15. They write in the  Philadelphia Inquirer: “…the mayor can make the next 50 days even better by adopting a $15 minimum wage for all city government employees, a bold move that would follow in the footsteps of big-city mayors like Bill de Blasio in New York and set the bar higher for other elected officials still on the fence.”

In New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo took his push for a $15 minimum wage directly to voters  via a telephone town hall,  Politico reports. The push comes as several polls show overwhelming support for a $15 minimum wage among New Yorkers. “The economic anxiety that’s out there is real and palpable and it’s not a feeling, it’s a fact,” Cuomo said. “It is a fact that working families in this state and in this country have been going backwards. It’s a fact that the middle class is under stress and has been going backwards and it’s a fact that we have the worst income inequality and polarization of wealth than we’ve had.”

In California – McDonald’s worker Rosangela Bañuelos was able to use her paid sick days after over 2000 community members and workers called on McDonald’s to follow the law and pay her for the days she took off to care for a sick child.

In Missouri – KCUR in Kansas City takes an in-depth look at the city’s child care workforce and how many of the providers can’t provide for their own kids. Local Head Start worker Kimmy DeVries explains: “You know on an airplane they tell you, you have to put on your own mask first before you help the person next to you. Well, I don’t have my own air mask on, so how am I supposed to help teach the kids at the most effective level if I don’t have all the tools to be successful that I need?”  

In Minnesota – Thousands of janitors who clean over 200 buildings in the Twin Cities went on strike Wednesday for $15 an hour, better working conditions and paid sick days. Janitor Brahim Kone tells  Minnesota Public Radio: “We’re trying to show the companies how important we are. We’re right now trying to get them to look at the proposals we have on the table and to do the right thing.”

In Oregon—The Oregon House passed a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $14.75 in Portland and to slightly lower levels in the rest of the state.  The Oregonian reports that, “demonstrators, unhappy lawmakers didn’t vote for $15, “pounded on the outer walls of the House chamber with fists and shoes, forcing Democratic leaders to halt deliberations.”

Raising pay puts more money in pockets of key customers Economists and analysts tell  Bloomberg News that wage increases in service and retail sectors are helping retailers by putting “more money in the pockets of some of their biggest customers: their own employees.”   Los Angeles McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 National Organizing Committee member Anggie Godoy explains why she’s fighting for $15 and union rights: “I’m trying to save for a car, but it is hard. A car would help me help my mom more. It is very hard because I have to get home and cook for my brother or sister or go to the market. If there was an emergency or something, I don’t know how I’d even get to the hospital.”

Auto Workers for $15 Auto workers in Lorain, OH who make seat frames for GM and Ford and are struggling to get by are organizing for higher pay and a union. Worker John Terry tells the  Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I think $15 is a good starting point. We do make parts that go into cars and trucks; and right now, most of us can’t afford to buy the vehicles we supply parts for.”

This article was originally published on Popular Resistance.


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