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Virginia Elected Officials Rally With Local 400 to Demand Minimum Wage Increase for Working Families and Access to Drivers’ Licenses for Immigrants

UFCW Local 400 member Rick Howell, who works at a Kroger store in Roanoke, speaks to a crowd at the #TakeActionVA rally in Richmond on Thursday.

Bipartisan coalition of elected officials, immigrants and low-wage workers called for $15 minimum wage and driver’s license access for undocumented immigrants working in Commonwealth

Take Action Virginia members and a number of state elected officials called on the Virginia legislature to answer the plea of working families who demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage and immigrant-rights activists who know that granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is beneficial to the economy of the Commonwealth.

More than 250 people attended the rally outside the state capitol.

“Driver’s licenses are very important for everyone,” said state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “That is why I continue fighting for them every year until it passes.”

Legislators from both parties support a measure to authorize driver’s licenses to immigrants working in Virginia, who alone contribute $5.5 billion in gross state product to the state economy.

At least 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation. Having a state-issued form of ID allows undocumented people to open checking accounts, and also allows law enforcement officials to have positive and verifiable form of identification when detaining individuals.

In addition, advocates called on legislators to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021. California, New York and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation, along with several cities and municipalities.

“Every job in Virginia should be a good job,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. “I know first-hand, it is impossible for Virginians to, not only support themselves, but much less to support their families on $7.25 an hour. It’s time to give yourselves a pay raise.”

While the minimum wage in Virginia is only $7.25, an individual living in the city of Richmond requires an hourly wage of at least $11.93 to cover the cost of living, according to Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That number more than doubles if the individual has just one child to support.

“It’s time for us to turn the tide,” said Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, who introduced the legislation to increase the federally mandated minimum wage up to $10 an hour this year and to $15 an hour by 2021. “So we’re gonna stand up.”

“It’s wrong to ask people to work two to three jobs and not be able to make ends meet,” said Del. Marcus Simon, D- Falls Church.

The measure has the support of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who emphatically rallied the crowd.

“Poverty knows no race, no color, no gender,” Stoney said. “I’m committed to the principle that everyone has an equal opportunity. That means a $15 min wage.”

People who would be directly affected by a minimum wage increase also spoke up.

“I’ve seen the anguished look on the faces of my coworkers when they can’t pay their bills,” said Rick Howell, a grocery clerk from Roanoke and member of UFCW Local 400. “The fight against corporate greed is the most important. The middle class is disappearing fast.”

Take Action Virginia is a progressive and diverse alliance of organizations working to win social, economic, and racial justice for all working families in Virginia that includes 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Virginia 512, CASA in Action, LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic, NAKASEC Action Fund, UNITE HERE Local 23, UNITE HERE Local 25, and UFCW Local 400. The member organizations of Take Action Virginia collectively represent tens of thousands of Virginians employed as home care workers, parks staff, librarians, building cleaners, nurses, construction & highway workers, hotel workers, retail employees, and more. They include African-American, immigrant, Latino, and Korean voters.

UFCW Local 400 Endorses Levar Stoney for Richmond Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 29, 2016

CONTACT
Jonathan Williams, Communications Manager, jwilliams@local400.org

Union of food and grocery workers weighs in on mayoral race

RICHMOND, VA – Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers union (UFCW) announced its endorsement today of Levar Stoney for mayor of Richmond.

“Mr. Stoney understands the challenges facing hard-working families today. He is committed to upholding and improving working standards, not undermining them. He knows the working people of Richmond need to be at the table, not on the chopping block. We believe Mr. Stoney will bring a fresh approach to city hall and we look forward to his much-needed leadership,” said Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400.

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Sep 12: Join Us for the Moral Day of Action!

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Join us for the “Moral Day of Action” in Richmond on Monday, September 12!

Moral Day of Action
10:30am @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219

On Saturday, August 13, we made history in Richmond. Thousands and thousands of us marched through the streets of Richmond to demand economic justice for the 64 million Americans working for less than $15 an hour. The march brought together people from across the country working too much for too little – from Kroger associates to fast food workers to childcare providers and even college professors.

Now, we’re taking our message to Virginia legislators. On Monday, September 12, we’re rallying to call on the governor, state legislators and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people. As we rally in Richmond, simultaneous rallies will be held at state capitals throughout the country as part of a national Moral Day of Action. Join us!

10:30am @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219

About the Moral Day of Action:

On Monday, September 12, 2016 at State Capitols around the nation, at 11 AM in every time zone, justice will roll across the country as faith leaders from diverse traditions, people impacted by poverty, racism, and injustice, advocates, and activists come together rally and to deliver to our elected leaders and candidates the Higher Ground Moral Declaration, which calls on governors, senators, state legislators and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.

The Moral Declaration that has already been delivered to the RNC as well as the DNC will be read, proclaimed, and delivered to our Governors, US Senate candidates and state party officials. The format will be simple and will be the same in every state.

