A group of about 10 activists, including Ralph Nader, took to the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., on Tuesday afternoon to advocate for the raising of the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $10.50, which is what workers were making in 1968 adjusting for inflation. Equipped with a megaphone, the demonstrators targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and then AFL-CIO headquarters. They criticized Chamber President Tom Donohue for what they said is his hourly pay of $1,200 and asked AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka why he has done so little to push President Obama and Congress to hike the minimum wage but has given money to the Democratic Party, which, the activists say, has betrayed the working class.
The event, which marked the birthday of labor organizer and former president of the United Mine Workers of America John L. Lewis, was an attempt to remind labor leaders of the issues that matter. Thirty million Americans are making less today, activists shouted to pedestrians and employees entering and exiting the Chamber and AFL-CIO, than they did 45 years ago. Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation, the poorest Americans would be making $10.56 an hour now, they told passers-by. In comparison, CEO pay has increased some 900 percent, the demonstrators pointed out.
As employees passed the protest, many refused to take a copy of former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s book “America Needs a Raise” that group members were giving away.
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Holding signs that read: “End Wage Slavery,” “Big Bosses Stomp on 30 Million Workers,” and “$10.50 Minimum Wage, Catch up with 1968!,” the protesters made the case that the Chamber should drop its opposition to — and the AFL should turbocharge its campaign to pass — a $10.50 an hour minimum wage — up from the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
...“Washington is not representing anybody but Wall Street and Walmart and McDonalds,” Nader said. “It’s time for Richard Trumka to step up, stop giving lip service, and put his muscle behind a $10.50 minimum wage.”
“We are an advanced Third World county. Unless organized labor steps up, and organizes more, and gets out of their offices, and stops making speeches, and really roll up their muscles and put it behind the millions of workers who can’t even earn what they earned in 1968, inflation adjusted, they ought to let others take their place.”