On Wednesday, protesters nationwide demanded $15 an hour minimum wage in a movement labeled with the hashtags #BlackWorkMatters and #FightFor15.
Recent reports state that the wealth gap is now the widest it’s been in nearly 30 years. On average, CEOs of major corporations make $300 for every dollar the average worker makes.
On Thursday, NewsOne Now guest host Mo Ivory and the Straight Talk panel featuring Glynda Carr, Co-Founder of Higher Heights, Melanie Campbell, Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, and Stefanie Brown James, CEO of Vestige Strategies LLC, discussed the ongoing fight to raise minimum wage to a level that would allow the disproportionate numbers of minorities who are low-income workers the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty.
Ivory asked the panel, “At what point will employers understand that people need to earn a livable wage, that people cannot make it on $7 an hour … when will we get the backing of Congress to go ahead and say ‘You know what, people actually need to be able to pay their rent, feed their families, buy clothes, and have normal activities in their lives?’”
NewsOne Now panelist Stefanie Brown James responded, saying, “I think it’s a misconception that we have, as if low-wage workers are young workers. No, these are adults who are taking care of families — many of them are working three jobs just to be able to pay the bills.”
“We’ve seen through constant protests and agitation by these low-wage workers that there are some companies who are coming around. Currently, over 8 million people have benefited from their wages being increased, many of them are workers at Walmart or McDonald’s, but what I think we need to see is a move in Congress from these corporations who finally had the light come on to go to Congress and say, ‘Look, because we’ve increased the wages of our employees, this is how our company has benefitted.”
Brown-James believes that in order to force nationwide federal action from Congress, we’re going to need “backing from corporate America, along with the constant pressure being put on these low-wage workers to make that difference.”
Melanie Campbell, Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, said, “if you’re making $7.25 an hour, you’re making $15,000 a year to feed your family. The poverty rate is $23,000 a year, if you raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, you’re talking about $31,000 a year … to feed your families, to be that citizen that everyone wants us all to be, but yet we’re not investing in our own country to make sure people have a livable wage.”
Glynda Carr, Co-Founder of Higher Heights, explained that African-Americans can influence the battle over income inequality and equal pay by using our spending power.
“Our buying power is a trillion, so we are making these companies and having that due pressure to ensure that if we are rotating the little dollar that we have, that that dollar is coming back to not only to our community, but into our household.”
Carr added, “Black women control $.85 cents to every dollar spent in our community and that equates to over $585 billion dollars a year, yet still we’re fighting for not only equal pay, but the fact that we’re the largest population of low-wage workers.”
Watch NewsOne Now guest host Mo Ivory and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the battle for an increase in the nationwide minimum wage rate that could ultimately pull so many low-wage workers out of poverty in the video clip above.
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