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Video: Raise the Wage Virginia Launches Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour 

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See below for a press release and video, from Progress VA, on the “Raise the Wage Virginia” campaign launch this morning…

Raise the Wage Virginia Launches Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour 
Video footage of this event can be found here

Richmond, Virginia—Raise the Wage Virginia launched its campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour today. At a press conference attended by about two dozen supporters, Lenace Edwards, low wage workers Lisa Harris, Sandra Villanueva, and Thomasine Wilson, and Dr. Rev. Corey Walker discussed the need to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour so that everyone in our community has the opportunity to feel financially secure and live with dignity.

“I rely on my mom to help me pay my bills. Without her help, I don’t know what I would do. It makes me feel like a failure that at 30-something years old, I have to ask my mom for help,” Lisa Harris, who works at Kroger, said. “Because I make so little, I’ve put off getting married and having kids. I’d love to do those things, but they seem like a pipe dream when I can’t even take care of myself. I’m here today to say that it is past time to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and I hope that legislators will do the right thing and vote for HB395 so that everyone in our community has the opportunity to work hard and thrive.”

“I’ve been a home health care worker for 20 years. I spend 10-12 hours a day making sure that people can stay independent in their homes,” Thomasine Wilson, Chapter Chair of SEIU 512 said. “I shouldn’t make the decisions between paying rent and eating this week. People can’t afford to live on $7.25. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you can’t afford bootstraps. I’ve been coming since 2012 asking for $15 an hour and now is the time.”

“I have major knee problems from working on my feet for eight hours a day. My doctor tells me I need to quit one of my jobs but I can’t afford to get by on one job. But $15 would be a big help,” Sandra Villanueva said.  “It would mean I wouldn’t need to work two jobs, and I would be able to feel better by not spending so much time on my knees at the second job. With $15 I could help with my grandkids education because my daughter can’t afford it.”

“The cause of a living wage is not just one about economics, it is the cause of justice itself. This is why faith leaders from across our nation – Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and others – support every effort to raise the minimum wage and establish living wages,” Rev. Dr. Corey Walker said. “Raising the minimum wage is about creating the conditions of possibility for all people to live and labor with dignity. It goes to the very heart of what it means to be a human and to authentically live in a democratic society.”

“Everyone who works hard and plays by the rules should be able to live with dignity and thrive in our communities. But conservatives and corporate special interest groups have been working together for years to keep the minimum wage low so that no matter how hard we work, we can’t get ahead. We are here today to say enough is enough! It is time to come together to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for everyone in our community can raise their families without having to worry about how they are going to put food on the table for their children to eat.”

Background:

Low wage workers are supporting families.

  • 6 in 10 low wage workers are women.
  • One-quarter of workers who would benefit from raising the minimum wage are supporting children.
  • 300,000 Virginia children live in a household that would see increased income from increasing the wage.

Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy.

  • Raising the wage to $15/hour over five years would generate a total wage increase in Virginia of $5,534,108,000.

Small Business owners support increasing the minimum wage.

  • 67% of small business owners support increasing the federal minimum wage and adjusting it yearly to keep up with the cost of living
  • 65% of small business owners agree that “increasing the minimum wage will help the economy because the people with the lowest incomes are the most likely to spend any pay increases buying necessities they could not afford before, which will boost sales at businesses
  • 46% of small business owners surveyed identified themselves as Republican, 35% identified as Democrat and 11% identified as independent.

Raise the Wage Virginia includes 32BJ SEIU, SEIU 512, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, New Virginia Majority, For Our Future Virginia, Progress Virginia, CASA, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, UFCW 400, and UNITE Local 25

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Progress Virginia is a multi-issue advocacy organization dedicated to communicating progressive values across the Commonwealth. We engage citizens around issues of immediate state and local concern. www.ProgressVA.org