By Nate Jackson
Over 50 community members gathered outside the downtown Seattle offices sporting over sized “pennies” that had the likeness of Rob McKenna with the message “In low wages I trust.” McKenna had tried to stop a 12 cent increase in the minimum wage and had previously said that he believed in a training wage that would be below minimum wage for some workers.
If McKenna thinks the 99% are already paid too much, he should try living on minimum wage himself.
Luis Escamilla, a Tukwilla area High School teacher, grabbed the megaphone and addressed the crowd.
“McKenna voted against raising wages for childcare workers,” he said. “These are the people who take care of our families, who take care of our future.”
The crowd gathered shook their heads as Escamilla continued.
“CEO pay has skyrocketed 700% in the last 30 years,’ he said. “Minimum wage? Ha, it hasn’t even been close. If it would have stayed a pace with the CEOs it would be over $20 an hour.”
What we want are living wages that allow us to take care of our families. Nothing more than that. We work hard. We deserve that at least.
I see how depressed wages and unemployment adversely affects both the motivation, dignity and achievement of my most vulnerable students. With parents making income comparable to some of their own children, my students are being offered a glimpse of an economically disenfranchised future.
A worker from Burlington Coat Factory, a company owned by Bain Capital, Mitt “I don’t release my tax returns” Romney’s company, wrote a letter to be shared with the crowd. Susan Wilkinson read the letter on the worker’s behalf.
Minimum wage means minimum hope. I’ve worked for this company for 12 years and it has always been a struggle just to make ends meet. We all work hard down there, but we don’t ever see our pay become a living wage. Things got worse when Bain Capital took us over. They cut a 1/3 of the employees hours and put them on part time, not benefits. That’s how they made their money by cutting down the employees.
Escamilla after a few rounds of chants addressed the crowd again.
“We don’t want to be rich or famous,” he said. “It’s simple. We want wages that are living wages. Respectful wages. Dignified wages. We work hard. The 99% deserve a raise.”