Iowa City residents take to the streets for ‘Raise the Wage’ march

CWJ panel discussion in September 2014 on workers’ rights. — photo by Adam Burke
CWJ panel discussion in September 2014 on workers’ rights. — photo by Adam Burke

In cities across the country, workers will be marching in the streets today to protest the minimum wage that they say isn’t enough for survival.

The Center for Worker Justice in Eastern Iowa will protest the stagnant wage floor, with a scheduled press conference at 3:30 p.m. at their headquarters (940 South Gilbert Court) and a “Raise the Wage“ march to follow.

Mazahir Salih is vice-president and an original founding member of the CWJ. Salih said she remembers the struggle of trying to survive on $5.25 per hour in 1997 while working two shifts at McDonald’s. Almost eighteen years later, she said it’s past time to raise the federal minimum.

“It’s ridiculous,” Salih said, “It is time to raise the minimum wage to $15.”

The federal minimum wage increased to the current $7.25 per hour in 2009. Since then, 29 states (and several cities) have raised their minimum past the federal rate but Iowa’s is still stuck.

Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Iowa House failed to pass a wage raise bill out of committee. In February, the Iowa State Senate passed a minimum wage bill that would have raised the minimum to $8.75 per hour, but the measure failed to clear committee in Iowa House. The issue won’t be taken up again until next year.

The “Fight for $15” movement was started by fast-food workers in New York City in 2012, who decided it was time to demand a livable wage that could keep them off public assistance.

“Every worker deserves a good salary that allows them to live with dignity and respect. And this is a right,” said CWJ President Marcela Huerta.

The Iowa City event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by CWJ, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 199 and SEIU Faculty Forward.

In Des Moines, a similar event will take place at 11 a.m.

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