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Friday, January 17, 2014

Hundreds to Honor MLK's Legacy by Marching for $15 Minimum Wage on MLK Day

Posted by on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage, a commitment to economic justice that you can honor by joining the $15 minimum wage contingent of Monday's annual MLK Day march in Seattle. Join the MLK Day rally at Garfield High School at 11 am, and then meet up with $15 minimum wage supporters across the street in front of Ezell's at 11:45 am, before marching to Westlake Park.

Organizers urge you to wear red $15/hr t-shirts. Working Washington and are also hosting a workshop on the $15/hr movement at Garfield from 9-11:30 am.

While 1963's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" is largely remembered for King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, his was the tenth of ten speeches, many of which focused on the organizers economic demands. As I wrote back in August:

[W]hile King strayed from his prepared text to focus mostly on freedom, nearly half of the ten demands (pdf) specifically articulated by King and the rest of the march's organizers were economic, including massive public works and job training programs for the unemployed, a federal law prohibiting discrimination in public and private hiring, a broadening of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and "a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living."

"Government surveys show that anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this," the organizers duly noted back in 1963.

Adjusted for inflation, $2.00 in 1963 dollars would be worth $15.27 today. And so in a very real historical sense, one of the core demands underlying King's famous "I Have a Dream Speech," was a $15 an hour minimum wage. It is a dream that has remained unfulfilled to this day.

So yeah, 50 years later, the $15 minimum wage campaign really does honor King's legacy. Come and show your support on Monday.


Comments (7) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Good idea
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 17, 2014 at 2:07 PM · Report this
raku 2
Here are how Capitol Hill business owners are celebrating MLK date: By dishonestly declaring they will go out of business with a $15/hr minimum wage ($30K/yr for full time workers).

If a mandatory $15 an hour wage would kick in we would have to raise prices accordingly, most likely cut our work force, and trim hours of operation, making it even more difficult to be profitable, maybe even close our business.

- Owner of Julia's, who own a $1,357,000 house in Magnolia.

If the $15 minimum wage is enacted, we would go out of business immediately and all our 25 permanent staff (up to 50 seasonally) will be out of a job. It’s that simple.

- Owner of Red Light, who owns a $728,000 house in Greenwood.

Larger business can and probably should increase wages more than small businesses... Raising the minimum wage by 62% will completely eat up profits.

- Dave Meinert, owner of half of Capitol Hill, who owns two houses, including a $790,000 mansion in Burien and a $536,000 house in Burien.

These people absolutely are making their personal finances a political issue by saying they have no option but to close down or raise prices enormously. The clear answer is for you to cut your own wage to something in the range of "upper middle class" instead of "ridiculously wealthy."

I haven't seen ONE of these people mention ANYTHING about how the minimum wage increase would benefit their workers' lives.

If these people keep up their nonstop lobbying to keep their enormous wealth at the expense of their workers, the next step is to protest at their houses. The media will see what their mansions look like compared to their workers, who live in house shares and Apodments, or commute from the furthest suburbs.

Unfortunately, Dave Meinert in particular is a very skilled lobbyist, who is already Ed Murray's right-hand man on the minimum wage increase, and has called for his businesses to be exempt from a $15/hour increase, so that he makes even MORE money compared to big businesses that would need to increase their workers' wages. He successfully lobbied for almost the exact same exemption with the sick leave ordinance.

One more point - these wealthy businesspeople need to stop bringing up tips. It's obvious that you can enact a service fee to replace tips, which is a better system regardless - less discrimination and then tip wages would need to be reported and included in social security and unemployment benefits. If you really want to make this about tips, we'll need to dig into whether you've been paying taxes on tip wages as you're legally required to.
Posted by raku on January 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM · Report this
I don't know if they are necessarily honoring MLK by asking for more money, though it seems to make since if they asking to be treated like a human and payed like one as well.
Posted by b_l_f_ on January 17, 2014 at 7:31 PM · Report this
@2 there's mansions in Burien?
Posted by WestSeven on January 18, 2014 at 5:50 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 5
@4: I think @2 may have a very skewed notion of what constitutes a "mansion." Not to mention what constitutes "ridiculously wealthy" and "enormous wealth."
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on January 18, 2014 at 1:36 PM · Report this
I live in Burien. My condo cost $105,000. With a view of the Sound, the Olympics, and Vashon.

I shudder to think how obscene Meinert's $790,000 Burien home must be.
Posted by Lack Thereof on January 18, 2014 at 5:49 PM · Report this
it's basically true that a min wage without exemptions would punish businesses for labor intensivity, which might not be right given a secular looseness in labor markets
Posted by alfresco on January 19, 2014 at 3:08 AM · Report this

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