fresh voices from the front lines of change







This summer, in major cities like New York, Seattle, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis, thousands of workers have taken to the streets protest workplace abuse, poor working conditions, and wage theft. But most of all workers across the country raised their voices to demand livable wages. If you haven’t had the chance to join in standing with workers in your city, you soon will. Thousands of workers, in over U.S. 30 cities will stand up for livable wages in a day of action to raise the minimum wage, on Wednesday July 24th.

On Tuesday, July 24, thousands of low-wage workers and their supporters will go before large U.S. corporations, members of Congress, and Chambers of Commerce to call for fair wages on the three-year anniversary of the last increase to the federal minimum wage. The Day of Action in over 30 U.S. cities listed below, including New York, where more than 2,000 are expected to rally, will support legislation in Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014.

The events follow new data from the National Employment Law Project showing that large corporations with more than 100 employees hire the majority of the country’s low-wage workers (66%) – and that their strong recovery after the recession signals it is time to improve wages for the lowest- paid workers. New data from the Economic Policy Institute also shows the wide-ranging impact a minimum wage raise would have on America’s workers and the economy. A national poll of 2012 voters earlier this year found that nearly three in four likely voters (73%) support increasing the minimum wage to $10 and indexing it to inflation.

The coalition supporting the July 24 Day of Action ranges from researchers and policy experts to labor, faith, civil rights and community organizations representing millions of Americans, and includes NELP Action Fund, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Jobs with Justice, EPI Policy Center, YWCA, USAction, Interfaith Worker Justice, Credo, Campaign for America’s Future, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Demos, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Leadership Center for the Common Good, Wider Opportunities for Women, the National Women’s Law Center and other labor, faith and community organizations.

Recently, McDonald’s unintentionally underscored the fact that minimum wage is not a livable wage, when it released a sample budget for its employees that proved it’s impossible to survive on a McJob paycheck. Right there in black and white, McDonald’s spelled out the expectation that workers will need a second job just to have a shot at getting by.


If you don’t care about what minimum wage workers earn you should. If the minimum wage had risen in sync with the productivity since 1968, it would be $16.50 an hour today. That’s higher than the wages earned by 40 percent of American workers today. That means 40% of Americans effectively make less than the 1960 minimum wage.

It’s no wonder 7.2 million American workers earn so little that they are living in poverty. They’re not just living in poverty. They’re working in poverty. And their working for wages that place the basics out of reach, and leave no room for getting ahead.

It’s only going to get worse. Low-wage jobs are proliferating in this recession/recovery. Jobs in the middle of the skill and income curves are disappearing, and they’re not coming back. Instead, we’re creating more jobs with lower pay. McJobs are the wave of the future, and the next one could be yours.

That’s bad news for workers, and for the economy, because the economy can’t recover if workers don’t. That’s why over 100 economists have signed a petition in support of raising the minimum wage, and in support of Rep. Alan Grayson’s "Catching up to 1968 Act of 2013," which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.

The movement to increase the minimum wage is growing, and coming to your city or a city near you on July 14th. Be a part of it!

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