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The 20-State "Give America a Raise" Bus Tour Returns to the Buckeye State (2788 hits)

The “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour Returns to the Buckeye State

With Too Many Ohio Workers Struggling to Survive on $16,536 a Year,
Lt. Gov. Candidate Sharen Neuhardt, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, State Rep. Teresa Fedor, Small Business Owners, Labor Leaders, Faith Leaders & Low-Wage Workers Join Stops Along the 20-State Tour and Call on Senator Portman, Speaker Boehner to Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.10

Americans agree: No one who works full-time should live in poverty. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to workers around the country earning minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, but what hasn’t is the price of food, gas, utilities, and basic necessities under inflation, making it nearly impossible to get by anywhere in America on $7.25 an hour or $15,000 a year. Ohio has led by example, raising its minimum wage to $7.95/hr, but that only amounts to $16,536 a year. It’s long past time for Congress to give America and Ohio a raise. And to help drive the point home, Americans United for Change has hit the road with the 20-State “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour supporting President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, and made a return visit to the Buckeye State today.

The Latest Stops: Toledo and Dayton. With the backdrop of a 45’ long, 16-ton anti-poverty billboard on wheels and with invaluable support from SEIU District 1199, Ohio AFL-CIO, and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Americans United was joined by local elected officials including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and State Representative Teresa Fedor, as well as Lt. Gov candidate Sharen Neuhardt, small business owners, labor leaders, faith leaders, and low-wage workers to call on Senator Rob Portman and House Speaker John Boehner to support the Harkin-Miller bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10.

OHIO BY-THE-NUMBERS: A recent report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that raising the minimum wage would increase wages for 1,147,000 workers in Ohio by more than $1.5 billion if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10, and it would generate more than $977 million of economic activity in the Buckeye State. According to MIT, the living wage in Toledo is $16,538 a year and $16,732 a year in Dayton to be able to afford housing, medical care, transportation and food. If full-time Ohio workers made $10.10 an hour, they’d earn $21,008 a year. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found that 64% of Ohioans support raising the minimum wage to $10, while only 36% are opposed.

Highlights from Remarks Made at Dayton Tour Stop at Dayton Cultural and RTA Transit Center:

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley: “We’re here today to tell our friends in Congress to raise the minimum wage. Last Wednesday the Dayton city commission approved a resolution that we sent to Congressman Mike Turner and Senator Portman telling them to do what makes the most sense for our economy and that is to raise the wage to $10.10. We know that 80% of economist say that this will create jobs. And we’re tired of footing the bill for those employers are who paying their workers so little that they need government assistance just to get by.“

Lieutenant Governor Candidate Candidate Sharen Neuhardt: “As a business lawyer by background, I can tell you that a minimum wage increase will increase the number of jobs. A lot of people think minimum wage earners are just high school or college kids. That’s not the case, the average age of a minimum wage worker is 35 and a lot of them are working two jobs. As well, of the over 1.1 million workers in Ohio making minimum wage, nearly two-thirds of them are women. The other important thing to remember is that more money in the pockets of these workers means more money gets spent here in our local economy.”

Crystal Whetstone, low-wage worker in Dayton: “Ohio cannot afford another year of low wages and neither can I. For many families in our community, a trip to the grocery store means hours of work. Folks like me have to work a half-hour to pay for a gallon of milk. Filling up the gas tank takes six hours of work. And I’m not alone. Service jobs that pay low-wages are at the center of America’s economy today. I’ve worked at the same discount retailer for more than a six years. The highest raise I ever received was 25cents. Raising the minimum wage would give my household a needed boost. I could put money toward paying off my student loan debt, and maybe even afford to start saving money for the future. I don’t know how others in my position survive with kids. You can’t make ends meet. Those of us earning minimum wage are trapped in a cycle of poverty because we’ll never be able to save enough money to get ahead. Raise the minimum wage. We are worth the investment. I work hard. My co-workers work hard. We deserve to be able to live a decent life.”

Highlights from Remarks Made at Toledo Tour Stop at Teamsters Local 20:

Rev. Cedric Brock, pastor at Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church: “We are a society that values work and values mobility. We are a country that takes pride in the fact that if you work hard in America you will get ahead. That’s a question mark right now. For far too many families working day in and day out, we are treading water and sinking slowly. We’ve got a message to Senator Portman, that we represent the people and we need you to do the right thing.”

