$15 Minimum Wage Seen as Help to Imperiled Local Economies
After a two—day press tour with the legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Will Guzzardi, stories were pouring in from throughout the state from workers who are struggling to make ends meet as House Bill 198, legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, faces an upcoming vote.
Home care worker Ashley Baugher was quoted in the The Southern Illinoisan saying she was “fearful” all the time for the economic security of her four children:
“I know I’m not the only one, of course, but there are too many of us here who cannot make our bills each month…We are always scared about being kicked out of our house, having our car taken away.”
Rep. Carol Ammons joined Guzzardi and heard from workers who confronted the myth put forward by business groups that low-wage jobs are merely for people just entering the workforce. They were joined by 67-year-old home care worker Diana Inman of Decatur, who works two jobs and was quoted by WILL about her prospects for retirement:
“If I could get up to $15 an hour, I could drop one of those jobs, and leave it open for somebody else…But with the economy, I’ve got to work two jobs just to pay my bills.”
Speaking at a rally, Quavlin Moore, single mother of four, told attendees that $15 an hour means more money in her pocket for basic necessities like groceries and new shoes for her children.
“A lot of people that I live around locally, we’re all in the same spot,” Moore said, according to a report from WNIJ. “We’re doing more and more and more and more, and it feels like we’re not going anywhere.”
Robin Sledge, a home care worker, told NBC25 “A lot of families are combining together because they just cant afford the cost living for rent and the food.”
In East St. Louis, the district of State Representative LaToya Greenwood of East Saint Louis, a co-sponsor of the bill, home care worker Fazio Beverly told KMOX News Radio about HER struggle trying to make ends meet on $10 an hour.
“Giving us $15 an hour isn’t going to make us rich, isn’t going to put us on a level with Trump, it’s not going to put us with Governor Rauner, it’s just going to help us offset some of the expense we endure of being a home care provider and trying to help others that need us.”
Rep. Greenwood, who joined Guzzardi and Beverly, called $15 an hour “the humane thing to do.”
Rep. Guzzardi told reporters and attendees at an event near the Capitol that the bill would put more money in the wallets of workers, who would then inject more money into the local economy.
“We’re gonna put money in the pockets of working people who are going to turn around and spend it. These are not people who are going to put money in Wall Street transactions or overseas bank accounts. These are people who are going to spend that money on groceries, going out to restaurants, buying new clothes for their children. This is money that’s going to go right into our community.”
For home care workers like Gail Hamilton, that means being able to make ends meet. Hamilton told WCIA:
“I don’t make enough money with the company I work for to pay all my monthly bills, all the ‘have to’s.’
Fellow home care worker Sherry Morris said:
I don’t get how we can work harder and get such low wages…it’s below the poverty line.”