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King County Councilmember Larry Gossett Speaks During Minimum Wage Rally at Seattle City Hall

Efforts to raise the minimum wage for workers in the US - The movement is gaining momentum as more states and communities pass laws increasing wages for the working poor.

Seattle Minimum Wage Campaign Rally At City Hall

Seattle will host the first national conference devoted to raising the minimum wage in the US to $15 an hour. The event is scheduled for April 26th.

Speakers at the conference will include:

David Cay Johnston, investigative journalist and author. Johnston won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting and is the bestselling author of Free Lunch, Perfectly Legal and The Fine Print. His new collection of essays is called Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality.

Glen Ford, from the Black Agenda Report. Ford was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists (NATWJ); media specialist for the National Minority Purchasing Council; and has spoken at scores of colleges and universities.

David Goldstein (aka Goldy), founder/ blogger in chief at Goldy has recently returned to HA after three-plus years as a staff writer at The Stranger. Goldy has also been published in The Nation, and has blogged at Huffington Post and Daily Kos. He hosted “The David Goldstein Show” on Seattle’s news/talk station 710 KIRO from 2006 through 2008.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Sawant earned her Phd. at North Carolina State University and a Bachelor's degree in computer science at the University of Mumbai. She is the newest member of the city council, winning election against longtime incumbent Richard Conlin. Sawant won the race with a grassroots campaign focusing on the $15 hour minimum wage issue. Sawant is an economics teacher at Seattle Central Community College. supporters have filed a Charter Amendment with the City of Seattle and are planning to run a city-wide referendum on the issue during the November elections if the Seattle City Council fails to pass an ordinance that will cover all workers in the city.

Seattle's new mayor Ed Murray has appointed a 25 member task force to study the effects of income inequality in the city.

The San Francisco Labor Council has passed a resolution calling for a $15/hour minimum wage.

Support for a national $15 hour minimum wage is growing across the country, and articles in favor of the raise have been published at Huffington Post, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, etc.

Sasha Abramsky at The Nation quoted David Rolf, president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW,

“We’ve seen a forty-year erosion of earning power in this country. After two generations in which all boats rose together, we saw the great separation between the 1 percent and everyone else. For 80 percent, the recession that ended in ‘09 is still a daily reality. There’ve been no net jobs created in twenty-first-century America.”
Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes at The Christian Science Monitor,
"Momentum is building to raise the minimum wage. Several states have already taken action  — Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more ambitious — Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties raised it to $11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00"
President Barack obama and Democrats in the US Congress are pushing for a raise of the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The New York Times pointed out on April 2,

"...the president continued the push at the University of Michigan, the latest in an almost weekly focus on the subject in speeches, blog posts, radio addresses and events. In March, Mr. Obama delivered remarks on the topic at universities in Florida and Connecticut. In February, he issued an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. In January, he demanded a raise for America’s workers at a Costco in Maryland."

While visiting Michigan earlier this month Obama said, “Nobody who works full time should be raising a family in poverty." He added,  “If we’re going to do right by our fellow Americans, we need Congress to get on board."

Forbes magazine offered a counter to Reich's article, written by Tim Worstall. Worstall maintains,
"He’s treated us to a list of reasons as to why the minimum wage should be raised to the near incredible number of $15 an hour and there’s not really a great deal of economic justification for them."
But despite complaints from conservative economists and Republicans in Congress, the issue of raising the national minimum wage will not go away.

The city of Seatac, Washington voted to pass Proposition 1 which would have set a $15 hour minimum wage in that community located south of Seattle. Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas ruled that workers at Seatac International Airport would not be covered by the new law, stating that the airport is actually owned and operated by the Port of Seattle. Airport workers are now fighting a legal battle to overturn the judge's ruling.

This is a political and economic issue which has gained momentum in many areas of the country. Whether or not folks agree on the amount the minimum wage should be raised, there is a growing consensus in the country that working families should not be left out in the cold after a hard day's work.

Meanwhile, activists in Seattle marched on City Hall on April 23, demanding that the city and Martin Luther King County provide at least temporary shelter for 3,123 people currently living on the streets.

During their 24 hour camp out and rally at Westlake Park, organizers from the local homeless advocacy group SHARE emphasized that a growing percentage of the homeless have jobs, but their wages have not kept up with inflation and they can't afford the inceasing cost of rent or the high cost of living in Seattle.

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