Our Coalition Partner, Action Now, Issues Statement After GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Oppose Raising the Minimum Wage

The Minimum Wage Limbo game illustrated the limbo where low-wage workers end up when they have to choose which necessities they can afford.

The Minimum Wage Limbo game illustrated the limbo where low-wage workers end up when they have to choose which necessities they can afford.

Our coalition partners at Action Now issued the following press release about the minimum wage issue in Illinois.

Billionaire Venture Capitalist and Candidate, Bruce Rauner, Wants to Lower Illinois’ Minimum Wage for Workers Making Poverty Level Wages

(CHICAGO, Jan. 8, 2014) — Despite Illinois’ ongoing income inequality crisis, the four Republican gubernatorial candidates just recently stated their strong opposition to raising the state’s minimum wage according to the Alton Daily News.

Most shocking is that one of the gubernatorial candidates, Bruce Rauner, a billionaire venture capitalist, actually thinks that minimum wage should be lowered to the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. Rauner was quoted as stating: “I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage.”

Illinois’ current minimum wage is a paltry $8.25 an hour, which equals about $17,000 per year for a full-time worker.

In response, Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now, which leads a statewide coalition working to increase the state’s minimum wage, issued the following response:

Making enough income to barely survive and to support one’s family is not a partisan issue, nor should it be.

At a time of rampant economic hardship and income inequality, it is completely irresponsible for any candidate for office to take a callous stance against lifting the minimum wage for low-income families who are struggling–and often failing–to meet their families’ basic needs for food, housing, clothing and medical care.

It is especially shocking that a billionaire candidate, like Bruce Rauner, would actually suggest that those minimum wage workers, and their families whom they support, should earn less and be forced to live on $15,000 per year, instead of $17,000.

It is time for state lawmakers, political candidates, civic leaders, and the business community to work on a bipartisan basis to alleviate poverty and to offer constructive ideas on how to strengthen economic opportunity for all working families in our state.

No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty. That’s why giving minimum wage workers the raises that they’ve earned is absolutely essential.

Of those workers making the minimum wage, the majority are working full time, and 84% are 20-years or older. Almost 100,000 Illinoisans work full time and still live in poverty, earning less than $17,916 dollars per year for a family of three.

It is estimated that raising the minimum wage to $10.65 per hour would inject a net of $2.5 billion into our economy and would support our small businesses. That’s why the Raise Illinois coalition is advocating for state lawmakers and civic leaders to support legislation, SB 68 and HB 3718, to raise the minimum wage to $10.65 over the next three years. In addition, over 71% of Illinois voters support raising the minimum wage.

And as s proof of the fair wage movement’s recent success, and its potential, residents near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) voted to raise the minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers from $9.19 an hour to $15 an hour.  In addition, Washington D.C. raised the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour. Next door in Maryland, Prince George County and Montgomery County both dramatically increased the minimum hourly wage to $11.50 by 2017 from the current $7.25.

In 2012 voters in San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque, New Mexico all approved wage hikes. Finally, in New Jersey’s state elections in 2013, that also saw Gov. Chris Christie reelected, voters overwhelmingly supported raising the state minimum wage to $8.25 and amended the state Constitution to tie future wage increases to inflation.

That’s why the Raise Illinois coalition is calling for a bipartisan effort across our state to lift wages for low-income workers, and to give struggling families greater opportunity and economic security.

The fight for raising the minimum wage in Illinois should not be considered a partisan issue, but instead a real opportunity to support low-wage workers and their families, to lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty, and to boost Illinois’ economy by strengthening our small businesses.

Action Now is a multi-issue grassroots organization of working families in the Chicago metro area. Our issue campaigns come out of listening to community residents through regular monthly meetings, engaging the base by going door-to-door and mobilizing all residents to take part in their community. Our leadership development includes formal leadership training and active involvement of members in the planning, implementation and evaluation of issue campaigns.

SOURCE Action Now

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