DC-Area Unionists, Low-Wage Workers Celebrate Enactment of Minimum Wage Hikes

From Union City D.C. area unionists and low-wage workers joined Jan. 15 in a festive celebration of new minimum wage hike laws in the nation’s capital and its two big Maryland suburban counties – landmarks in the national drive to raise the wages of the nation’s poorest workers. The gala at the AFL-CIO headquarters marked the signing of the D.C. law to raise the city’s minimum, now $8.25 an hour, to $11.50 hourly in three steps by 2016.  It also includes paid sick leave for restaurant workers.
2014_01_15_MinWageCoalition-DSC_3824Before that, the two big Maryland suburban counties, Montgomery and Prince George’s, acting in concert with the capital, raised their minimums over the same time period to the same level.
“This evening, our chant is not ‘Yes, we can,’ or ‘Yes, we will,’ but ‘Yes, we did!’” exclaimed Metro Washington Council President Jos Williams, whose council led the fight for the hike in the District, and who emceed the evening, which followed a debrief with key activists led by Williams and attended by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. Shuler called the local effort “the kind of coalition we need to bottle and spread across the country.”
Williams said that it was really the “struggle, tenacity and determination” of the low-wage workers and the unionists to help “those at the bottom” seeking to better themselves that won the fight. The ceremony featured a parade of union leaders and politicians, including Rep. Donna Edwards, D-MD., whose district includes parts of Prince George’s.
“When you have to ask for low income heating assistance, food stamps and rental subsidies, that’s wrong. And the work is not done,” she added, referring to both Virginia and efforts to raise the federal minimum…CLICK HERE for the complete report.