The Moral Day of Action on Monday is part of “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values,” a national tour to redefine morality in American politics and challenge leaders of faith and moral courage to be more vocally opposed to harmful policies that disproportionately impact the poor, people who are ill, children, immigrants, communities of color, and religious minorities. The first part of the national revival tour has over 19 stops from April 2016 to January 2017 including New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington DC, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The Revival is co-led by the Rev. Dr. James A Forbes Jr. and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, architect of the historic Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. They will be joined in some states by other national social justice leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries, and Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” and executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK in Washington, DC.

Print the Flier (PDF)

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2016 Election Labor Walks

Steve Meador (left), a Local 400 union rep, knocked on hundreds of doors to speak with fellow labor voters last year.

Steve Meador (left), a Local 400 union rep, knocked on hundreds of doors to speak with fellow labor voters last year.

Labor 2016 kicks in to high gear on Saturday, September 10th! Come out to walk and talk with fellow union members about what’s at stake in November’s election.

Meet at 9:00 a.m. on September 10th at one of the following locations:

In Annandale: NoVA Labor Offices – 4536 John Marr Drive

In Richmond: CWA Local 2201 Hall – 5809 Lakeside Ave.

In Norfolk: Ironworkers Local 79 Hall – 5307 E. Virginia Beach Blvd.

In Roanoke: Western Virginia Labor Federation – 2101 Dale Ave., SE

Thousands Gather in Richmond for Historic Fight for $15 March

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On Saturday, August 13, we made history in Richmond.

Thousands and thousands of us marched through the streets of Richmond to demand economic justice for the 64 million Americans working for less than $15 an hour. The march brought together people from across the country working too much for too little – from Kroger associates to fast food workers to childcare providers and even college professors.

The march culminated the first-ever national Fight for $15 convention, which brought together thousands of underpaid workers to strategize next steps for our growing movement.

The Fight for $15 movement shows us what we can accomplish when we stand together. It all started four years ago when fast food workers in New York went on strike. Since then, it has grown to thousands of cities across the world and has scored victory after victory for working people. Just last month, we passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. to $15 an hour by 2020. New York and California have already done the same thing. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles have also gone to $15.

Marja Tippin, a teacher from Oakland, California, explained the importance of the movement to millions of hardworking men and women:

“We need to get a livable wage across the board, and possibly, hopefully, end poverty. We work really hard to provide, and can’t maintain, and that is not right. This is not the American dream, at least not the way I was taught.”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, leader of North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP who recently made headlines after delivering a speech at the Democratic National Convention, was a featured speaker at the convention. With his piercing moral perspective, the reverend put the crisis facing underpaid workers today in stark relief:

“Right now you’re helping to fight for a third Reconstruction in this country. Labor without livable wages is nothing but a pseudo-form of slavery. When you pay people more, it’s good for them, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for America.”

It’s time for an economy that works for us ALL. It’s time for $15 and union rights. We are thousands strong, and we are tired of struggling to get by no matter how hard we work. We deserve better. We know that by standing together, we’ll get the better lives we deserve.

Photos on Facebook

Check out photos from the march on Facebook.

August 13: March for $15 at Kroger

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On Saturday, August 13, thousands of people like us will be marching through the streets of Richmond calling for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Can you make it?

March for $15 at Kroger
1:30 pm, Saturday, August 13
Monroe Park, Richmond, VA
Part of the first-ever Fight for $15 National Convention

The Fight for $15 has grown to become a household name in our country for a reason. Thousands of hardworking men and women have refused to stay silent about the challenges of making ends meet on today’s poverty wages.

Just look at the facts. Nearly 64 million Americans work for less than $15 an hour, including many members of Local 400. Over the last few decades, the real value of our wages has plummeted. Today, the minimum wage in Virginia is only $7.25. But in 1968, it was $1.60 –equivalent to $11.08 today. Not only that, we’re more productive today than we were in 1968. If the minimum wage kept pace with our productivity, it would be $18.85 today!

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Even if you make more than the minimum wage, your pay is affected too. When the value of the minimum wage goes down, so does the value of your paycheck. It’s simple: the lower the bottom goes, the deeper we all sink. That’s why we’re fighting to raise wages up and down the scale – because like the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

It’s not that Kroger can’t afford to pay more. Kroger made $2.4 billion in profits last year. Kroger’s CEO, Rodney McMullen, was richly rewarded for your hard work: he got a 17% pay raise this year. He now makes $11.2 million a year. A part-time Kroger associate making $9 an hour would have to work 1,204 years to make what he made last year alone.

We’re tired of CEOs getting all of the reward off of our hard work while we struggle to make ends meet. We’re tired of working harder than ever but earning less than we did decades ago. It’s time for change.

Join us on Saturday, August 13, for a historic Fight for $15 march through Richmond. We’ll be marching with thousands of McDonald’s cashiers and airport baggage handlers, truck drivers and early education teachers, retail employees and home care workers. And so many others.

To those of you that doubt us, those of you that think we’ll never get $15 an hour (or worse, think that we don’t deserve $15 an hour) – think again. We’re already doing it. Just last month, we passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. to $15 an hour by 2020. New York and California have already done the same thing. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles have also gone to $15.

This isn’t just a fight worth winning, it’s a fight we ARE winning. Help us keep up the momentum! Join us on Saturday, August 13 to Fight for $15 at Kroger!

Print the Flier (PDF)

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