– Raise the Wage West Virginia, a coalition working to raise West Virginia’s minimum wage, met Wednesday to thank champions of working families and respond to recent concerns over the proposed legislation. The coalition includes members of the faith-based community, labor unions, community organizations and state workers who would benefit from a raise in the wage.
“Far too many hard-working West Virginia families are suffering because their wages are too low to meet their basic needs. By raising the state minimum wage, our state can take an important step to make sure that an honest day’s work receives an honest day’s pay,” said Ted Boettner, Executive Director of West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “Our economy is strongest when we expand opportunity for everyone, not just those at the top.”
House Bill 4283 passed with an 89-5 vote and was lauded by House Democrats and Republicans as a much-needed break for working families that would help give a much-needed boost to West Virginia’s economy. While there continues to be bipartisan support for the measure, some outside opposition appears to be ramping up.
“A fair shot at the American Dream, is exactly why we should pass a higher minimum wage. Far too many of our neighbors perform important jobs but are paid so little that they must turn to charity and government assistance to make ends meet,” said Reverend Jeff Allen, Director of West Virginia Council of Churches. A study by University of California Berkeley Labor Center and University of Illinois cites 52% of families of fast food workers receive public assistance like Medicaid, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families compared to 25% of the workforce as a whole. “After a long shift cleaning buildings, no mother should have to wait in line at a food pantry just to provide for her children.”
Jamie Gudiel, a worker from Morgantown who drove down to watch the Senate’s debate over the proposed minimum wage legislation said: “A vote to raise the minimum wage holds the key to my family getting one step closer to our American Dream. It wouldn’t solve all our problems, but it gives us a chance at a more normal life.”
Research shows increasing wages not only goes to fund the American Dream for workers, but for business owners alike. Extra money in the hands of consumers goes right into local shops and grocery stores allowing hard working families the freedom to purchase goods. It’s a win-win for West Virginia’s economy.
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