By Hadas Kuznits
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A bus tour supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage made a stop today in Philadelphia.
The “Give America A Raise” bus was the centerpiece for a rally at Eakins Oval, in front of the art museum.
Julie Blust, communications director for SEIU Local 32 BJ in Pennsylvania, is among those who want the national minimum wage raised from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. She says doing this will actually save taxpayer dollars by requiring employers to pay their workers a living wage.
“A lot of airport workers rely on public assistance just to get by,” she said today. “Food stamps. Many rely on Medicaid because they don’t have affordable health benefits. So what that means is, the taxpayers kind of get hit on both ends: they’re subsidizing a lot of the development at the airport and then the workers that are working there don’t make ends meet and so they need public assistance, which is also taxpayer-funded.”
She says there will be a question on the May 20th Pennsylvania primary ballot asking whether the minimum wage should be raised, and she hopes folks head to the polls to vote “yes.”
Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO (holding microphone in photo), says raising the minimum wage would add about $6,000 annually to the salary of a full-time minimum-wage worker, which would make a huge difference to those individuals:
“Maybe they don’t have to take the second job, maybe they can skim by. It’s certainly not going to have them living high on the hog, that’s for sure, but it gives them a little bit more to work with, especially if they have children. Maybe it means they’ll be able to take their child to an event for a couple of dollars. It’s not a lot of money in the world of people who have good jobs, but it means the world to somebody who’s working like they are.”