Political discourse in corporate controlled Washington DC is silent on the plight of the working poor. Big business, corporate profits and the minimum wage are, after all, very much related. In response to the election year silence on the growing rates of low paying jobs and poverty in the United States, community organizers in 30 cities are launching a coordinated effort to raise the minimum wage, demanding that businesses pay wages that allow people to not only survive but also revitalize their communities. The Nation reports:
Prince Jackson, a security guard at JFK, makes $1,000 per month. “Half of the money goes to rent,” Jackson told a crowd of union members and community activists gathered in New York City’s Union Square on July 24. “After all of my expenses I don’t have anything left. . . .I can’t explain how much I need the minimum wage to increase.”
Because many of the new jobs being created today are low paying, raising the minimum wage is crucial to keep more people from slipping into poverty.
An estimated 4.5 million workers in the United States make at or below the minimum wage, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that seven out of the ten fastest growing occupations, such as in-home healthcare workers and retail workers, are typically low-wage. A coalition of labor unions and community organizations across the United States, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), coalesced around the issue on July 24, with actions in more than 30 cities. Organizers have also protested companies that have historically offered low-wage jobs, such as McDonald’s in Milwaukee and JC Penney in New York City, in addition to members of Congress opposed to or ambivalent about a minimum wage increase.