On Thursday, July 24, state representatives, city council members and other elected representatives joined low-wage workers, faith leaders, academics and community advocates at a Town Hall meeting focused on raising the minimum wage.
As the rallying cry for raising the minimum wage increases both in Indiana and around the country, low-wage workers and supporters spoke out about the harsh reality of living on just $7.25 an hour. During the town hall, elected officials were asked to participate in a Walk-a-Day, spending a full day walking in the shoes of a minimum wage worker to experience what it’s like to attempt to survive on $7.25 an hour.
“The truth is that families can’t survive on $7.25,” said Carolyn Lazzell, a Brownstown, Indiana home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Indiana member who facilitated the town hall. “If you make minimum wage, you have to depend on public assistance or go without food, shelter or some other basic necessity. You can’t meet your needs at $7.25. It just doesn’t add up.”
Participants asked lawmakers to make four commitments coming out of the town hall and all five officials in attendance agreed:
1. Getting the word out to constituents about why they support raising the minimum wage.
2. Sending a letter to colleagues encouraging them to support an increase to the minimum wage too.
3. Walk a Day in the shoes of a low-wage worker.
4. Take the ‘Live the Wage Challenge’ – a challenge to live on $77 between July 24-30. $77 represents the weekly wages of a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage, minus average taxes and housing expenses. The $77 budget includes all meals, groceries, transportation, and recreational spending.
Community members in attendance also signed on to a commitment letter to take the ‘Live the Wage Challenge.’
Indiana members say they are committed to this fight and will continue to hold lawmakers accountable to their promises, and educate communities across the Hoosier state to garner more support. Similar efforts are underway in both Illinois and Missouri to raise the minimum wage, with SEIU members leading the charge!