Wisconsin workers called on elected officials like Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Walker to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 outside the Coggs Human Service Center in downtown Milwaukee today.
As the Americans United for Change Raise the Wage Bus Tour rolled into town, low-wage workers spoke out about life on poverty wages that force too many to rely on public assistance to make ends meet while their employers reap record profits.
“I’m tired of relying on the system to make ends meet,” explained Mary Coleman, a Popeye’s worker and mother of three. “I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I will happily give you this Quest card for a living wage.”
“I’m here to ask Sen. Ron Johnson to vote to raise the minimum wage,” said Amina Webb, a Sear’s worker. “I am raising a 2 year old son and trying to finish my college degree but cannot afford basic life essentials for my family on the minimum wage. I don’t want the next generation to grow up in poverty.”
The face of low-wage workers is changing from part-time teenage work to full-time adult workers who support a family. Ninety percent of minimum wage earners are over 20 years old and 60% of minimum wage earners are women.
Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, explained that it is high-time for workers’ wages to rise. “We’re here today because no one who works full-time in America, who gets up and packs their lunch and heads to the shop floor, who works in a restaurant, in a coffee shop or in a hospital should have to live in poverty. Corporate profits are up, Wall Street bonuses are up, productivity is up and it is time for our wages to rise up!”