All across the nation, a broad coalition of groups and activists took to the streets on July 24, the third anniversary of the last increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009, a day that Mike Wurdasky of Mt. Lebanon remembers well.
“I was making the minimum wage working in a fast food restaurant in 2009. The day they voted to raise the minimum wage my co-workers and I were thrilled. Even a meager raise made a big difference when you are making the minimum wage,” said Wurdasky. “A lot of my co-workers could not get by. They went home to empty refrigerators and had to beg the manager to take home leftovers and scraps.”
Community members filed into Rep. Tim Murphy’s staff to present over 200 petitions in favor of supporting the minimum wage.
“Politicians in Congress get an automatic raise every year if they do nothing. But we need to depend on Congress agreeing each year to make the minimum wage keep up with the cost of living. It’s time to fix that problem,” said Linda Santiguido. “Rep. Tim Murphy represents thousands of minimum wage workers. It’s time he stands with the 99% and votes to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour.”
John Dougherty of Greensburg feels that outsourcing is responsible for eliminating many of the good-paying jobs that allowed him to raise his family. “As a Marine, I fought to preserve the American Dream. I am saddened to see it chipped away at by outsourcing and I am outraged by our Congress that only serves the super wealthy,” said Dougherty.
Recently Rep. Murphy voted against considering The Bring Our Jobs Home Act to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Small business owner Alfred Ferraro spoke out in support of raising the minimum wage to strengthen the economy. “People who work for a living spend their money in our businesses, putting it right back into our economy. It should be a no-brainer to pay them a fair wage for their hard work,” said Ferraro.
Community members also presented Rep. Murphy’s staff with a new report by the National Unemployment Law Project. The report titled “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage” finds most low-wage workers are employed by large, highly profitable corporations and not small businesses.
Over the past five years, the top 50 low-wage employers in the U.S. returned a stunning $174 billion to shareholders through dividends and share buy-backs.
The Greensburg minimum wage event was part of a Raise The Wage nationwide day of action. Other Pittsburgh-area events included a march by One Pittsburgh from Market Square to the City County Building to urge the Pittsburgh City Council to pass a resolution to raise the minimum wage.