State Representative Teresa Fedor (District 45): “For Ohio, the fair minimum wage act would raise annual income for a full-time employee to, still a modest, $21k a year which is just up from $16k a year. That’s just over $300 a week. I challenge Senator Portman to live a year on $300 a week. A raise in the minimum wage would mean 20% of Ohio’s work force, 947,000 people, would see more money and more opportunity. Workers’ wages in Ohio would increase by $2.1billion dollars. Raising the minimum wage is the least the U.S. Congress can do for the most Americans.”

Dave Schultz, President, Keystone Press, one of the oldest commercial printers in Toledo: “I’ve worked for my company my entire life. My family bought into this company in 1945. And here’s what I can tell you: If your employees are worried about how they’re going to pay for groceries or what they’re going to do for healthcare, you are not going to get a great days work from them. Your employees shouldn’t be worried about what they’re going to do when they get home. That’s why I pay over the minimum wage. I have people who’ve worked at my company for over 40 years. They want to be a part of the family because we give them a fair wage.”

Maureen Wilcheck, Coach Operator for Toledo Area Regional Para Transit Service: “I just recently received my first raise to $10.10 an hour. I am still just able to make ends meet, but I’ve also picked up a second job to help pay the bills. I still have 12-14 hour days and come home tired. Families need a raise to $10.10. Ohioans need a raise to $10.10”

Tom Brennan, Owner, Nerd Life Computer Store: “Right now my days involve two jobs. I work over 18hours a day. The first half of the day is from 10-6 running the computer store. And at night I work as a chef where I do make $10 an hour and I can tell you I just barely get by. So I can tell you, those families not making $10.10 are not getting by. And as an employer I choose to pay my employees over the minimum wage, because I’ve been there. And I challenge other small businesses to stand up and do the right thing and pay your employees an income they can live on.”

Carly Allen, ATU Local 697, read a prepared statement from Sen. Sherrod Brown: “A minimum wage lifted millions of Americans from Poverty and allowed them to join the middle class. But the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. In fact, the minimum wage has lost nearly a third of its buying power since its peak in 1968. Too many Americans who work full time jobs to provide for their families still fall below the poverty line. Working full-time in a job at the federal minimum wage pays just $15,000 per year – which isn’t much to live on when you’re trying to put food on the table, fill your gas tank, send your children to school, and provide a safe place for them to live. Increasing the minimum wage is good for workers, and good for the country. Higher wages mean more money pumped into local economies. Hard working Americans deserve to earn a living wage.”

Jimmy Donofrio, Americans United for Change: “We hear the Senate is going to vote on raising the minimum wage this week. The Koch brothers must have heard as well, because they sent a note to all the GOP Senators telling them to vote no. We’re here in Toledo to ask Senator Portman if he’s working for low-wage workers at home her in Ohio or if he works for the Koch brothers.”

Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “Unfortunately, Ohio’s Tea-Party beholden Republican Congressmen and Senator Portman are only interested in minimum tax responsibility for millionaires and huge corporations that outsource jobs, not in helping hard-working American families climb out of poverty and one rung closer to the middle class. That’s obvious from the same old Paul Ryan budget Speaker Boehner and company just voted for that slashes taxes by $5 trillion for the likes of the billionaire Koch Brothers and maintains billions of dollars in subsidies for Big Oil at the same time it slashes food stamps for the most vulnerable. Speaking of food stamps, a recent report found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would cut down federal food stamp spending by $46 billion over the next 10 years – and lift millions of people out of poverty. Minimum wage workers include child care providers, janitors, and nursing assistants and they are 35 years old on average. But the Harkin-Miller bill is not just an anti-poverty and pro-fiscal responsibility bill, it’s also a pro-jobs bill. Millions of people with more money to spend on goods and services means businesses will need to hire more workers to meet the demand. Decades’ worth of research done after previous minimum wage increases shows nothing but net economic benefits as a result, which is why so many successful business leaders and over 600 economists including seven Nobel Laureates are calling on Congress to raise it again now.”

“On the road, we’ve met with many small business owners on the forefront of this movement who didn’t wait for Congress to act – who are proving Tea Party rhetoric wrong: that you can pay your workers a fair wage and still be successful,” added Woodhouse. “One small business owner talked about how paying her employees more meant that they would come to work with purpose and that she could hold them to a higher standard. ‘It’s common sense,’ she said ‘the current minimum wage will get you minimum work. Higher minimum wage gets you less turnover and more productivity.’ Businesses need customers to survive, so why won’t Senator Portman and Speaker Boehner help create more of them: by raising the minimum wage and putting more money in the pockets of 30 million consumers.”

Jeremy Funk, 202-470-5878
Blake Williams, Traveling Press Sec., 407-902-7399
Posted By: Elly Moss
Wednesday, April 30th 2014 at 11:39AM
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