Workers and supporters held a rally at City Hall Tuesday afternoon in support of a bill, authored by Sen. Daylin Leach, that would raise the minimum wage to $15.
Chants of “We work, we sweat, for 15 on our check!” and “I want, I want, I want my $15!” could be heard reverberating from the northeast corner of City Hall late Tuesday afternoon where workers and supporters came out to push the support of a new bill that would raise the Pennsylvania state minimum wage to $15.
The bill is authored and sponsored primarily by State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17), who appeared at the rally following an emphatic opening speech from U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty.
“It's time we start allowing workers to share in the American Dream, and not just the 1 percent, and not just the chief executive officer, but the people on the line everyday who actually do the work,” Leach said at the rally.
The event brought out workers, students and supporters who marched around City Hall holding banners and signs with messages such as “Better Pay For a Stronger Philly” and “Strike for $15 and Union Rights for All.”
Members of the Jewish Labor Committee, of which Leach is a board member, came out in support of those pushing to raise the minimum wage.
“I think there's a problem in our society today when people can't pay their electric bills when they decide they're going get up and go to work,” said Michael Hersch, regional director of the JLC in Philadelphia. “People that are going to work 180 hours in a month at McDonalds at $7.25 an hour and have their wages stolen from them, on top of not being able to pay rent and live a normal standard of living — when it's more economically advisable to stay home and collect welfare than it is to go get a job, there's a problem.”
It is important to help people get up to a level that is above the poverty line, said Stanley Field, treasurer of the JLC.
“It's hard to work 40 hours a week and end up being at the poverty level,” Field said. “If you want to work 40 hours a week, you should make more than what the poverty level is.”
McGinty and Leach were two of many speakers at the event, which also included Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, who came out in solidarity of those protesting.
McGinty, a Democratic candidate, emphasized the American Dream and supporting working families, which garnered enthusiastic support from the crowd.
“We’re going to put people to work, and we’re going to pay them a decent wage — that's called the American Dream! Are we ready for the American Dream?” she asked through a megaphone to the crowd, which loudly responded, “Yes!”
For Leach, the rally was a way to show his unwavering support for the bill — he talked about how many low-income workers come to his office to fight for it — and show support for the workers it would affect.
“An economy that forces full-time workers to toil in poverty is clearly in need of repair,” he said in a statement after the event. “While corporations shower their executives with extravagant bonuses, lavish benefits and golden parachutes, they force their own employees to supplement meager wages with government assistance programs, all at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s time for employers to pay their fair share and for workers to get a fair shake.”
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